Malaysia has requested the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur allow a diplomat and an airline employee to submit to a probe into the death of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother the North's incumbent leader, a source said Monday.
Malaysian police said last week that Hyon Kwang-song, the second secretary at the embassy, and Kim Uk-il, an employee at Air Koryo, the country's flag carrier, are suspected of being involved in the killing of Kim on Feb. 13.
Kim was killed at an airport in Malaysia after two Asian women allegedly wiped VX nerve agent on his face. VX is a deadly compound banned around the world as a chemical weapon.
|This picture compiled with photos released by the European news photo agency EPA on Feb. 22, 2017, shows three North Korean suspects who are at large in Malaysia in connection to the death of the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Hyon Kwang-song (R), 44, is the second secretary of the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The next photos show a 30-year-old man identified as Ri Ji-u (C) and Kim Uk-il (L), a 37-year-old employee at Air Koryo, the North's flag carrier. (Yonhap)|
Malaysia's foreign ministry is believed to have sent an official document requesting the North Korean mission to cooperate in the investigation as Hyon and Kim are wanted for questioning, according to the source.
Both are thought to be inside the embassy, with Hyon having diplomatic immunity.
"Despite Malaysia's request, it is very unlikely that North Korea would cooperate with the inquiry," the source said.
Malaysian police earlier said that eight North Koreans are suspected of being involved in the death of Kim Jong-nam, the first son of late former leader Kim Jong-il.
They arrested one North Korean man while looking for three others, including Hyon and Kim. Four others are believed to have escaped to Pyongyang after fleeing Malaysia on the day of the attack.
South Korea earlier said that it is highly likely that North Korea is behind the latest death.
Seoul's unification ministry on Monday slammed Pyongyang for using VX nerve agent, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.
"We strongly condemned North Korea for using a chemical weapon against a civilian," Jeong Joon-hee, a ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing. "The government plans to take joint actions against Pyongyang with the international community."
Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said at a forum that now is the time to make North Korea realize that it cannot sustain the regime with reign of terror.
"North Korea has repeatedly conducted abnormal and inhumane activities," Hong said. "Such a behavior would be based on its calculation that it can get what it wants by stoking fears and terrors."
Malaysia said Sunday that Kim died within 20 minutes of being poisoned with VX.
North Korea blamed Malaysia for pressing ahead with conducting an "illegal and immoral" autopsy on Kim's body. It claimed that Malaysia colluded with South Korea on the probe.
A diplomatic row is deepening between Malaysia and North Korea as the Southeast Asian country got angry at Pyongyang's "baseless" claim over the collusion. There is growing speculation that Malaysia will cut off its diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.
Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur have maintained diplomatic ties for more than 40 years and each have an embassy in the other country.
Malaysia is one of the few countries that North Koreans can travel without visas. (Yonhap)