Malaysia, North Korea in tense tit-for-tat travel bans as North Korea holds Malaysians hostage.

North Korea banned Malaysians from leaving the country Tuesday, triggering a tit-for-tat response from Kuala Lumpur which said its citizens were effectively being held “hostage” in the row over the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam.

Pyongyang’s extraordinary move came as it faced growing international condemnation for a volley of missiles it fired into the Sea of Japan, defying stringent global sanctions aimed at halting its weapons programme.

Tuesday’s developments marked a dramatic heightening of tensions with Malaysia three weeks after the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was murdered at an airport with the banned VX nerve agent.

The prohibition would remain in place “until the safety of the diplomats and citizens of the DPRK in Malaysia is fully guaranteed through the fair settlement of the case that occurred in Malaysia”.

The Malaysian foreign ministry said 11 of its citizens were currently in North Korea, including three embassy staff, six family members and two others who work for the UN’s World Food Programme.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned the bar, and said he was ordering a similar ban on the movement of “all North Korean citizens in Malaysia”. Analysts said they could number around 1,000.

The home ministry had previously indicated the ban only affected diplomats and embassy officials.

“This abhorrent act, effectively holding our citizens hostage, is in total disregard of all international law and diplomatic norms,” Najib said, according to a statement.

“As a peace-loving nation, Malaysia is committed to maintaining friendly relations with all countries.

“However, protecting our citizens is my first priority, and we will not hesitate to take all measures necessary when they are threatened.”

– Weapon of mass destruction –
Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur had unusually strong links for years, but ties have rapidly degenerated in the weeks since Kim Jong-Nam was attacked at a Malaysian airport by two women who wiped a deadly chemical on his face.

An autopsy revealed that to be VX nerve agent, a substance so dangerous it is classed as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN.

Seoul has blamed Pyongyang for the assassination, and Kuala Lumpur wants to question several North Koreans, although the only one it arrested was released last week for lack of evidence.

The North has never confirmed the dead man’s identity, but has denounced the Malaysian investigation as an attempt to smear it.

Kuala Lumpur announced the expulsion of the North’s ambassador over the weekend. He flew to Beijing on Monday, after launching a final verbal assault on his hosts.

Kang Chol slammed what he called a “pre-targeted investigation by the Malaysian police”. Photographs later showed him sitting in the economy section of the plane.

Pyongyang retaliated by formally ordering out his counterpart — who had already been recalled for consultations.

According to KCNA, the foreign ministry expressed hopes that the Malaysian government would solve the issue “as early as possible” from a position of “goodwill” and “setting store by and developing the bilateral relations”.

Malaysian diplomats and nationals in the North “may work and live normally under the same conditions and circumstances as before” while the travel ban is in place, it added.

The escalating row comes as the United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting to coordinate the global response to the North’s latest missile launches, which KCNA said Tuesday were trial runs at hitting “the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan”.

Three of the four projectiles fired Monday came down provocatively close to Japan, in what observers said was a test of US President Donald Trump’s inchoate North Korea policy.

In phone calls to his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Trump reaffirmed Washington’s “ironclad commitment” to its allies.

The US will demonstrate to Pyongyang that there were “very dire consequences” for its actions, the White House said in a statement.

Under UN resolutions, Pyongyang is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology, but six sets of sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons.

New US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will visit Japan, China and South Korea later this month, a weekend report said, with North Korea expected to top his agenda.

North Korea orders expulsion of Malaysian ambassador

North Korea said Monday it would expel Malaysia’s ambassador after its own envoy was ordered out of the Southeast Asian nation, in an increasingly bitter row over the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

“The Foreign Ministry of the DPRK (North Korea) notifies that the Malaysian ambassador to the DPRK is labeled as a persona non grata… and demanded that the ambassador leave the DPRK,” state news agency KCNA said, giving a 48-hour deadline.

The KCNA report came shortly after the North’s ambassador Kang Chol flew home from Kuala Lumpur.

North Korea has not acknowledged the dead man’s identity but has repeatedly attacked the murder investigation and demanded a second autopsy, accusing Malaysia of conniving with its enemies.

