KUALA LUMPUR, March 31: North Korea and Malaysia resolved their diplomatic disagreement after Malaysia sent Kim Jong Nam’s body to North Korea. The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur airport.
The body of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was sent back to North Korea following an autopsy. In exchange, North Korea released nine Malaysians who were being held in Pyongyang and returned them to their homeland.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak tweeted, “Thank God all nine Malaysians from Pyongyang have arrived safely in our home land.”
The Malaysians who had been held in Pyongyang, three embassy staff members and six family members, were banned from leaving North Korea during the diplomatic spat. They were met at the Kuala Lumpur airport by Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman early on Thursday. Mohamad Nor Azrin, the counselor of the Malaysian Embassy in North Korea, said all of the Malaysians who were stuck North Korea were allowed to move around and were not threatened while in Pyongyang.
“We were very concerned because we had done no wrong. But we had to keep our spirits up,” he said.
Anifah said Friday that the body of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was on a plane destined for North Korea after being kept in a hospital morgue in Kuala Lumpur for six weeks following his death. Kim Jong Nam was poisoned by the nerve agent VX, a banned chemical weapon, in the Kuala Lumpur airport on February 13. Two women suspected to be involved in the death have been charged in the case.
The death caused a diplomatic rift between the countries, resulting in Malaysia and North Korea expelling each other’s ambassadors and preventing each other’s citizens from leaving the country.
With Thursday’s exchange, both Malaysia and North Korea lifted the travel bans.
The body of Kim Jong Nam was requested by a family member, but Najib did not specify exactly who. Kim’s wife and children were living in exile in Macau before the murder. They are now believed to be in hiding.