The main event in the development of the plot surrounding the murder in Malaysia was the fact that on 3 March 2017, Malaysian authorities deported Ri Jong Chol, a citizen of the DPRK, who had previously been detained on suspicion of involvement in the murder. After a week of detention he was expelled from the country due to problems with his work visa and was not employed where stated in his documents.
South Korean mass media, having already announced that Ri was the organizer of the assassination and the manufacturer of the poison, described the situation with undisguised sadness: “Ri Jong Chol assisted the organizers of the murder, but the local prosecutor’s office was not able to bring an action against him because he never admitted his guilt and evidence was insufficient”. He seems to have picked up four North Koreans at the airport, who South Korea attempted to declare on the wanted list, but no evidence was found in the apartment they rented, or in other areas they could have been, nor were traces found of any chemicals or signs that these people could store or produce the poison.
But a murder charge has been brought against the direct executors of the murder. A statement to the media declared that Doan Thi Huong and Siti Aisya were charged under Article 302 of the Criminal Code of Malaysia, punishable up to death by hanging. But the Supreme Court will proceed to trial no sooner than in a few months, so the investigation is going to be a long one.
However, the demonization of the DPRK continues to unfold. On 24 February, commenting on the news concerning the VX, a representative of the Foreign Ministry of South Korea said that the use of chemical weapons is a violation of relevant international agreements. A report by the head of the special services of South Korea declares the murder a terrorist attack, in which officials of the North Korean government departments participated, including the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of State Security.
Acting President of South Korea Hwang Kyo-ahn also stressed that “the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the North Korean leader’s brother, confirms the inhumanity of the regime in Pyongyang. In this regard, it is essential to constantly put human rights on the agenda in dealing with the North”.
Furthermore, the head of the South Korean Foreign Ministry Yun Byung-Se urged the UN to suspend North Korea’s membership. As he said, “the murder of Kim Jong-nam is a challenge to the global community, and before human rights violations in the DPRK reach the highest point, the people involved in these crimes must be held accountable”.
Meanwhile, if we discard our assumptions, we see a very interesting picture.
Firstly, it is unclear who was killed. According to the documents, we have a man named Kim Chol, who, on assurances by the North Koreans, has a diplomatic rather than a regular passport. (How this relates to flying lowcost is a separate issue, but even Tae Yeon Ho complained of low wages). Relatives of the body did not identify him and a DNA test was not done; in the Chinese blogosphere, they discuss at length a theory that the wrong person was killed, pointing to some oddities in the photo, and the Ministry of Health of Malaysia declared that the body will be relinquished only after it is definitively identified.
Nevertheless, in South Korea the deceased Kim Jong-nam was identified from the start, and they showed so much interest in him that they demanded Russia to extradite the suspects; though, to put it mildly, the investigation is being done in Malaysia and not by South Korean police, who did not address Moscow with such a request.
Secondly, it is unclear “who killed, whom and with what”. In theory, it is possible to synthesize a small dose of poison, and afterwards, having taken the antidote and other precautions, to do exactly as the investigation describes. But this theory about evil people deceiving girls with a promise of a televised competition instantly falls apart. Also, it does not quite fit in with what is seen on the video, and the statement by the deceased that something was sprayed in his eyes, not that someone grabbed his face.
Whose chemical agent it was is also unclear: according to experts in South Korea, the arsenal of chemical and biological weapons belonging to North Korea may exceed 2.5 thousand tons, and the DPRK advisor in Geneva offices Chu Yong Chol said that chemical weapons in North Korea have never been produced, stockpiled or used. It would be logical, if it was really VX, to send samples for testing to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which would be able to perform an examination.
However, the report by the National Intelligence Service of South Korea, presented on 27 February to the parliamentary committees featured a wealth of information of unknown origin, including the harrowing details of how the young women were recruited and how the murder was carried out right up to who was responsible for what.
Thirdly, the work in the investigation is accompanied by a flock of “stool-pigeons” of all colors, so it is not surprising that the Malaysian authorities have announced a sort of moratorium on the disclosure of investigative information until the investigation comes to some clearly defined conclusions supported by evidence.
It seems that investigators are tired of not only North Korea’s escapades, but also consistent and persistent distortions emanating from South Korean media. More than once, the Malaysians only needed voice some speculation in the press when South Korea would instantly turn it into evidence, creating gems like “the fact that the laboratory, where, perhaps, the poison was produced, is just two kilometers from the home of the North Korean diplomat, clearly proves the involvement of Pyongyang in the assassination”.
But since the South Korean side uses arguments of such force, the author would like to parody South Korean propaganda, and using the same rhetorical devices and pseudo-logical conclusions, show how it is possible on the basis of the same facts, accuse not Pyonghang but Seoul, no less categorically.
Consider how often South Korean intelligence officers or journalists share details that only the organizers of the murder could actually know, revealing details of what happened, when the investigators hadn’t had time to find any of it out themselves. This can be clearly seen when VX was mentioned, the poison appeared in South Korean media long before the traces of VX could be detected in the slightest.
One can point to the fact that the two women involved were in South Korea and were actively in contact with South Korean citizens, one of whom left South Korea for France the exact same day as the assassination. Muckraking journalists uncovered that the suspects visited at least once the South Korean island of Jeju Province in male company. One of them was accurately identified by the owners of the place where they stayed, and the other “looked similar”. So it seems that the North Koreans who attempted to be declared on the wanted list and companions of young women are different groups of individuals.
Also, we must note that friends of the Indonesian woman, describing her new acquaintances, called them “not quite Japanese, not quite Korean”. Taking into account that due to the effects of the “Arduous March” North and South Koreans are noticeably different from each other: South Koreans are easily confused with Japanese, while the North Koreans – not so much.
Doesn’t this prove that representatives of not North but South Korea were involved in the murder? If so, then we are talking about a multi-move operation, aimed at the retention of power by conservative circles in South Korea.
As is well known, after Ban Ki-moon recused himself, there no longer remained an reasonable and charismatic political leader in the conservative camp who could seriously compete with the Left. Meanwhile, South Korea has enough youth with “alternative right-wing views” and a significant portion of their representatives have already taken up certain positions in the army and law enforcement agencies. So, one cannot deny the possibility of the existence of a secret organization like the Japanese “young officers” or the group that in 1961 brought General Park Chung Hee to power.
The plan of these “young colonels” who theoretically have enough forces and resources to carry out an attack on an unguarded goal is quite simple. A sensational murder committed in the right place, at the right time, will clearly aggravate the inter-Korean and regional situation, and significantly increase the probability of provocations or even a military incident. Against the background of this “war alert”, Conservatives introduced martial law, which radically changes the rules of the game. Firstly, the power, of course, there remains in the hands of the current Acting president who is much farther right in his views than Park Geun-hye. It’s sufficient to recall the role he played in the destruction of the United Progressive Party when he was Minister of Justice. Secondly, during this time, one can deal with opponents from the left camp via non-parliamentar
Moreover, if we take as true the ‘Sankei Shimbun’ newspaper’s information that the deceased was supposed to hold a secret meeting with a senior Japanese politician, and that they were going to discuss improving relations between the two countries, then Seoul has an additional motive.
As you can see, with the proper political bias and the ability to manipulate the facts we have obtained quite a realistic and logically consistent theory. Had the author not mentioned it beforehand in an ironic context, it could well find its rightful place on any conspiracy site next to the story that President Kennedy was killed by the extraterrestrial lobby for wanting to disclose communications between the American establishment and “little green men”.
Konstantin Asmolov, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.“