Airport CCTV footage shows two women approaching the 45-year-old victim and apparently smearing his face with a cloth. Police say he suffered a seizure and died less than 20 minutes later. Swabs of his face revealed traces of the VX nerve agent.

Two women — one Vietnamese and one Indonesian — are in custody and have been charged with the murder while police are seeking seven North Korean suspects, four of whom left Malaysia on February 13, the day of the assassination.

Police last week released the only North Korean they had arrested, citing a lack of evidence.

South Korea has blamed Pyongyang for the murder, citing what it says was a standing order from leader Kim Jong-Un to kill his exiled half-brother.


Source: AFP

Malaysia arrests third suspect in Kim Jong Nam’s death.

Malaysian police have arrested a third suspect in its investigation into the death of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un.

Abdul Mat, the police chief of Selangor state, told journalists that the suspect, a 26-year-old male Malaysian, was arrested in Ampang city of the state of Selangor.

According to the police, the man is believed to be the boyfriend of the second suspect, a bearer of an Indonesian passport who was earlier arrested.

The police have been looking into the connections between the suspects, while trying to pin down their roles in the death of Kim Jong Nam.

A local court has granted a seven-day remand order for the first two suspects.

The first female suspect, holding a Vietnamese passport, was arrested on Wednesday at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s second terminal, where the deceased Kim looked for help after feeling unwell on Monday.

Kim died later on Monday en route to hospital.

His body was taken to a hospital in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday for post mortem to ascertain the cause of his death.

Report says the results of the post mortem are yet to be released.

There are suspicions that his killers are agents of the North Korean government.


Source: Xinhua

Investigation: Kim Jong-un may have ‘ordered’ half brother Kim Jong-nam’s assassination

Kim Jong-nam wrote to Kim Jong-un in 2012 asking his half-brother and the recently anointed dictator of North Korea to spare his life and that of his family, the head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service revealed on Wednesday.

It comes as new pictures of a woman alleged to have been linked to the assassination team that killed the older brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Kuala Lumpur have been released by Malaysian media.

Kim Jong-nam, 45, died on Monday after collapsing at Kuala Lumpur International Airport while waiting to board a flight back to Macau, where he was living in exile.

Malaysian authorities have detained a woman in connection with the investigation. The woman, in her 20s, was detained in the low-cost terminal of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Bernama news agency reported, citing a deputy inspector general of police.

Who are the suspects?

There are two female suspects and four male, police sources told the Telegraph.  “One of the girls was told to hold a handkerchief on the face of the victim after he’d been sprayed by the other girl,” an unnamed senior police officer said. “She held it there for 10 seconds. She said she thought spraying him had been a ‘prank’.”

CCTV image of one of the suspects, reportedly arrested at the airport in Malaysia
CCTV image of one of the suspects, reportedly arrested at the airport in Malaysia

“One female suspect seen on CCTV was found wandering in the airport,” police said. She had apparently been “left behind” by the other assailants. The suspects were both Vietnamese and North Korean, police sources said.

Grainy CCTV images, published on the website of The Star newspaper, show a woman wearing a white shirt bearing the letters LOL and a blue skirt. She is carrying a small handbag over one shoulder.

The image emerged amid conflicting reports over the fate of the two women believed to have killed Mr Kim. Sources in Japan suggested that the two women were also dead, potentially having committed suicide.

A taxi driver, who is in his 30s, was also arrested soon after CCTV footage had been analysed.

CCTV images from South Korean media reportedly showing the alleged suspects
CCTV images from South Korean media reportedly showing the alleged suspects

“We have already looked through the CCTV footage, hence we managed to arrest the taxi driver who had taken the two woman who carried out the assassination,” said the senior police official who asked not to be named.

The women are thought to be agents of a foreign country, he said, refusing to speculate if they were hired by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, who is suspected of ordering the murder.

The North Korean government has sent a senior diplomat to Malaysia, the officer stated, and asked that a post mortem examination of the body does not take place. The request was denied.

Kim Jong-nam ‘begged brother not to kill him’

Lee Byong-ho, the director of the agency, told a meeting of the government’s Intelligence Committee that Kim Jong-nam had been murdered with poison in Malaysia on Monday and that he had survived at least one previous attempt on his life, Yonhap News reported.

