The Weekend Australian - Review
Killer ‘prank’ an extraordinary tale
Few who pay attention to current affairs will forget the horrific CCTV footage that was captured by cameras at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13, 2017, when two young Asian women were photographed in the act of smearing a deadly nerve agent on the face of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, killing him. But how many remember what happened afterwards?
Ryan White’s meticulous, gripping documentary feature provides most of the answers, thanks to comprehensive use of that same CCTV footage plus interviews with many of the key players, including the women’s defence counsels, experts on North Korea, an independent Malaysian journalist and, eventually, the women themselves.
Siti Aisyah was Indonesian and Doan Thi-Huong was Vietnamese. Both were from peasant backgrounds and both had been living in cities trying to find work as actors, often resorting to the sleazier sides of that profession to make ends meet. They only met after they were arrested, but both were groomed by North Korean agents posing as makers of “prank” videos in which unsuspecting members of the public were the subject of stupid, mildly embarrassing jokes, played on them by the young women.
As Assassins makes clear, the Malaysian authorities allowed all of the North Korean suspects to leave the country before the unfortunate women were brought to trial, and subsequently the full force of the law was heaped upon the innocent pawns, who faced mandatory death sentences.
This is an extraordinary story and the thorough manner in which White has assembled the material brings one of the most unusual political assassinations ever carried out vividly to life.