On a path to self-destructionThe Choson Sinbo, the media outlet of a pro-North Korea group in Japan Chochongryon (The General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan) argued that claims that Pyongyang had been behind the assassination in Malaysia of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, were a conspiracy. Since the paper advocates for the Pyongyang regime, we cannot know what Kim and his followers will do with the body of the deceased, which arrived in Pyongyang on March 31.
All the evidence suggests that North Korean spies had orchestrated the killing of Kim at Kuala Lumpur airport in February. Out of the ten suspects, eight were North Korea nationals, except for the two women who carried out the mission using VX nerve agent, an internationally-banned toxic.
Malaysian authorities who confirmed that Pyongyang was the mastermind behind the deadly attack were forced to hand over the body and remaining suspects to North Korea in exchange for nine Malaysian citizens held hostage in Pyongyang by North Korean authorities.
Nine Malaysian citizens, including diplomats, were held in North Korea following the diplomatic spat over the assassination claims. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak succumbed to Pyongyang’s demand fearing a political blow ahead of snap elections in the country.
The assassination will remain an unsolved issue now that Kim Jong-nam’s body and the suspects involved in the assassination are all in the hands of North Korea. The case set a poor precedent of a state surrendering to the notorious bullying of North Korea. Although the safety of its nationals was at risk, Malaysian authorities should have studied other options.
It is also a pity that Seoul, though a third party, failed to help find a breakthrough, given the significance of the assassination. But Kim Jong-un should know that his blatant and inhumane ways will carry a dear cost. Regardless of its claims, the world knows North Korea was behind the merciless killing and resorted to savage intimidation to close the case. Its actions only added to its list of brutalities and violation of human rights and international rules.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 3, Page 30