South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said four of eight suspects identified by Malaysian authorities in the assassination in Kuala Lumpur’s airport are agents of North Korea’s secret police agency, the Ministry of State Security. Lee Byung-ho, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service director, told a closed-door parliamentary hearing Monday that of the remaining four, two were employed by North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign affairs. The other two worked for Air Koryo, the state-run airline, and Singwang Economics and General Treading Corp., a firm facing United Nations sanctions.
All carried diplomatic passports issued by North Korea, making it easy for them to arrive in Malaysia.
“The assassination of Kim Jong Nam was an act of systematic terror ordered by Kim Jong Un,” South Korean legislator Kim Byung-kee later said in a televised address. “The operation was conducted with two assassination groups and one supporting group.”
A source told South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that Kim Jong Nam, who resided in Macau, oversaw his half-bother’s inheritance fund, as well as a fund owned by uncle-in-law Jang Song Thaek. Jong was executed in 2013. The source said the two half-brothers argued over Jong’s money, because the elder Kim refused to split the fund after Jong’s death.
Kim Jong Nam was attacked by two women while awaiting a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Macau. The women were caught on surveillance video smearing a substance on his face which Malaysian investigators said was VX nerve agent, in an attack that took less than five seconds. He died less than 20 minutes later as he was transported to a hospital.
In the closed-door briefing, Lee said the attackers worked in two four-person teams, and converged in Kuala Lumpur, legislators who attended the meeting said. Lee added that five senior officials in North Korea’s State Security Ministry were executed, and that Gen. Kim Won Hong, former chief of the secret police, was purged and in detention.