Kuala Lumpur's Restaurateur 'Helped S.Korea Spy on Kim Jong-nam'

Su Jin Jang, Feb. 21, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

Kim Jong-nam was a regular customer at a Korean restaurant in Kuala Lumpur's busy Bukit Bintang district, its owner claims. Koryowon is run by a South Korean named Alex Hwang, a long-term expatriate who now tells the press he helped South Korean authorities spy on Kim

"South Korean intelligence asked me in 2014 to collect plates, spoons and cups he'd used, put them in a vinyl bag and hand them over to the South Korean embassy," Hwang told the Chosun Ilbo on Monday.

The aim, he says, was to collect Kim's fingerprints and DNA samples. "A lot of South Koreans here, including myself, live in fear of possible reprisals," Hwang said. Kim, he says, came to eat at his restaurant eight times from 2012 until the middle of 2014. He usually came with his second wife Ri Hye-kyong.

Since 2013, Hwang contacted embassy officials each time he visited. "Embassy officials or intelligence agents came several times and watched him secretly from a distance," Hwang said.

The plot thickens. In 2013, Hwang was asked by intelligence officials to take a photo of him eating, so Hwang checked the CCTV footage after every visit -- only to find no records.

"Perhaps the bodyguards had special equipment that interfered with the CCTV or perhaps somebody erased the footage, I don't know," he said.

Hwang claims he last saw Kim around the middle of 2014. When Kim finished paying for his meal, Hwang said he approached him and asked, "Why don't you consider going to South Korea now that Jang Song-taek has been executed and the atmosphere is quite tense?" Kim stopped as he was leaving the restaurant, turned around and smiled.

"Some media reported that I was close friends with Kim, but that isn't true," Hwang said. "I was quite nervous and tense each time he came."

Experts here say there is no equipment available that can make people invisible to surveillance cameras.

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