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Adding insults to injury

Feb 21,2017
Malaysia’s foreign ministry Monday called in North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol and ordered its ambassador to Pyongyang to return home. The Malaysian government took the step after evidence strongly pointed to North Korea as being behind the assassination last week of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. In a press conference a day earlier, local police authorities hinted at the possibility of Pyongyang orchestrating the heinous crime on Feb. 13 after saying that they confirmed North Korean suspects based on facts and evidence collected so far.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Kang bluntly claimed to a group of journalists that he could not trust the results of the Malaysian police investigation because “Kim Jong-nam died of natural causes.” Despite tangible evidence, including CCTV video that captured the moment of the murder, Kang attempted to cover up. He went so far as to say that the police investigation is “politically motivated,” calling for a joint probe together with North Korean authorities. We are dumbfounded at his strange logic.

Ambassador Kang even claimed that the Malaysian government is colluding with Seoul to push Pyongyang into a corner. That’s not just a totally groundless accusation, but an insult to Malaysia and South Korea. Kang insisted that only Seoul benefits from the murder as it could help the South Korean government distract attention from the political chaos after the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and the deepening controversy over the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antimissile system.

Ambassador Kang must want to cover up the truth as quickly as possible after all the evidence points to Pyongyang as being behind the merciless killing. The ambassador’s blaming of other countries will only intensify the international community’s suspicions about who would really order such a horrendous murder.

The Malaysian authorities reaffirmed the principle that they will hand over Kim Jong-nam’s body to his family after getting to the bottom of the case in accordance with the law. We welcome Malaysia’s position as it follows international law. North Korea must respect Malaysia’s sovereignty and follow its decision unless it desires international disgrace. If Pyongyang still insists on its innocence, it must cooperate with the Malaysian police for investigations after bringing several suspects back to Malaysia from North Korea.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 21, Page 30