Kuala Lumpur: Two women being held over the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam said today they thought they were taking part in a prank video, with one of them reportedly telling a senior diplomat she was paid just RM400 (USD 90) for her role. Almost two weeks after the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was killed with a lethal nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur airport, Malaysian teams in hazmat suits sealed off the scene of the assassination today to sweep the site for toxins.
Two women are seen shoving something into Kim's face in leaked CCTV footage from the airport. He later suffered a seizure and was dead before he reached hospital. Malaysia revealed yesterday the 45-year-old was assassinated with a lethal nerve agent manufactured for chemical warfare and listed by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah, who was arrested soon after the assassination on February 13, said she believed she was handling a liquid like "baby oil", the country's deputy ambassador to Malaysia Andreano Erwin said according to reports. Siti, 25, "only said in general that somebody asked her to do this activity", according to Erwin, who was granted access to Siti in Kuala Lumpur today.
Another female suspect, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong, 28, is also in custody over the murder, but Erwin said Siti had told Indonesian consular staff she did not know her. Huong told Vietnam's foreign ministry that she believed she had been tricked into killing Kim and thought she was taking part in a prank for a comedy video. "During contact with embassy staff, Huong said she...had thought she was playing a role in a humorous video clip," a statement from Vietnam's foreign ministry said.
Huong gained notoriety after Malaysian police shared CCTV images of her wearing a top emblazoned with "LOL" shortly after the killing. Malaysian police have said one of the women arrested after the attack fell ill in custody, adding she had been vomiting. However, Erwin said Siti was physically healthy while Vietnam said Huong was "in stable health".
The news yesterday that lethal VX nerve agent was used in the attack brought condemnation from South Korea, which has pointed the finger at the North over Kim's death. Seoul slammed the use of the toxin as a "blatant violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and other international norms".
The fallout from the attack continued after US media reported unofficial talks in New York between North Korean and former American officials had been cancelled.