'LOL': alleged Kim Jong Nam assassin nabbed after reportedly being 'positively identified from CCTV footage'
Did Malaysian authorities get the last laugh?
Cops in Malaysia have reportedly arrested a woman – donning a ‘LOL’ sweater – on Wednesday that they believe is connected to the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Also Wednesday, Malaysian police confirmed the woman in custody was carrying Vietnamese travel documents bearing the name Doan Thi Huong at the Kuala Lumpur airport budget terminal, where Kim Jong Nam was attacked. It was not immediately clear whether the passport was genuine. She was identified using earlier surveillance video from the airport, police said.
Still photos of the video, confirmed as authentic by police, showed a woman in a skirt and long-sleeved white T-shirt with “LOL” across the front. Police said they were hunting for more suspects.
Kim Jong Nam’s murder made headlines Tuesday when it was reported two female operatives – believed to be North Korean – approached the 45-year-old at the Kuala Lumpur airport and sprayed him with a chemical substance that reportedly caused his death.
Police in the Malaysian capital said the suspect was detained at the airport.
"(She) was positively identified from the CCTV footage at the airport and was alone at the time of the arrest," read a statement obtained by ABC.
Kim Jong Nam, who was waiting to board a flight to Macau, was in pain as he sought help at an information centre, a source told the Associated Press. He died en route to hospital.
He reportedly fell out of favour in North Korea after being caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport in 2001, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland. He reportedly enjoyed gambling and has been living in recent years in Macau, Singapore and Malaysia.
Kim Jong Nam and Kim Jong Un have the same father, late dictator Kim Jong Il, but different mothers.
Since taking power in late 2011, Kim Jong Un has executed or purged a slew of high-level government officials in what the South Korean government has described as a “reign of terror.”
The most spectacular among them was the 2013 execution of his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, once considered the country’s second most powerful man, for what the North alleged was treason. The South’s government has said the North also executed a vice-premier for education in 2016 for unspecified anti-revolutionary and factional acts, and a defence minister in 2015 for treason.
As of midday Tuesday, officials in Kuala Lumpur were still searching for the alleged assassins.
-With files from the Associated Press
THE KIM JONG NAM FILE
- Age: 45
- Born: May 10, 1971 – Pyongyang, North Korea
- Died: Feb. 14, 2017 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
*Kim Jong Nam was the first-born child of late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, who conceived him with his first mistress, Song Hye Rim.
*As Kim Jong Il’s oldest son, Kim Jong Nam once was considered his father’s heir. But in 2001, Nam was busted in Japan for attempting to sneak into the country using a falsified passport from the Dominican Republic. He told authorities his intention was to visit Tokyo’s Disneyland. The Independent reported Kim Jong Il was so embarrassed by his son’s actions that he cancelled a looming trip to China.
*Citing South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo, the Telegraph reports Kim Jong Nam previously worked for North Korea’s foreign ministry to Japan, where he attended school. It’s believed Kim Jong Un offered him the position in an effort to keep close reins on his half-brother he viewed as a threat.
*Around the same time of his father’s death, Kim Jong Nam survived an attempt on his life six years ago in Macau – the site of a bloody shootout with his bodyguards. From then, reports indicate he was aware his life was in danger. It forced him to frequently travel throughout southeast Asia.
*The Independent reports Kim Jong Nam was close to his uncle, Jang Song Thaek – the man Kim Jong Un executed in 2013. It’s believed Jang Song Thaek funnelled money to Kim Jong Nam, who lived what’s widely described as a “playboy” lifestyle – something that could have bothered his vindictive brother.