On February 13, 2017, a crime shocked the world.
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Kim Jong Nam, the oldest brother of the supreme leader and chairman of the Workers’ các buổi party of Korea, Kim Jong Un, was at the Kuala Lumpur Airport in Malaysia. He was heading to Macau, where he was living at the time.
Security cameras captured two women approaching Kim Jong Nam & touching his face. Their names were Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam and Siti Aisyah from Indonesia.
One of them rubbed what looked lượt thích an oily substance on his face, then fled. Minutes later the other came from behind & put her hands on his nose và mouth, and then also ran away.
After the bizarre incident, a distressed Kim Jong phái nam sought assistance from the authorities, with security footage capturing him explaining the situation khổng lồ the police.
About an hour & a half later, the brother of North Korea’s leader collapsed. He died while being transported khổng lồ the hospital.
The cause of death was attributed khổng lồ the highly toxic VX nerve agent, thought lớn have been delivered by the hands of the two women who approached Kim Jong phái mạnh at the airport.
In March 2019, the charges were dropped against Siti Aisyah. Doan Thi Huong received a sentence of three years and four months after striking a deal and pleading guilty to “causing hurt by a dangerous weapon” — a lesser charge compared khổng lồ murder. Special mitigating circumstances caused Huong to walk không tính phí in May 2019.
Many questions remain unresolved about how the crime took place.
The two women appeared not lớn know what they were doing, nor did they know each other or the person they had help murder in the crowded Malaysian airport. Both women later told the police that they thought they were filming a prank video.
Many experts have since attributed the crime to North Korean operatives, as in fact Huong was seen minutes before the crime walking around the airport with a man who was suspected of being a North Korean agent.
Commentators speculated that the eldest brother of Kim Jong Un was seen by the establishment as a threat to the supreme leader, & an embarrassment to the family because of his taste for a lavish lifestyle, among other reasons.
How exactly did the murder take place? How was it planned? & how was a regular girl-next-door lured into becoming an assassin of the elder brother of one of the most powerful despots in the world?
In May 2019, Fuji Television got an exclusive interview with Doan Thi Huong, one of the very few people involved in the assassination. The documentary took a couple of months to lớn process, và has not yet been released in english. Through her interview, we learned more about what took place.
Approaching Doan Thi Huong
The story seemed lớn have started in a bar in downtown Hanoi in January 2017, when a friend beckoned Doan Thi Huong.
She was introduced khổng lồ a man who went by the name of “Mr. Y,” who told Huong he worked for the Korean truyền thông and made prank videos. He wanted to enlist her as an actress in his work.
Huong was an aspiring actress và singer at the time, và was thrilled khổng lồ have a big break on mass media. She gladly accepted the offer.
The mysterious Mr. Y would later ask her khổng lồ go with him to lớn film prank videos in public places, by approaching unwitting passersby, surprising them, và filming their reactions.
Huong also told Fuji Television that Mr Y was grooming her, buying her presents, taking her to an aquarium, and charming the unwitting Huong in fluent Vietnamese.
Together with another man who went by the name of Hanamoni, the threesome even went khổng lồ dine at a North Korean restaurant, which had often been suspected of being a hub for double agent activity.
According khổng lồ the Fuji TV investigation, Mr. Y was thought to be Ri Ji Hyon. Hanamoni’s suspected was Ri Jae Nam. Both identities were confirmed by Huong, who picked their faces out of a lineup of eight different North Korean agents.
The names of the two surfaced during the investigation. Both suspected North Korean operatives are internationally wanted for the commission of crimes & their whereabouts are unknown.
Huong recounted that Mr. Y would parade himself as her “manager.” Huong dutifully accepted this role, & in fact she would refer to lớn him as “manager” throughout the interview.
Then came the moment when Mr. Y told Huong he wanted to take her abroad for filming. She trustingly gave him her passport.
The stage was set. Mr Y had acquired the trust of the aspiring actress and, smiling, she told the Fuji Television reporter: “I’ve always been in my own country. I thought it must be exciting khổng lồ be working for a media company like an actress. Nobody dislikes travel, right?”
Preparing the Crime
The two travelled to lớn Malaysia, Cambodia, and many other places.
Initially, the aim was to lớn go lớn a location & film Huong surprise-kissing an unwitting onlooker. It was a tall order for Huong, who had not filmed a single prank clip before.
On February 2, 2017, Mr. Y asked her to change the prank — from behind, cảm ứng the chosen person on the eyes.
Huong did as instructed, và in fact this was caught on security cameras at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia. The footage was uncannily similar to the crime which would take place two weeks later, clearly suggesting that it was a rehearsal for the murder.
Huong again performed the prank nine days before murder. But this time she was told to lớn put cream on her hands, suggesting that the prank was in preparation for the nerve agent, which she would later rub onto the face of Kim Jong Nam.
Finally, Doan Thi Huong explained to the Fuji Television journalist, on the fateful day she was told that there would be two actors in the prank, but she didn’t want khổng lồ know who they were because otherwise the crime wouldn’t look natural.
As Huong explained: “If I knew at first, then it wouldn’t look natural…. He would just choose…and I would just go with it.”
The who, what, when, where, and how were decided. All that was left was to lớn carry out the crime on February 13, 2017.
The Banality of Murder
The “prank” came and went without a glitch. & the outcome was a murder investigation for the brother of Kim Jong Un that would last more than two years.
An interesting revelation from talking to lớn Huong was how clearly the details were thought out, but in a manner that assured the two women perpetrators would know as little as possible of what was going on.
Huong, for example, was told that it was up to lớn her whether khổng lồ wash her hands after carrying out “the prank,” but that if she did, she would need to lớn use a bathroom far away from where the “new actor” was. “The đoạn phim would not look natural,” Huong explained earnestly.
In fact, security cameras caught Huong heading towards the bathroom minutes after the crime, visibly trying to raise her hands và arms to lớn avoid dirtying her sleeve, as she explained it. That was presumably the highly toxic VX nerve agent, which Huong had unwittingly rubbed over the eyes & nose of Kim Jong Nam.
In her testimony, Huong unequivocally stated that she had no idea what was going on: “I didn’t know anything about what happened. I didn’t know that the video would get me into trouble like that.”
In order lớn connect the dots, Fuji Television also interviewed a former North Korean official who worked for 25 years in the intelligence unit và helped mix up the very organization the two suspects behind this crime were a part of.
The former official, who requested anonymity, explained the practice in plain terms: in the field, they hotline people lượt thích Huong “one-time use” — mere puppets who are picked & groomed for dirty work, and know nothing about what is happening so that no evidence would be left behind.
“The word ‘one-time use’ fits this situation perfectly. These kids are children. They don’t know anything. This is pure youthful innocence,” the former official said.
The former North Korean official also explained the status of Kim Jong Nam, lending credence khổng lồ the suspicion that the repressive state was behind the crime: “The international community considered Kim Jong phái nam an important figure. He wasn’t thought like that in North Korea. They thought he was nothing but garbage.”
In some ways, Fuji Television’s scoop helped uncover how worryingly straightforward the assassination of an important international figure could be.
In the meantime, the North Korean operatives suspected to be behind the planning of the murder have vanished, and the incident that caused an international crisis is nowhere near to being solved.