Think North Korea, Think Fear

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It seems like everything to do with North Korea has the element of fear.

Jong-nam Case

Court proceedings take place in courtrooms, but Friday’s session of the Kim Jong-nam case was held inside Kajang Women’s Prison due to security fears.

The 30-minute proceedings were brought to the prison grounds for case management where the prosecution handed over 44 documents to the defence. Mention of the case before High Court judge Justice Azmi Ariffin was fixed for Jul 28.

Datuk Naran Singh, who is in the defence team representing Doan Thi Huong, said the two accused were present during the case management.

“There were interpreters as well as embassy representatives. They (the accused) looked all right,” the lawyer added.

Siti Aisyah’s lawyer Gooi Soon Seng said some of the documents would be sent to experts in Denmark and other countries to get assessments on the alleged use of VX.

“In the post-mortem…they have confirmed that the cause of death was by VX. So we will be looking thoroughly at the VX aspect,” Gooi said.

A week ago, Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun reported that Kim Jong-nam is believed to have had US$120,000 (RM511,806) in his possession when he was assassinated – a fact that may be linked to a mysterious meet-up with an unidentified man in Langkawi days before his murder.

The man, described as a “middle-aged Korean-American based in Bangkok”, was believed to have links to a US intelligence agency and had met up with Jong-nam a few times before.

It was said that a USB memory stick had been inserted into Jong-nam’s laptop, which fuelled speculation that a large volume of information may have been transferred out.

Quoting Malaysian investigation officials, Asahi said that Jong-nam may have been paid for information.

AFP

It added that there was no record of Jong-nam making bank withdrawals of that amount in Malaysia.

Asahi also reported that police discovered four bundles of cash, each containing 300 US$100 (RM426) bills, in a black bag.

AFC Asian Cup Qualifier

North Korea’s coach is angry with the two postponements of the North Korea-Malaysia AFC Asian Cup qualifier because of security fears.

“I have to tell you I have lived in Pyongyang for one year and it’s a nice city, a city where we can live like in Europe and I don’t know why Malaysia was afraid of coming,” Norwegian coach Jorn Andersen said.

“What I can tell you from what I read what many other people write about North Korea (is that they) are mostly wrong,” he said. “When they write these wrong things, they have to think about it first. I have lived in Pyongyang for a year and I have no problems. I don’t understand why other people write these things,” he said.

Getty Images

Otto Warmbier

In the light of American student Otto Warmbier’s release several days ago with extensive brain damage, Andersen’s remarks are not very reassuring.

Warmbier, 22, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labour after allegedly attempting to steal a poster while on a cultural tour of North Korea.

When he was finally released after 18 months in prison and sent home to Wyoming, Ohio, on Tuesday, he had been in a coma for the better part of a year.

Doctors said he was in a deep coma and although he is able to breathe unaided, he has shown no awareness of his surroundings. He has lost brain tissues from all regions of the brain and there is little hope of a recovery.

Doctors added that he opens his eyes and blinks spontaneously, but that there is no indication that he understands language nor does he respond to verbal commands. It’s a condition they describe as “unresponsive wakefulness”, or a persistent vegetative state.

North Korea officials claimed Warmbier fell into a coma shortly after his incarceration in March 2016. They said he suffered from botulism and then took a sleeping pill, and that he had been in his current state since then.

While botulism does cause nerve damage, despite numerous tests on Warmbier since his return, no evidence of botulism has been found.

Doctors indicate that Warmbier’s current state is consistent with the aftermath of cardiopulmonary arrest that deprives the brain of blood. He could have suffered cardiopulmonary arrest as a result of intoxication, traumatic injury, or an overdose of medication (intentional or unintentional).

Wow, from healthy tourist to vegetative state due to unknown reason is scary.

Hard not to think fear when you think North Korea.