BEIJING (AP) — A North Korean diplomat said Thursday the killing of a man confirmed by Malaysian police to be the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader was a political conspiracy engineered by Washington and Seoul.
Pak Myong Ho, a minister at North Korea's embassy in Beijing, said the Feb. 13 murder of Kim Jong Nam in Malaysia was a "despicable and extremely dangerous" plot by the U.S. and South Korea aimed at smearing North Korea's image and subverting its regime.
Pak said "indiscriminate claims of behind-the-scenes manipulation" would fail, referring to allegations by South Korea's spy agency that North Korea masterminded the assassination.
North Korea has demanded that Malaysia hand over the body and angrily objected when it conducted an autopsy. It also has refused to acknowledge that the victim was the older half-brother of leader Kim Jong Un, referring to him only by the name in his North Korean diplomatic passport, Kim Chol.
Malaysian media say police confirmed Kim Jong Nam's identity using DNA from his son which was obtained overseas and brought to Malaysia.
The incident has led to a sharp deterioration of ties between Malaysia and North Korea, with each expelling the other's ambassador.
North Korea has blocked Malaysians from leaving the country until a "fair settlement" of the case is reached. Malaysia then barred North Koreans from exiting its soil. The two countries have also scrapped visa-free travel for each other's citizens.