Kim Assassination Revealed New Terror Method

Rachel Han, Feb. 27, 2017, 10:31 a.m.

The use of nerve agent VX in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, represented that the Stalinist regime has developed a “whole new type” of terrorist method, a former North Korean agent said Monday.

Kim Dong-sik, a former North Korean spy who defected to the South after being captured in 1995, said the apparent assassination case bears a hallmark he had rarely seen in the North, which has boasted a long history of terror tactics ranging from poisoned needles to disguised car accidents.

“The (Kim Jong-nam) case is different from previous ones. I think it is the first of its kind,” Kim said at a seminar at the National Assembly. He now works as a researcher of Institute for National Security Strategy, an affiliate of Seoul‘s National Intelligence Service.

Unlike other assassins recruited by North Korea, he added, the two women who swiped Kim Jong-nam’s face with VX and left the scene quickly might have undergone rigorous training to make it look like a “natural incident,” not an assassination attempt.

“I think the suspects rehearsed the killing dozens of time. ... It was conducted so naturally,” said the former North Korean agent, adding the two suspects -- one Vietnamese and one Indonesian -- might not have acknowledged they were participating in the killing of someone.

Deadly even in minute amounts, VX is banned under the Chemical Weapons Conventions of 1997 and 2005, to which North Korea is not a party. After attacking Kim Jong-nam, the suspects walked away and quickly washed their hands, according to Malaysian police. 

At the same conference, Yoo Dong-ryul, head of the Korea Institute of Liberal Democracy, a Seoul-based national security think tank, claimed that Kim Jong-nam suffered from financial troubles and asked his younger brother Kim Jong-un for living expenses.

Some analysts claimed the elder Kim, known for his gambling, extravagant spending and flamboyant lifestyle, was unable to enjoy such a lifestyle following the demise of his uncle Jang Song-thaek, the second-most powerful man in the North before being executed by Kim Jong-un in 2013.

South Korea’s top spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, earlier said Kim Jong-nam had faced murder attempts over the past five years, prompting him to send a letter to his younger brother to spare his life and the lives of his family. 

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