North Korean double whammy: Regime claims body of Kim’s assassinated sibling rival, hails arrest in Seoul

by WorldTribune Staff, March 31, 2017

On the same day that Malaysia released the body of North Korean dicator Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother and top surviving rival, Kim Jong-Nam, South Korea announced the arrest of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.

The dual news sensations were cause for celebration in Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

North Korea reached a deal in which it was able to claim Kim Jong-Nam’s body from Malaysia in return for the release of nine Malaysians who had been essentially held hostage in North Korea.

Initially, infuriated Malaysian authorities intended to return Kim’s body to his family after his widely-publicized death by two women assassins at the Kuala Lumpur international airport that was captured on a security video that went viral.

Three North Koreans wanted for questioning in Kim Jong-Nam’s assassination were also allowed to return home from Malaysia.

Malaysian Insight quoted Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali as saying that authorities in Kuala Lumpur also allowed two North Korean diplomats to leave “to secure the safe release” of the Malaysians. He did not name the diplomats.

Kim Jong-Nam was assassinated in Kuala Lumpur last month. The ensuing diplomatic row resulted in both countries banning each other’s citizens from leaving.

Jong-Nam, the late Kim Jong-Il’s eldest son, was passed over for the leadership and had been living outside North Korea for many years. As the first-born son of the late dictator Kim Jong-Il, he was favored by Confucian tradition and certain elements in the leadership of both China and North Korea as his father’s successor.

The two women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese, who smeared a nerve agent on Kim Jong-Nam’s face, are in custody facing murder charges, but it is not known how much they have been able to tell Malaysian authorities.

Authorities believe the nerve agent used was VX, a substance so dangerous it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

Park Geun-Hye, center, leaves the prosecutors’ office as she is transferred to a detention house on March 31. /Getty Images

Meanwhile, impeached South Korean leader Park Geun-Hye was arrested on charges including bribery and was taken to the Seoul Detention Center on March 31.

Park is accused of colluding with a friend, Choi Soon-Sil, to pressure big businesses to contribute funds to foundations that backed her policy initiatives.

Park and Choi, who is already in custody and on trial, deny any wrongdoing.

Related: Profiles in Korean corruption: First female president may be seen later as tragic figure, March 30.

Park and her lawyers had argued that she should not be arrested because she did not pose a flight risk and would not try to tamper with evidence. But the court disagreed, and said she might try to manipulate evidence, Reuters reported.

Prosecutors now have 20 days to build their case while Park remains in detention.

The events of March 31 come just ahead of the North’s biggest official festivities of the year, the April 15 celebrations of the birth anniversary of national founder and “eternal president” Kim Il-Sung.