International Community Responds to Kim Jong-nam’s Murder
An autopsy of Kim Jong-nam revealed on February 19 that VX nerve agent and subsequent paralysis was the cause of his February 13 death in Kuala Lumpur Airport. Amid ongoing investigations into Kim’s death, the international community has demonstrated willingness to toughen up against Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-nam, son of former-North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and and a North Korean actress, was the heir apparent to Kim Jong-il until he fell out of favor in 2001, when he was caught trying the enter Japan with a fake Dominican passport. He was deported to China and had been living under the constant protection of the Chinese police. He married twice and has six children; he had recently moved to Macau.
Kim Jong-nam was on his way to board the morning flight to Macau when a woman approached him from behind and covered his face with her hands smeared with VX nerve agent. Two women have been arrested as suspects, trained by four North Korean agents who have escaped to their home country. A Vietnamese woman, Doan Thi Huong, confessed that she believed that she was taking part in a comedy show. An Indonesian woman, Siti Aishah, said that she was paid $90 and was told that she was starring in a reality television show.
Hwang Kyo-ahn, the acting-President of South Korea, remarked in a press conference that if North Korea is found to have ordered the killing, it “would be a case that clearly shows the cruelty and inhumanity of the Kim Jong-un regime.” Hwang announced that South Korea will continue to “closely cooperate with the Malaysian government to thoroughly investigate this incident.”
There have been speculations that China was protecting Kim Jong-nam as a potential successor in case Kim Jong-un lost power. Kim Jong-nam criticized Kim Jong-un in his 2011 interview with a Japanese journalist, Yoji Gomi. He called the hereditary succession a “joke to the outside world,” and argued that North Korea will collapse without reform.
Although there is no concrete evidence that proves Kim Jong-un ordered the killing, several countries have taken punitive measures against North Korea. China announced that it will discontinue the import of North Korean coal for the rest of 2017, a business that generates approximately $1 billion yearly for Pyongyang. In the United States, some lawmakers are calling to put North Korea back on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.
North Korea has denied any involvement in the killing and denounced South Korea and Malaysia for their accusations. North Korea’s state media also criticized China on February 23 as “dancing to the tune” of the United States.
The Malaysian police have requested cooperation from the International Criminal Police Organization. They also announced that they will issue an arrest warrant for Kwang Song-hyon, the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, if he does not cooperate with the investigation.