Where in the world is Kim Jong Un’s dead half brother?
It’s been more than a month since a pair of female assassins killed Kim Jong Un’s half brother with a toxic nerve agent in Kuala Lumpur’s airport, and Malaysian authorities are still trying to decide what to do with his dead body.
Since the death of 45-year-old Kim Jong Nam on Feb. 13, the corpse of the North Korean leader’s estranged elder sibling has been kept in a hospital morgue in Malaysia’s capital. On Tuesday, however, Malaysia’s New Straits Times newspaper reported that preparations were underway to put the body on a plane to Beijing, where it will make a stopover before heading to Pyongyang.
But it looks like that hasn’t happened — at least not yet. Local media outlets have offered conflicting accounts of what’s going on with the corpse.
Malaysia’s China Press reported Monday that the body was removed from the morgue and possibly sent to a crematorium, but reporters from New Straits Times spotted medical officers bringing a coffin back to the hospital on Tuesday “wrapped tightly in plastic with a red ‘Fragile’ sticker on it.”
Meanwhile, Malaysian Health Minister Subramaniam Sathasivam insisted that it would only hand the remains over to Kim Jong Nam’s next of kin.
Sathasivam said Malaysian authorities are awaiting instructions from “those responsible for the body” before deciding how to proceed. He said Kim Jong Nam’s family members, who reside in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, “have not come forward to provide assistance on how the body is to be treated.”
“We have to check with the forensics department if there was any requirement to bring the body out, but as far as we are concerned, there is no change in status quo,” Subramaniam told reporters Tuesday, according to Reuters.
In addition to the fate of the dead body, actual lives might be stake. Ever since Malaysian authorities accused North Korean agents of masterminding the plot to kill Kim Jong Nam, nine Malaysian citizens have been held in Pyongyang and blocked from leaving the country.
The situation arose after Malaysia ignored protests by North Korea and conducted an autopsy that determined Kim Jong Nam had been poisoned with VX nerve agent, a chemical weapon that North Korea is thought to possess. Two young women from Vietnam and Indonesia claim they were duped into carrying out the assassination, but Malaysian police are still seeking seven North Korean suspects in connection with the killing, including three hiding in the country’s embassy in Malaysia.