Questions arise on the fate of Kim Jong Nam’s body

The issue of how Kim Jong Un disposed of the body of his half-brother Kim Jong Nam has become a central topic of interest in North Korea’s marketplaces. Although the North Korean authorities received the body, no official announcement has been made, let alone a funeral service. Rumors that the body must have been secretly buried are spreading among the residents. 
On March 31, 46 days after the murder of Kim Jong Nam, his body was repatriated to North Korea. The handover followed a period of diplomatic tension between North Korea and Malaysia, as North Korea detained Malaysian citizens within the country and Malaysia responded in kind. Although these details were never revealed to the North Korean public, the secretive approach by the regime is arousing curiosity. 
“Rumors related to the Marshal’s (Kim Jong Un)’s half-brother are spreading through the markets in Pyongyang and Pyongsong. The news of Kim Jong Nam’s murder overseas is already widely known, and now people are talking about what happened to his body,” a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK.
“People are saying that the regime did not hold a national funeral service for the Marshal’s family member. Some think that it must mean that Kim Jong Nam committed a serious crime while abroad. Even high-ranking officials in Pyongyang have no concrete information on the matter. So it seems likely that the funeral service was held privately or his body was buried in secret.”
Discussions are naturally flowing toward the complicated relationships within the Kim family. Some residents are saying, “The General (Kim Jong Il) also had a half-brother himself, and now the Marshal (Kim Jong Il) has a half-brother, too. The Kim family is very complicated.”
“It seems that the authorities believe that ordinary citizens are unaware of the death of Kim Jong Nam or even his existence. But most people have already concluded that the regime chose to handle the matter in secrecy because it wants to conceal these facts from the people,” the source added. 
Despite the regime’s efforts to thoroughly conceal the news, discussion of the assassination and the whereabouts of his body has been spreading. “Because we (people in the border areas) use Chinese mobile phones to talk to people across the border, most of the residents are aware of the Kim Jong Nam story. The traders often say that Kim Jong Nam’s body must have been handled with utmost secrecy to prevent people from speculating on who was responsible for his murder,” a source in North Hamgyong Province said.
“In particular, residents in the border areas believe that the regime took the Malaysian citizens in North Korea hostage to pressure the Malaysian government into repatriating the body. The regime must have been desperate to recover his body because the agents involved in the murder of Kim Jong Nam are literal ticking bombs that can leak secrets anytime.”
However, since the very mentioning of the Kim family is considered a serious crime, these rumors are not being spoken in public. Both sources reported that most of the residents are refraining from saying anything about the matter in public in fear of being arrested.
Kang Mi Jin
Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to