Another North Korean possibly involved in Kim Jong-nam murder
Local sources say the man named Chang Nam-un is believed to have played a key role in the assassination plot
Another North Korean man may have been involved in last month’s murder of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in addition to seven others hunted by Malaysian police over their alleged links to the case, sources close to the matter said Saturday.
According to the sources and a local newspaper, the man’s name is Chang Nam-un and he is in his mid-30s. The local New Straits Times reported that he is believed to have played a key role in the plot to kill Kim Jong-nam, citing its analysis of security camera footage before and after the attack at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13.
Kim Jong-nam died after he was attacked by two women – an Indonesian and a Vietnamese – as he waited to check in. The women, who smeared the highly toxic nerve agent VX on the his face, have since been charged with murder, while seven North Koreans, whose involvement is also suspected, have been at large.
Of the seven, four suspects, believed to have flown out of Malaysia the same day as the attack and now in Pyongyang, have been put on Interpol’s Red Notice list, known to be the closest instrument to an international arrest warrant.
The four are Hong Song-hac, 32, Ri Ji-hyon, 32, O Jong-gil, 54, and Ri Jae-nam, 56, according to Interpol’s website. The three others include Hyon Kwan-song, second secretary at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
According to the New Straits Times, a frame-by-frame analysis of video footage captured by airport security cameras shows that Chang entered the frame as soon as Kim Jong-nam began making his way to the self check-in counter where he was eventually attacked.
The report quoted an expert as suggesting that Chang was among the suspects tasked with making sure that the attack was successful.
After the attack, one of the women passed him while raising her right hand, which the expert interpreted as indicating “the job was done”.
According to the paper, another clip showed the man subsequently crossing paths with the other woman, and based on the footage the expert said it was plausible signals were also exchanged between them.
The sources have said Chang, along with O who is a state security member, left Pyongyang and passed Vladivostok, Moscow, Bangkok, and Phnom Penh before arriving in Kuala Lumpur on February 7.
The two are believed to have returned to Pyongyang, using the same route by which they had come. Japanese and South Korean authorities are also aware of Chang, based on Malaysia police information, the source said.
One of the sources said: “There could be a few more people assisting [in the murder], which will raise the number of the total of North Koreans involved to around 10.”
The New Straits Times, meanwhile, said the footage also showed another man with a black outfit always a few steps behind Kim Jong-nam as he made his way to the airport’s medical clinic following the chemical attack. It said he may also not have been identified as a suspect yet.