Vietnamese recruited 2 months before Kim Jong Nam’s murder

Malaysia (AP, Mar 14,2018): A Vietnamese woman accused of murdering the estranged half brother of North Korea’s leader was recruited by a North Korean suspect at a Hanoi bar two months before the killing, her lawyer said Wednesday.

Details about Doan Thi Huong are emerging for the first time since she was charged, along with Siti Aisyah from Indonesia, with smearing Kim Jong Nam’s face with the banned VX nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur’s airport on Feb. 13 last year. The two are the only suspects in custody, though prosecutors have said four North Koreans who fled the country were also involved.

Lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told the court that Huong told police shortly after she was detained last year that she was introduced to a Korean man known as Mr. Y by a Vietnamese bar owner in December 2016. Mr. Y has been identified in court as Ri Ji Hyon, one of the four North Korean suspects who fled Malaysia.

Huong said Nguyen Bich Thuy, who was a former co-worker at a pub, called her and asked if she wanted to work for a Korean company as an actress in a “short movie or funny video,” according to her police statement read out by Teh. She said she was introduced to Mr. Y at the Hay Bar, which belonged to Thuy and her husband, and asked for a salary of $1,000 a month.

Huong said she participated in her first prank outside Hanoi’s Opera House, where she was told to kiss a stranger on the cheek. She said in the police statement that it was unsuccessful because the person shied away.

Teh told the court that Thuy had declined to come to Malaysia to testify but was questioned by Vietnamese police in March last year and made sworn statements that supported Huong’s claims to police.

The lawyer said Thuy told Vietnamese police that Mr. Y, who speaks fluent Vietnamese, had initially wanted to recruit her but she declined due to family commitments. She said she then remembered Huong loved to act and introduced her.

The youngest of five siblings, Huong, 29, said in her police statement that her parents were farmers and that she studied accounting at Hanoi Business and Technology University and later worked for three years as a waitress in Hanoi.

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