The son of a former North Korean ambassador to Vietnam has been named as a suspect wanted for the assassination of Kim Jong-nam. He allegedly lured one of the arrested Vietnamese suspects into the murder plot.
Sources told South Korea's Yonhap news agency that 33-year-old Ri Ji-hyon – the son former diplomat Ri Hong – is fluent in Vietnamese as he had lived in the country for about 10 years.
The estranged half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was killed on 13 February at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, allegedly by two female assassins, who smeared a deadly chemical on his face. Doan Thi Huong, the Vietnamese suspect, and Indonesia's Siti Aisyah have been charged for the murder in Malaysia.
According to the news agency, its sources said that Ri was among four North Korean suspects who are believed to have fled to Pyongyang soon after the assassination. It was suspected that Kim Jong-un ordered the murder of his estranged half-brother.
Ri had reportedly worked as a trainee diplomat at the North Korean Embassy in Vietnam for more than one year in November 2009. He had also worked as an interpreter in the country and is thus, suspected of using his language skills to lure the Vietnamese woman into the plan.
Malaysia is conducting investigations into the killing and recently confirmed that the deceased was indeed the exiled half-brother of the North Korean ruler. Authorities said that they confirmed his identity using his DNA samples of his son.
Jong-nam was initially being referred to as Kim Chol – the name mentioned on his passport. He was killed while he was waiting to board a flight to Macau, where he was living after leaving North Korea.