Kim Jong-nam: Body 'arrives in Pyongyang' in exchange deal

Early yesterday, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman greeted the nine Malaysians at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport after the tense exchange.

They are believed to be catching a flight back to North Korea.

The 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.

Investigators say Kim Jong Nam, who was in his 40s, was poisoned at the Kuala Lumpur airport by two young women wielding VX nerve agent, a banned chemical weapon.

Malaysian authorities released the body Kim Jong Nam to North Korea on Thursday, in a deal that secured the release of nine Malaysian citizens held in Pyongyang after a drawn out diplomatic spat. Malaysia responded in kind, with an exit ban of its own targeting North Koreans.

In a separate development, the US Treasury has imposed sanctions on 11 North Korean commercial operations which it says are involved in aiding North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

"So far, there has been no response from North Korea on the four suspects", he said.

Thae's testimony fits with what experts have told Business Insider: The focus of North Korea's nuclear program has shifted from a bargaining chip - something it could trade away for concessions from the global community - to an insurance policy.

North Korea has denied any involvement in the murder of Kim, who it is still referring to as Kim Chol, which was the name on the victim's diplomatic passport.

Those who have returned include the country's counsellor to North Korea, Mohd Nor Azrin Md Zain, embassy staff, and their families.

The Prime Minister was making an apparent reference to the murder of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia, widely believed to have been ordered by the rogue regime. If Kim Jong-nam's body is buried overseas, it will attract much media attention.

The three men who were hiding in the embassy - including an embassy official and a North Korean airline worker - flew to Beijing on Thursday, where they were subsequently seen at the airport, presumably on their way home.

"North Korea will say that its citizen named Kim Chol died from a heart attack and claim that enemies South Korea and the United States have stirred up drama", he said.

The deal also means that a ban by both countries on each other's citizens leaving their respective countries is now lifted.

The matter was however part of the agreement reached with North Korea, that is, the police must be allowed to interview and interrogate them and North Korea had allowed this to be carried out, he added.

He had earlier announced that the body was being sent back "following the completion of the autopsy on the deceased and receipt of a letter from his family requesting the remains be returned to North Korea".

  • Leroy Wright