Video sur­faces of man claim­ing to be Jong-nam’s son

New Straits Times - - News / Story Of The Day -

A video of a man de­scrib­ing him­self as the son of as­sas­si­nated North Korean ex­ile Kim Jong-nam emerged yes­ter­day, ap­par­ently the first time a fam­ily mem­ber has spo­ken about the killing.

The video was up­loaded to the YouTube page of a pre­vi­ously un­known group, Che­ol­lima Civil De­fense (CCD), which claimed to have “ex­tracted” vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of Jong-nam’s fam­ily with the help of the Dutch, the United States and South Korean au­thor­i­ties, and was keep­ing them un­der pro­tec­tion in an undis­closed lo­ca­tion.

South Korea’s in­tel­li­gence agency con­firmed the in­di­vid­ual on the video is Kim Han-sol.

His fa­ther was mur­dered at Malaysia’s main air­port last month by two women us­ing the banned VX nerve agent, with Py­ongyang widely blamed for the assassination.

“The man is in­deed Kim Hansol,” a spokesman for the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice said.

The spokesman de­clined to give fur­ther de­tails, in­clud­ing Han-sol’s cur­rent where­abouts or any in­for­ma­tion about CCD.

In the video, the man says in English: “My name is Kim Hansol, from North Korea, part of the Kim fam­ily.

“My fa­ther has been killed a few days ago. I’m cur­rently with my mother and my sis­ter. We are very grate­ful to...” he says, be­fore the au­dio cuts off and his mouth move­ments are blacked out.

He shows his North Korean di­plo­matic pass­port as ev­i­dence of his iden­tity but the page that shows his par­tic­u­lars is dig­i­tally cov­ered.

The 40-sec­ond video wraps up with him say­ing: “We hope this gets bet­ter soon.”

There was no in­di­ca­tion where or pre­cisely when the video was made.

Han-sol, 21, is be­lieved to have grad­u­ated from Sciences Po Univer­sity in Paris and had been liv­ing in ex­ile with his par­ents in Ma­cau be­fore he dis­ap­peared with his mother and sis­ter fol­low­ing his fa­ther’s death.

Be­cause of his blood­line, Hansol could be seen as a ri­val fig­ure­head in a state ruled by his un­cle Kim Jong-un and roiled by bloody purges.

Malaysia has yet to for­mally iden­tify the dead man as Jongnam or re­lease the body, with po­lice say­ing they are wait­ing for next of kin to come for­ward and pro­vide a DNA sam­ple.

On its web­site — reg­is­tered only on Satur­day — CCD said that it was pro­tect­ing Jong-nam’s fam­ily.

“Che­ol­lima Civil De­fense re­sponded last month to an emer­gency re­quest by sur­vivors of the fam­ily of Jong-Nam for ex­trac­tion and pro­tec­tion.

“The three fam­ily mem­bers were met quickly and re­lo­cated to safety,” it said, also in English.

“We have in the past ad­dressed other ur­gent needs for pro­tec­tion,” it as­serted.

“This will be the first and last state­ment on this par­tic­u­lar mat­ter, and the present where­abouts of this fam­ily will not be ad­dressed.”

The group thanked coun­tries “for the emer­gency hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance af­forded to us in pro­tect­ing this fam­ily”, in­clud­ing the Nether­lands, China and the US, plus an un­spec­i­fied fourth gov­ern­ment.

It praised the Dutch am­bas­sador to South Korea, Lody Em­brechts, in par­tic­u­lar “for his timely and strong re­sponse to our sud­den re­quest for as­sis­tance”, call­ing him “a credit to the peo­ple of the Nether­lands and their long and prin­ci­pled stance for hu­man rights and hu­man­i­tar­ian norms”.

Nei­ther the Nether­lands em­bassy in Seoul nor CCD could be reached for com­ment by AFP.

“Che­ol­lima” is a myth­i­cal winged horse orig­i­nat­ing in an­cient Chi­nese myths.

CCD uses South Korean translit­er­a­tion for its name, while some of the Korean text on its web­site read as if it could have been a trans­la­tion from English.

Kim Sung-min, a high-pro­file de­fec­tor who op­er­ates an an­tiPy­ongyang ra­dio sta­tion, said the group ap­peared to be as­so­ci­ated with ac­tivists based in the US.

South Kore­ans left mes­sages of en­cour­age­ment for Han-sol on YouTube, with some invit­ing him to de­fect to the South.


Peo­ple at a rail­way sta­tion in Seoul watch­ing a TV news pro­gramme show­ing a video in which a man claims to be the son of Kim Jong-nam yes­ter­day.

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