After that assassination attempt, in 2012, Kim Jong-nam wrote to his brother and asked that no further attacks be directed at him or his family.

Mr Lee added that Kim Jong-nam had stated on more than one occasion that he had no ambitions to seize control of North Korea and that he posed no threat to his half-brother. His assassination, therefore, was a result of Kim Jong-un’s “delusional disorder”, he added.

Kim Jong-nam’s first wife, Shin Jong-hui, currently lives in a northern suburb of Beijing with a son, while a second wife, Lee Hye-Kyong, lives in an apartment complex in Macau with their son, Han-sol, and daughter, Sol-hui.

The Chinese authorities have reportedly stepped up security around the two families, although it is not clear whether that security has been extended to Chen Jia-Xi, his mistress, and at least three other children with different women.

Of particular concern is the safety of Kim Han-sol, the 21-year-old son of Kim Jong-nam, who was given a police guard at his university in France in 2013 as uncertainties about the stability of the North Korean regime continued to grow.

Kim Han-sol may have incurred the wrath of his uncle after describing Mr Kim as a “dictator” in an interview with a Finnish TV station in 2012. He added that his ambition is to help the people of a reunited Korean peninsula.

That runs counter to Kim Jong-un’s vision for his nation and it is possible that the dictator now sees Kim Han-sol as the potential heir to his father’s claim to the leadership of the North Korean people.

Kim Jong-nam ‘is not dead’ says North Korea

An unofficial spokesman for Pyongyang based in Japan claimed  Kim Jong-nam was not dead and reports of his assassination are a plot to discredit North Korea and deflect attention from political unrest in South Korea.

Kim Myong-chol, executive director of The Centre for North Korea-US Peace, told The Telegraph on Wednesday that the man killed in Kuala Lumpur on Monday is not the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

“That is not him and it is not a relative of Kim Jong-un”, he said. “If you listen to his accent, it is clearly South Korean and this is all a red herring.”

Kim Myong-chol claims that an imposter has been playing the part of Kim Jong-nam for several years at the behest of South Korea.

“This is all being done to divert attention from the impeachment of the South Korean president and to discredit North Korea”, he said. “It’s a plot and it’s nothing new from the South Korean government”.

South Korean spies says Kim Jong-nam poisoned by female assassins

Lawmakers in Seoul had said earlier that South Korea’s spy agency suspects two female North Korean agents assassinated Mr Kim.

BREAKING: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s brother ‘killed in Malaysia’.

The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been killed in Malaysia, South Korean government sources say.

Kim Jong-nam, 45, is said to have been targeted at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, the capital.

The BBC has not been able to independently confirm the reports.

Senior Malaysian police have confirmed that a North Korean man died in transit to hospital from the airport. They have not confirmed his identity.

Both South Korean state news agency Yonhap and Reuters news agency are reporting the news based on South Korean government sources.

Kim Jong-nam is the eldest son of Kim Jong-il, who ruled North Korea from 1994 until his death in 2011.

According to a report from TV Chosun, a cable television network in South Korea, Mr Kim was poisoned at the airport by two women, believed to be North Korean operatives. These details have not been confirmed elsewhere.

In 2001, Mr Kim was caught trying to enter Japan using a false passport. He told officials that he was planning to visit Tokyo Disneyland.

Once seen as a likely successor to his father Kim Jong-il, he was thought to have fallen out of favour with him over the incident.

Bypassed in favour of his youngest half-brother for succession, Kim Jong-nam kept a low profile, spending most of his time overseas, mainly in Macau.

He was quoted by Japanese media in 2011 as saying he opposed “dynastic succession”.

He was also quoted in a 2012 book as saying that he believed his younger half-brother lacked leadership qualities, the succession would not work, and that North Korea was unstable and needed Chinese-style economic reform.

He has reportedly been targeted for assassination in the past. A North Korean spy jailed by South Korea in 2012 was reported to have admitted trying to organise a hit-and-run accident targeting Kim Jong-nam.

North Korea knocks Obama for blacklisting Kim Jong-Un’s sister over human rights abuses

North Korea denounced outgoing US President Barack Obama for blacklisting leader Kim Jong-Un’s sister over human rights abuses, urging him to concentrate on “packing” as he exits the White House.

