Special to WorldTribune.com
By Donald Kirk
The assassination of Kim Jong-Nam promises to go down as one of those weird acts of terrorism that North Korea, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, will forever deny having perpetrated.
The prevarication and obfuscation in this case would appear a little more ornate than North Korea’s unending denials of having anything to do with anything.
Forget about the sinking of the Cheonan in the Yellow Sea nearly seven years ago that killed 46 sailors, or the explosion over the Indian Ocean in 1987 of a Korean Air flight that sent 115 aboard to their deaths, or the bombing in the Burmese capital of Rangoon in 1983 that killed 21 – but missed its target, Chun Doo-Hwan, then South Korea’s president.
Don’t blame us, the North Koreans have said every time. Blame those villains, American and South Korean agents. Denials are easy.
Pro-Northers have stories to cover all the angles regardless of mountains of evidence to the contrary.
Now they’re coming out with the same type responses to the murder of Kim Jong-Nam, the outcast, exiled member of North Korea’s royal family, only this time it’s a little more difficult to pass the buck.
There are those video images of the Vietnamese woman smothering Jong-Nam’s face with a cloth smeared with poison as he was checking in at Kuala Lumpur Airport for the flight to Macau, his home base for years, and there’s the body, in the hands of Malaysian authorities while North Korea’s ambassador demands its return to the half-brother who hated him in Pyongyang.
Not to worry. Would it not make sense for the South Koreans and Americans and Malaysians all to get together on a yarn about the North Koreans putting the woman up to the job?
And wasn’t she cruelly tortured to tell stories so Malaysian police would arrest a poor Indonesian woman for distracting the victim, thinking she was on reality TV?
And where’s the proof the lone North Korean whom they also arrested, no doubt on the Vietnamese woman’s say-so, not to mention the four who returned to Pyongyang, via an elaborate route through the Middle Wast and Vladivostok, were parties to the plot?
Those are questions that advocates of North Korea are asking even as North Korean sponsorship of the deal becomes ever more obvious. Pro-Northers will go on zealously denying North Korean responsibility as if acknowledgement would be an act of betrayal of the king of the kingdom, “Respected leader Kim Jong-Un.”
It’s hard to deny, however, the absence of motive.
For a time, Jong-Nam was responsible for massive overseas bank accounts in Macau, a transshipment point for North Korean arms, drugs and counterfeit dollars, until Jong-Un cut off the funding after the death of their father, “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il, in December 2011.
No doubt Jong-Nam still had a pile in accounts here and there.
Controversy over the money, of course, was far from the only motive for Kim Jong-Un to do away with his half-brother, as he has hundreds of officials and their family members inside North Korea.
What about those interviews Jong-Nam had given doubting the kid would survive on the throne — surely not nice to say about your brother even if you had different mothers.
All that stuff, though, is irrelevant in the eyes of those who think Kim Jong-Un would never have been so cruel.
“Japanese media also tried to distract police investigation by releasing fake news saying the two North Korean women assassins were dead before police caught one of them identified as a Vietnamese national,” said a pro-Norther on facebook. “The SK and Japan media are acting so proactively trying to lead the local police investigation and public opinion….”
Nor was the CIA exempt. Diehard apologists for Kim Jong-Un are saying the shirt inscribed with the letters LOL the Vietnamese woman was wearing was part of the plot.
“It’s false flag ops, and we all know CIA is the world champion of false flag ops,” said another facebook message.
Why then had the woman returned to the airport? Was she really thinking of flying back to Vietnam, as reported by the silly media? Nope, she wanted “to get caught and give false testimony to distract the police investigation.”
Such are the tales the North Koreans are spinning. Amazingly, some people, looking for any reason to exonerate North Korea, profess to believe them.
Donald Kirk has been covering crises in Korea and the region off-and-on for decades. He’s at email@example.com.