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Pacific News Minute: Malaysia Takes Diplomatic Retaliation Against N. Korea

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Following the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of North Korea’s leader, Malaysia has recalled its ambassador from Pyongyang and revoked visa free entry for North Koreans. And, as we hear from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute, more diplomatic retaliation may follow.

Two North Koreans named as suspects in the murder have taken refuge in the North Korean Embassy and refuse to cooperate with the investigation. Infuriated by such a brazen and dangerous attack in the middle of its biggest airport, Malaysia revoked visa free travel as of next Monday. North Korea can be expected to reciprocate.

According to the New York Times, about a thousand North Koreans live and work in Malaysia, where they enjoy rare access to global markets and banks. What happens to them is not yet clear and the diplomatic crisis is far from over.

South Korean and Malaysian officials believe that the four man team that actually carried out the assassination immediately returned to North Korea. Another team handled logistics, one is apparently still at large, another is in Malaysian custody, though Attorney General Ri Jong Choi said today he will be released and deported. The two suspects hiding in the embassy include a senior official with diplomatic immunity, and an employee of Air Koryo, the North Korean state run airline; he could be arrested as soon as he leaves Embassy grounds. 

On Wednesday, the two women who smeared VX nerve agent on Kim Jong Nam’s face were charged with murder. They say they were duped, and thought they were part of a prank for a television show. North Korea denies responsibility and says the women could not have handled such a deadly substance without killing themselves and others.

Over 36 years with National Public Radio, Neal Conan worked as a correspondent based in New York, Washington, and London; covered wars in the Middle East and Northern Ireland; Olympic Games in Lake Placid and Sarajevo; and a presidential impeachment. He served, at various times, as editor, producer, and executive producer of All Things Considered and may be best known as the long-time host of Talk of the Nation. Now a macadamia nut farmer on Hawaiʻi Island, his "Pacific News Minute" can be heard on HPR Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
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