The brazen assassination of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia is a warning to North Korean elites thinking of defecting from the country via Malaysia, claims academic Go Myong-hyun, a research fellow from the Seoul-based Asan Institute for policy studies.
Go added that the assassination could have been carried out in Malaysia because it carried the least political risk compared to either Macau, China or Singapore – places where Kim Jong-nam is often seen. And as quoted in the Washington Post, Kim Jong Nam told Japanese journalist Yoji Gomi the Chinese government protected him in China and gave him a bodyguard, but did not do so elsewhere in Asia.
Go said that Macau was out of the question as it is a part of China and if North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un was indeed behind the murder, he wouldn’t want to create unnecessary conflict with China.
Go added that North Korea would not want to jeopardize their relationship with Singapore as it is an important regional hub for their overseas economic network. “Malaysia, in a way, is the least risky place to carry out the operation,” he said.
Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of leader Kim Jong-un, died shortly after an unidentified liquid was sprayed in his face on February 13 while at the airport in the Malaysian capital.
[The Star – Malaysia]