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NSC calls for harsh reaction to Kim’s murder

Feb 16,2017
The South Korean government on Wednesday was asked to come down strongly on the Pyongyang if it is confirmed to be behind the murder of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, through a meeting of the National Security Council.

“If the murder of Kim Jong-nam is confirmed to be committed by the North Korean government, that would depict the brutality and inhumanity of the Kim Jong-un regime,” said Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who is acting president, convening a meeting of the National Security Council.

“Our government, recognizing the very grave nature of the case, is paying close attention to the trend in North Korea,” said Hwang and that through closely reviewing the current situation in Pyongyang it will “take into consideration all possibilities including North Korea’s additional provocations and prepare for them thoroughly.”

He added Seoul is cooperating with Malaysian authorities to understand the truth of the case.

The NSC meeting, which included top foreign affairs and security officials, also discussed Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launch on Sunday and the regime’s unpredictable nature.

“Our foreign affairs and security agencies with the international community with special determination will bolster sanctions and pressure on the North Korean regime and gather all strength so that the Kim Jong-un regime will have no choice but to fundamentally change,” said Hwang.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se is expected to raise North Korea’s human rights issue in light of Kim’s assassination in an upcoming G-20 meeting in Germany, according to Seoul officials.

Top diplomats of the long-stalled six-party talks to denuclearize Pyongyang are expected to gather at the Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting in Bonn over Thursday and Friday. Yun is expected to hold talks with the top envoys of United States, China, Japan and Russia on the sidelines.

Bipartisan political parties also raised alarm over the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s older half brother by at least two agents in Malaysia on Monday.

“The poisoning of Kim Jong-nam is very shocking,” said Rep. Chung Woo-taik, the floor leader of the ruling Liberty Korea Party, during a party meeting Wednesday. “The North Korean dictatorship’s cruelty, brutality and depravity is again highlighted.”

Chung added, “Related agencies need to strengthen the protection of defectors, especially Thae Yong-ho,” the former North Korean deputy minister to London who defected to Seoul last year.

The three opposition parties also discussed measures to respond to the assassination of the North Korean leader’s half brother.

“If this is part of the reign of terror employed by Kim Jong-un, then there is a possibility this may lead to instability in the region,” said Choo Mi-ae, chairwoman of the opposition Democratic Party. “Our authorities need to find the truth and analyze the impact this will have on inter-Korean relations.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]