Malaysia may have been good hideout for Kim Jong Nam, say observers

A man believed to be Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un's estranged elder half-brother, photographed at Beijing's international airport in 2007.
A man believed to be Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un's estranged elder half-brother, photographed at Beijing's international airport in 2007. PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - It was at Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 that Kim Jong Nam, the estranged elder half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed - reportedly by two unidentified women presumed to be North Korean undercover agents.

Over the past years, the North Korean figure has made frequent appearances in Kuala Lumpur, triggering rumours he had permanently moved to the country around 2012.

In January 2014, he was reported by a Japanese media outlet as eating in a Korean restaurant downtown. In December 2012, a South Korean outlet even attempted to interview him at a hotel lobby in the city.

Though the precise time and reason of Jong Nam's stay there at the time are unknown, observers have suggested that Malaysia may have been a good hideout for the estranged Kim. The country not only holds diplomatic ties with both Koreas, but is located within six to seven hours by flight from the Korean Peninsula's western coastline.

Malaysia is one of a dwindling number of countries that has close relations with North Korea, which is under tightening global sanctions over its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, the latest of which took place on Sunday.  

Malaysians and North Koreans can also visit each other’s country without visas. 

 

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Ranking officials with experience in inter-Korea affairs, such as opposition lawmaker Rep Park Jie Won, who formerly served the late President Kim DaeJung, said that Malaysia has often been considered an ideal spot for North Korea's espionage.

Kim died on Monday morning after the two suspects attacked him with poison. The suspects are reported to have fled the scene.