The US Treasury Department last week added seven individuals — among them Kim’s younger sister Yo-Jong — to America’s growing list of North Koreans sanctioned for “serious” rights abuses.

The Treasury announcement came as the US State Department released a report on rights abuses in North Korea, which it said were among the worst in the world.

Obama had created “the worst human rights situation in the US during his tenure”, it added. “He had better repent of the pain and misfortune he has brought to so many Americans and other people of the world.”

Nuclear-armed North Korea has carried out a series of atomic tests and missile launches during Obama’s time in office, and been subject to increasingly strict United Nations sanctions as a result.

Washington has long pursued a policy of “strategic patience” — essentially a refusal to engage in any significant dialogue unless Pyongyang makes some tangible commitment to denuclearisation.

The KCNA commentary slammed the Obama administration’s “extreme hostile moves” against Pyongyang, which it said only bolstered the country’s “military capability to mercilessly wipe out aggressors”.

US president-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Friday, has never clearly stated his policy on the isolated state, although he has tweeted that Pyongyang developing ballistic missile capabilities to threaten the US mainland “won’t happen”.

In his New Year’s speech Kim did not specifically refer to the incoming US administration, but called on Washington to make a “resolute decision to withdraw its anachronistic hostile North Korea policy”.

North Korea: Kim Jong-un’s Wife Reappears In Public After Long Mysterious Absence

The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reappeared in public after a nine-month-long absence. The reasons for her disappearance are still not known, but speculation has been rife.

Ri Sol-ju emerged in public along with Kim during an air combat training competition conducted by the Korean People’s Air Force and Defense (KPAF).

Pyongyang’s state-run mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported the event without many details about the presence of Ri. The exact date of the occasion is also unclear.

This is said to be the first time in nearly nine months Ri was mentioned by the North Korean state media as her last appearance was on 28 March.

Rumours have been doing the rounds that she might have been removed from Kim’s inner circle.

During the event jointly attended by Ri and Kim, the North Korean leader provided “field guidance” to the country’s air force personnel asking them maintain high vigilance. The

The KCNA dispatch said Kim “stressed that once an order of final attack is issued, they should promptly take off and mercilessly blow up the strongholds of aggression and pave a broad avenue to the units of the People’s Army advancing southward”.

The Korean peninsula has become highly unstable in recent months after the North’s nuclear and missile tests. Despite global condemnation, Pyongyang has refused to scale down any of its programmes. The regime has also reacted strongly to the recent economic sanctions announced by the UN Security Council.

The regime has also reacted strongly to the recent economic sanctions announced by the UN Security Council.

Credit: ibtimes

Kim Jong-un Orders Execution Of Military Officers For Failing To Give Soldiers Bigger Rice Portions

This man obviously doesn’t value human life. And the world can’t stop him? According to new reports, the North Korean leader ordered the execution of top-ranking military officials over their failure to give soldiers more food.
Kim Jong-un is reported to have ordered the killing of his vice armed forces minister, So Hong-chan, and a few others close to him for not following his orders.
This is coming weeks after he reportedly ordered the execution of his chief of defense, Hyon Yong-chol, for falling asleep during a meeting and not obeying his orders.
Source: LIB

North Korea Orders All Leader’s Namesake to Change Name

North Korea has ordered people who share the name of leader Kim Jong Un to change their names, South Korea’s state-run KBS television reported on Wednesday.

North Korea imposed similar bans on the use of the names of its two former leaders, Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, as part of propaganda drives to build cults of personality around them.

Kim Jong Un’s name is not allowed for newborns and people who share the name must not just stop using it but must change it on their birth certificates and residence registrations, KBS reported, citing an official North Korean directive.

Kim Jong Il, the father of the current leader, issued the order in 2011, when his son was heir apparent, KBS said. The elder Kim died in December that year and his son took power.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles ties with the North, could not immediately confirm the report but said it was plausible.

“The ban is highly possible since North Korea had the same policy in the era of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung,” a ministry official said.

It is not known how many people there are in North Korea called Kim Jong Un, but Kim is a very common family name and Jong Un are common given names.

Credit: Reuters