SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Korea Bizwire) – The Malaysian government said Thursday that it will turn over the body of Kim Jong-nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s half-brother, to North Korea once the investigative process is complete, which officials expect will be as late as the beginning of next week.
Although it is customary for a government to request the body foreign nationals deceased overseas in a circumstance like this, North Korea has been unusually obsessive in trying to get its hands on Kim’s body as quickly as possible ever since the assassination.
In fact, North Korea even requested that Malaysian authorities transfer the corpse before the autopsy, while North Korean officials from the local embassy reportedly quarreled with the Malaysian police over the matter, resulting in an unusually long seven-hour postmortem examination.
Of course, the most obvious speculation explaining North Korea’s fixation on the assassination is to destroy relevant evidence – that it was North Korea itself who carried out the deadly operation on the first son of late leader Kim Jong-il.
The validity of the speculation and the reason behind the killing – if it is in fact true – remain uncertain, but North Korean experts claim that no fancy funeral ceremony will await Kim Jong-nam once his body is flown back home.
Multiple sources, including the Associated Press, said that many locals in North Korea are not aware of the existence of Kim Jong-il’s half-brother to begin with.
“North Korean residents have no idea who Kim Jong-nam is,” said Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korean Studies at Dongguk University. “State media will not be broadcasting the news of the body’s transfer, and even if there is a funeral, it will be held in secret.”
North Korean defector Kim Young-hee even said that Kim’s body will be treated like that of a local prison inmate, buried with no tombstone, if North Korea did actually carry out the assassination.
As a matter of fact, North Korean media has not mentioned Kim Jong-nam’s death, despite the assassination attracting widespread international media attention, and it is likely that the unfortunate former prince will have a lonesome journey’s end back in his home country.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)