Korean workers after Kim Jong Nam murder sparks diplomatic row

"This is what is required by the law, " he said, confirming that the North Korean duo were allowed to leave Malaysia.

Kim Jong Nam, the elder half-brother of the North's young, unpredictable leader Kim Jong Un, was killed at Kuala Lumpur's airport on February 13 in a freaky assassination using VX nerve agent, a chemical so lethal that it is on a UN list of weapons of mass destruction.

"Whatever the perception on the Malaysia-North Korea crisis, it is still a fact that the two countries has enjoyed a good relationship over the past 44 years", he said.

The diplomatic spat erupted after North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol made baseless allegations against Malaysia over the handling of the case, resulting in Malaysia declaring him persona non grata and ordering him to leave within 48 hours.

Television footage obtained by Reuters from Japanese media showed Hyon Kwang Song, the second secretary at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, and Kim Uk Il, a North Korean state airline employee on the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

That view is backed up by South Korean and United States officials, who see them as pawns in an operation carried out by North Korean agents. Kim's wife and children, who were living in exile in the Chinese territory of Macau, staged a vanishing act after the murder and are believed to be in hiding.

Kim Jong-un is rumoured to be touchy about his weight, a situation that isn't helped by reports that one of the most popular web searches in China is "Kim Fatty the Third".

Awang Azman said the good relations between Malaysia and North Korea was established during the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein's tenure as the Prime Minister.

While Malaysia has not officially accused North Korea of responsibility for the killing, their investigation has involved an autopsy of Kim's body and an attempt to question the suspected North Korean plotters.

However, he said the police were awaiting North Korea's cooperation to hand over four other suspects believed to have fled to that country.

Pyongyang retaliated by expelling Malaysia's Ambassador to North Korea.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is now on an official visit in India, issued a statement announcing the return of the body, but did not mention Kim by name.

The police chief said, as his relative, Kim Jong-un was within his right to request the return of his half brother's body.

It comes after the USA imposed sanctions on 11 North Koreans and one North Korean company over links to the country's weapons programmes, banks and commodities trade.

According to Khalid, the police have not closed the investigations into Jong-nam's murder.

Some of those who left were suspects in the murder of Nam.

The swap agreement brings to an end a diplomatic standoff that has lasted almost seven weeks. But has North Korea come out on top?

The ambassador left Kuala Lumpur on March 6.

  • Leroy Wright