S. Korea links poisoning to two N. Korea ministries
SEOUL, South Korea — Officials from North Korea’s secret police and Foreign Ministry were involved in the killing of the estranged half brother of the country’s leader, South Korean intelligence officials told lawmakers Monday.
Ever since Kim Jong Nam, the eldest brother of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, was reported dead, the South Korean government has held the North responsible. On Monday, the National Intelligence Service in Seoul provided more details of what it described as state- sponsored terrorism, saying four of the eight North Koreans identified as suspects by Malaysian authorities were agents from North Korea’s Ministry of State Security, the country’s secret police.
Speaking Monday in a private parliamentary hearing, Lee Byung- ho, director of the National Intelligence Service, said two other suspects worked for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The remaining two were affiliated with Air Koryo, the North’s state-run airline company, and Singwang Economics and Trading General Corp., Lee said, according to two lawmakers who attended the briefing. Singwang is among North Korean companies facing U.N. sanctions.
Malaysian authorities have said Kim Jong Nam was killed by a toxic nerve agent known as VX. They have said the North Koreans had hired and trained two women, one from Indonesia, the other from Vietnam, to attack Kim at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The women smeared his face with the chemical while he was waiting to check in for a flight to Macau, where he and his family had a home, they said.
The two women are in police custody in Kuala Lumpur.
Lee, the South Korean intelligence chief, was quoted by the lawmakers as saying the eight North Koreans, working as two four-member teams, converged in Kuala Lumpur to carry out the Feb. 13 assassination.
He said Ri Jae- nam, a state security agent, and Ri Ji-hyon, a Foreign Ministry official, had recruited Doan Thi Huong, a 28- year- old Vietnamese woman, into the assassination plot, while Siti Aisyah, a 25-year-old Indonesian woman, was hired by O Jong- gil, a state security agent, and by Hong Song-hac, a Foreign Ministry official.
The four North Koreans who made up the assassination team left Malaysia the same day Kim was killed and are believed to be back in their country, Lee was quoted as saying.