The body of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was released by Malaysia to North Korea on Thursday, more than a month after his murder at Kuala Lumpur’s airport unleashed a fierce diplomatic battle between the two countries.
Following negotiations that he described as “very sensitive,” Prime Minister Najib Razak said that Malaysia agreed to release the body in exchange for the return of nine Malaysians held in North Korea’s capital. There were no details on what led to the breakthrough, but North Korea appeared to win some important concessions: custody of the body and the release of at least two suspects who had been holed up in its embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Oh Ei Sun, an adjunct senior fellow with Singapore’s Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said it was not a surprise that North Korea came out well in the negotiations.
“North Korea has been performing despicable deeds around the world such as kidnapping and assassinations throughout the decades with impunity,” Oh said.