By Keita Ikeda / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent KUALA LUMPUR — Two women suspected of murdering Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport were likely to have been recruited ostensibly for a practical joke TV show and may have been unaware that it was actually an assassination plot.
Posing as Japanese?
Suspect Siti Aisyah, a 25-year-old Indonesian, visited her parents’ house in the western part of Java Island on Jan. 22 and said she had been hired by a Japanese TV producer to take part in a Japanese variety show, according to a relative in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday. The relative added that Siti said she had filmed a practical joke show in Jakarta that day, so it is possible a North Korean was passing himself off as Japanese.
According to the digital edition of Malaysia’s Chinese-language China Press, an Asian man who appears to be a North Korean agent made contact with the two female suspects as early as three months before the murder.
China Press reported that Doan Thi Huong, a 28-year-old woman with a Vietnamese passport, first met the man three months ago in Malaysia. To earn her trust, the man visited Vietnam with her and they went shopping together in South Korea.
The man reportedly met Siti a month before the murder. He recently introduced the two women to each other and asked them to take part in a program in which they were to surprise people by playing practical jokes.
Indonesia’s national police Chief Tito Karnavian said that information provided by Malaysian police claimed Siti said she had filmed the show three or four times and received payment each time. Siti was quoted by Malaysian police as saying that she did not know that it was an assassination plot by a foreign agent.
Growing up poor
Indonesian website Detik reported that Siti had been paid between 2 million rupiahs (¥17,000) and 3 million rupiahs (¥25,000) per show. Having grown up in a poor family, Siti got divorced in about 2012 and lived separately from her former husband and son. She visited her former husband’s parents in late January and left a little cash for her son.
Siti was working as a shop employee on Batam Island in Indonesia while appearing on TV programs at various times and sent part of the remuneration to her mother and others, the media said.
Dreams of stardom
The North Korean man apparently made Siti believe she could become a star by repeatedly appearing on TV programs.
According to local newspaper Warta Kota, Siti recently told her relatives she was asked by a TV producer to go to North Korea sometime in late February or March. She told people around her she would become a celebrity in North Korea. To back up her dream, her family invited religious figures to pray for her success.
Siti phoned her mother on the night of Feb. 16 — two days after she was arrested — reportedly saying: “Don’t worry. I just followed directions. I hope to be released soon,” according to the paper.Speech