An Indonesian woman who is currently in Malaysian police custody over the assassination of the half bother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says she was paid only $90 to do the job in what she thought was a “TV prank show.”
Indonesia’s Deputy Ambassador to Malaysia Andreano Erwin said on Saturday that 25-year-old Siti Aisyah believed she was shoving a liquid like “baby oil” on the face of 46-year-old Kim Jong-nam, allegedly unknown to her at the time, because “somebody asked her to do this activity” in return for just 400 Malaysian ringgit (€85).
Erwin, who was granted consular access to Siti in Kuala Lumpur earlier in the day, added that it was too early to say what charges might be leveled against the Indonesian national.
Malaysian police officials announced on February 14 that Kim Jong-nam had been attacked by two female assailants, Aisyah and a Vietnamese national identified as Doan Thi Huong, at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport a day earlier. The arrested female attackers reportedly wiped some form of toxic agent over Kim’s face. He died en route to the hospital.
Jong-nam’s corpse underwent at least two autopsy operations by Malaysian forensic experts to determine what exactly caused his death. Pyongyang, however, on February 23 censured Kuala Lumpur for performing an “immoral and illegal” autopsy on the body and playing politics with the case. It, however, did not refer to the deceased by name.
On Friday, Malaysian police authorities announced that the chemical substance that killed Jong-nam had been the extremely toxic VX nerve agent. The United Nations has declared VX, the most lethal nerve agent ever created, a weapon of mass destruction that fatally disrupts the nervous system once absorbed through the skin.
Meanwhile, Malaysia said that it would issue a warrant for the arrest of Hyon Kwang-song, a second secretary at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur, in order to question him regarding the assassination if he does not voluntarily cooperate with police after giving him a “reasonable” time.
South Korean police have claimed that Jong-nam was killed by North Korean agents, while the North flatly denied the allegations on Thursday, saying the man died due to a heart attack.
The assassination of Jong-nam not only created a growing rift between Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur, which had warm and full mutual ties, but also dragged Vietnam and Indonesia to the crime scene.
Jong-nam, who studied in Russia and Switzerland, was a computer enthusiast and fluent Japanese speaker. After completing his overseas studies, he oversaw North Korea’s information technology policy. He fell from grace in 2001, however, and had been living in exile since 2003. He was reportedly an occasional critic of Pyongyang, advocating reform.
His death is the second most high-profile death during the reign of his younger brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, since the execution of Jang Song-thaek, the brothers’ once powerful uncle, in December 2013.