March 09, 2017 09:57
The son of Kim Jong-nam, who was assassinated in Kuala Lumpur last month, appeared on YouTube on Wednesday for the first time since the hit on his father.
In the 40-second clip posted by a group calling itself Cheollima Civil Defense, which purports to help North Korean defectors, Han-sol says, "My name is Kim Han-sol, from North Korea, part of the Kim family."
He then holds up what looks like a North Korean diplomatic passport to the camera, but the details are blacked out.
"My father has been killed a few days ago. I'm currently with my mother and my sister. We are very grateful to..." he continues before the sound cuts off and his mouth is covered by a black bar to prevent lip-reading. When the sound returns he says, "...and we hope this gets better soon."
The group claims Kim Han-sol fled his home in Macau with the help of the U.S., Chinese and Dutch governments as well as one other, unnamed country.
Kim is now believed to be living abroad under the protection of a foreign government along with his mother, Ri Hye-kyong, and sister Sol-hui. After the clip surfaced, the NIS said the individual "appears to be Kim Han-sol." It is unclear why the group decided to post the clip now.
Intelligence sources said the aim appears to be to quell controversy over whether the victim who was murdered with VX nerve agent in Malaysia was really Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Cheollima Civil Defense said in a statement that it was asked to help Kim Han-sol and his family following the assassination and that they were relocated to a safe place. The group added the clip would be the "first and last statement on this particular matter and the present whereabouts of this family will not be addressed."
According to intelligence sources, Kim left Macau after his father's assassination and fled to a Southeast Asian country.
One intelligence source said he searched for a Western country that could protect him and appears to have gotten in touch with the Dutch government, which has been interested in North Korean human rights issues, through his European friends from school.
"Through the Dutch ambassador, who serves as the country's diplomatic representative to both North and South Korea, the Dutch government asked for the cooperation of the South and U.S. governments to protect Kim, who was smuggled out of Macau to a third country. The unnamed fourth government mentioned by Cheollima Civil Defense may be South Korea," the source said.
The source added that Kim and his family could not have left Macau without the help of Beijing. Transit points being mentioned are Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan or Thailand, which all house regional offices of the CIA.
It is unclear whether he traveled with his sister. The intelligence source said, "There was information that Kim Sol-hui was living in Switzerland, so she may have met up with her family in a third country."
The Cheollima Civil Defense website is registered by a company based in Panama, but that could simply be a proxy. Panama is a major transit point for shady North Korean diplomats and also served as a conduit to smuggle Cuban cigars abroad.
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