Kim Jong-nam’s body, 2 N.K. suspects leave for Pyongyang

BEIJING, The body of the slain half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday was transferred on a flight to Pyongyang en route to Beijing as Malaysia and North Korea have agreed to resolve a diplomatic row over his death, sources said.

Two North Korean suspects involved in the killing of Kim Jong-nam also left for Pyongyang on the same flight after a stopover in China, they added.

On Thursday, Malaysia agreed to send to North Korea the body of Kim, who was killed last month in Malaysia by two Asian women who smeared the banned chemical weapon VX nerve agent on his face.

Those who left for Pyongyang are Hyon Kwang-song, the second secretary of the North Korean Embassy in Malaysia, and Kim Uk-il, an employee at Air Koryo, the country's flag carrier. They were believed to be hiding at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur after Malaysian police named them as the suspects.

The Thursday agreement effectively ended the diplomatic row over Kim's death, which brought the two nations to the brink of their relationship being severed.

Malaysian police earlier said that eight North Koreans are suspected of being involved in the killing. North Korea claimed that Malaysia colluded with South Korea to manipulate the probe.

Malaysia canceled its visa-waiver program with North Korea and kicked out North Korea's top envoy to Malaysia in response to the North's "diplomatically rude" behavior.

Pyongyang imposed a temporary exit ban on nine Malaysians staying in the North, taking them as diplomatic hostages. In a tit-for-tat action, Malaysia banned North Korean diplomats from leaving the country.

But both nations agreed to lift a travel ban imposed on citizens staying in each other's countries. They also decided to "positively" discuss the re-introduction of the canceled visa-waiver system.

Under the deal, the nine Malaysians were released from Pyongyang and arrived in their home country, according to Malaysian reports.

The two countries said that Kim's body will be delivered to "the family of the deceased" in North Korea, spawning speculation that it would be the North's leader Kim Jong-un.

The whereabouts of Kim Jong-nam's family members are not known after they reportedly left their home in Macau.

Kim Han-sol, known as the second son of Kim Jong-nam, appeared in a YouTube video clip in early March, saying that his father had been killed.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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