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Malaysia returned the body of Kim Jong Nam to N. Korea

Posted April. 01, 2017 07:09,   

Updated April. 01, 2017 07:13

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After having been held in Malaysia for 46 days, the body of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, returned to North Korea on Friday. “In terms of international custom and humanitarian purpose, China has provided the needed assistance for a transfer of the body of Kim,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China said on Friday, confirm‎ing that the body of Kim and three suspects in the killing of Kim, who had hidden in the North Korea’s embassy in Malaysia, headed back home via Beijing. The swap deal of the citizens was made between North Korea and Malaysia on Thursday after Malaysia had agreed to release the body of Kim and suspects in exchange for allowing nine Malaysian hostages, including diplomats and their families, to flee from North Korea and return to Malaysia. In the end, the Malaysian government has given up its commitment to identify the culprit of poisoning Kim, which shocked the world, due to China’s intervention. This will be remembered as one of the worst cases of a diplomatic failure from a hostage standoff.

It is understandable that the Malaysian government has tried to protect its citizens more than anything else. However, the Malaysian authorities have already announced the names of North Korean suspects and suggested the North Korean government’s involvement in the killing of Kim. Unfortunately, Malaysia has released suspects, who were not hesitant to use a nerve agent in its airport, to North Korea and further mentioned the resumption of a negotiation over visa exemption between two countries. Malaysia’s surrender is ignorance of humanitarian principles and abandonment of its national sovereignty. Moreover, it could give a wrong signal to North Korea who had violated the Vienna Convention on diplomatic affairs by holding hostages including diplomats and their families.

In the meantime, the South Korean government should be asked for its role during the course of negotiation between Malaysia and North Korea. The public wonders how much efforts South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se has spent to prevent Malaysia from releasing the body. Has he done enough to convince Malaysia? South Korea is standing at a critical juncture, but its lackluster diplomatic efforts cast cloud over future of the nation.

Kim’s body, now returned to Pyongyang, had been appropriately treated, and it is highly likely that toxic materials remain in his body. The North Korean government has never acknowledged that the victim was Kim Jong Nam, and instead, said it was Kim Chul. North Korea has brought the body back to Pyongyang with a request for a body transfer from his wife, who used a fake identity using the name Lee Yong Hee. Against the backdrop, the chances are high that North Korea will destroy any evidence suggesting its involvement. The North Korean government seems to be satisfied for not being held accountable for the killing of Kim through terrorist assassination. On the other hand, the international community has vividly witnessed North Korean terrorists committing murder with a deadly position that has been more often used in a chemical war. The South Korean government should make more diplomatic efforts for stronger cooperation with Malaysia and ASEAN members in order to pressure North Korea.