4 N.Koreans Sought in 'Organized Hit' on Kim Jong-nam

  • By O Youn-hee, Kim Myong-song

    February 20, 2017 09:44

    Malaysian police are hunting for four more North Korean men in what they say was an organized hit on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong-nam in Kuala Lumpur last Monday.

    Malaysian police told reporters Sunday that "five male suspects" were implicated, in addition to two women who have been arrested for carrying out the hit, claiming that they were under the impression it was a reality-TV prank.

    One of the five men was arrested Friday and has been identified as Ri Jong-chol (47). He was arrested at a home on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on Friday, where he worked for a Malaysian company. The others are Ri Ji-hyon (33), Hong Song-hac (34), O Jong-gil (55) and Ri Jae-nam (57), who fled after the hit.

    /Reuters-Yonhap

    They hold regular rather than diplomatic passports, according to the deputy inspector-general of Malaysian police, Noor Rashid Ibrahim.

    The entered Malaysia separately between Jan. 31 and Feb. 7 and four left the country together aboard a reserved flight on the day of the assassination and, according to the China Press, returned to Pyongyang on Friday via Surabaya, Dubai and Vladivostok.

    "Next plan is to get them," Ibrahim said. "We, of course, have international co-operation especially with Interpol, bilateral involvement with the country involved, we will go through those avenues to get the people involved."

    According to a source, the four are special operatives based in Southeast Asia working for different branches of the North Korean regime, including the General Reconnaissance Bureau and Workers Party. Asked if the four suspects work for North Korean state agencies, Ibrahim said only their nationalities have been confirmed.

    Malaysian Police deputy inspector-general Noor Rashid Ibrahim (left) and Selangor state police chief Abdul Samah Mat (right) take a question from journalists during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Sunday. /Yonhap

    The Malaysian government said it could take up to two weeks before the results of a fresh autopsy of Kim Jong-nam are available. Ibrahim told reporters that the exact cause of death and the type of toxin used in the hit remain unclear after the first post-mortem.

    North Korean Embassy officials earlier demanded an immediate handover of the body, but Ibrahim said any decision can be made after having Kim's family members "verify" the corpse first and undergo DNA testing.

    So far no members of Kim's immediate families in Macau and China have come forward to claim the body.

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