Malaysia calls North Korea conspiracy claims 'delusional' after Kim Jong Nam death

The Malaysian government has expressed dismay at North Korean claims it had a hand in the death of Kim Jong Nam. A week on, the body of dictator Kim Jong Un's half-brother has yet to be claimed by a relative.

Armed guards stood outside the morgue where Kim Jong Nam's body was being held on Tuesday, as officials denied reports that a family member had come to claim the corpse of the half brother of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un.

Media reports had earlier suggested that the dead man's son Kim Han Sol was expected to arrive in Malaysia on Tuesday, but so far no one had been able to confirm his presence in the country.

North Korea's long killing streak

Living in the crosshairs

High-profile defector Hwang Jang-Yop survived numerous assassination attempts before dying of natural causes at the age of 87. Hwang, who had been one of the leading ideologues of the North's isolationist regime, escaped to South Korea in 1997. Just months before his death in 2010, Seoul authorities arrested two North Korean military officers over one of many plots to kill him.

North Korea's long killing streak

Uncle not 'fed to the dogs'

The execution of Kim Jong Un's uncle Jang Song Thaek, once the second most powerful man in the isolated country, sent shock waves beyond North Korea's borders. Many media outlets wrongly reported that he was fed to hungry dogs, as punishment for his "betrayal" of the ruling family. In reality, he was shot, according to Pyongyang officials and South Korean intelligence.

North Korea's long killing streak

Rumors of brutality

In 2015, Seoul's security services reported that North Korean Defense Minister Hyon Yong-chol was executed by an anti-aircraft gun. However, National Intelligence Service (NIS) soon appeared to backtrack from the report, saying that Hyon might still be alive. Reports of other brutal executions, involving artillery shells and flamethrowers, have also been difficult to confirm.

North Korea's long killing streak

Poisoned needle

North Korean defector and well-known dissident Park Sang-hak was also targeted by a Pyongyang-linked hitman. In 2011, South Korean authorities arrested a former North Korean commando over the plot to assassinate Park Sang-hak with a poison-tipped needle.

North Korea's long killing streak

Removing a rival?

The estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un was reportedly poisoned by two women at a Kuala Lumpur airport. While details remained sketchy, it was widely believed the killers were sent by the North Korean regime. The 46-year-old Kim Jong Nam had been living abroad after falling from grace in 2001 for visiting Disneyland in Tokyo.

"We're still waiting for next of kin to report to us," said Malaysian Director General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah.

Kim was killed one week ago, after being sprayed in the face with an unidentified chemical at a Kuala Lumpur airport.

Politics | 16.02.2017

Officers arrested a 28-year-old Vietnamese woman, a 25-year-old Indonesian woman and two other suspects over the death, though it later emerged that the two women may have been tricked into thinking they were merely playing a prank on Kim. One of the women was wearing a shirt with the acronym "LOL" ("laugh out loud") on the front.

Immediately following the incident, Kim reported feeling unwell to airport staff. He suffered a seizure and died en route to a local hospital.

Pyongyang alleges Malaysia-South Korea conspiracy

The autopsy determining the exact cause of death was still pending on Tuesday, prompting North Korean ambassador Kang Chol to say that his government "cannot trust" Malaysia to carry out the investigation. He then accused Kuala Lumpur of conspiring with Seoul to assassinate their leader's brother.

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Malaysia calls in N. Korea envoy over Kim killing

South Korean intelligence accused Pyongyang of ordering a hit on Kim, having failed to assassinate him once in 2012.

"The statement by the ambassador was totally uncalled for. It was diplomatically rude. But Malaysia will stand firm," said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Foreign Minister Anifah Aman added that Chol's accusations were nothing but "delusions, lies and half-truths."

Forty-six-year-old Kim Jong Nam was long considered to be the heir apparent to his father, Kim Jong Il, as the late dictator's eldest son. However, he fell out of favor following a highly embarrassing incident in 2001 in which he attempted to travel to Japan on a fake passport in the hopes of visiting Disneyland Tokyo.

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He had lived in exile in Macau for at leat six years, and he was meant to be traveling back home when he was attacked at the airport.

es/se (AFP, dpa, Reuters)