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A family in peril

Mar 09,2017
A video posted on YouTube Wednesday shocked the world. In the footage, Kim Han-sol — the eldest son of Kim Jong-nam, who was allegedly assassinated by North Korean agents last month at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia — says, “My father has been killed a few days ago. I am currently with my mother and sister.”

Cheollima Civil Defense, a group supposedly engaged in humanitarian activities for North Korean defectors, posted the video on the global video-sharing website, explaining that Kim’s family requested help after Kim Jong-nam’s assassination. The group also stated that it immediately helped them move to a safe place after meeting them. If that’s true, Kim Han-sol might have taken refuge in an unidentified country to escape from North Korean agents after he and his family’s safety also was threatened by the North Korean government after his father’s death.

Our government needs to find where Kim Han-sol and his family are and check if they are still safe because they were victimized by the Kim Jong-un regime even though they had been members of the ruling class. Kim Han-sol is the first great-grandchild of North Korea’s founding father Kim Il Sung. If they need protection, our government must find ways to help them survive.

In case they want to defect to South Korea, the government must consider ways to ensure their safety after their arrival here. The survivors can help lay bare the brutal nature of the recalcitrant regime in Pyongyang through public testimony. The international community also must take advantage of the video posting to roll up its sleeves to rescue victims of the ruthless regime and enhance their human rights.

Evidence of the rogue state’s violence and recklessness are plenty. On Tuesday, for instance, North Korea shocked the world once again by banning Malaysian nationals in the North from departing from the country after diplomatic conflict arose between Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur over the heinous murder of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia. At the moment, eleven Malaysians — three diplomats and their families and two officials dispatched from the World Food Program — are staying in North Korea on official duty. Detaining them is a brazen violation of international law and diplomatic custom — practices that Pyongyang excels at.

We cannot but question what really forced North Korea to kill Kim Jong-nam through toxic chemicals the international society strictly bans.

The North’s act of taking the innocent Malaysian people hostage will only aggravate its isolation. The action will only deepen the international community’s skepticism about the appropriateness of the North’s UN membership. The clock is ticking.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 9, Page 30