Malaysia embalms Kim Jong Nam's body, awaiting next of kin

The Malaysian authorities officially confirmed Wednesday that the person assassinated at Kuala Lumpur airport last month using the deadly nerve agent VX was Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un.

The body, now kept in a morgue in the capital, has been embalmed to prevent it from decomposing more than a month after the assassination, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

On demands for an worldwide inquiry into the Kim Jong-nam case, Dr Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia had "no problems" with it.

No next of kin has come forward to claim the body. "This is based on a sample taken from his child", Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters. Pyongyang announced it would stop Malaysians from leaving North Korea, a move that Prime Minister Najib Razak condemned.

In retaliation, North Korea had barred Malaysians from leaving the country on March 7.

Pyongyang, which never confirmed Kim's identity, has repeatedly demanded the return of his body to North Korea.

In response, Malaysia briefly blockaded the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur last week.

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Up to 100,000 North Koreans are believed to be working overseas and their remittances are a valuable source of foreign currency for the isolated regime.

Two-thirds of the 39 countries that North Koreans can travel to without a visa are Asian and African countries, including Cambodia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda. They wanted the body and said Malaysia should hand it over because he was a North Korean national.

The workers were employed in mines and construction sites in the state. He had spoken out publicly against his family's dynastic control of the isolated, nuclear-armed North Korea.

North Korea has, to date, also referred to the victim as Kim Chol, including in its limited state media coverage following his death, in which it has identified him as "a citizen of the DPRK bearing a diplomatic passport".

The attack was caught on surveillance video that shows two women going up to Kim and apparently smearing something on his face.

Kim died within 20 minutes of the attack, before reaching the hospital.

Two women - one Vietnamese and one Indonesian - have been arrested and charged with the murder.

  • Sonia Alvarado