Relatives of the Vietnamese woman accused of assassinating the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this month told RFA that she was a “good girl” when she lived at home, but what happened after she left Vietnam is a mystery.
“We only know that she is a good girl at home,” Nguyen Thi Ha, the woman’s sister-in-law, told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Tuesday. “We don’t know what happened to her out there.”
Doan Thi Houng and Indonesian Siti Aisyah were arrested by Malaysian authorities and are expected to charged on Wednesday with the murder of Kim Jong Nam at a Kuala Lumpur airport on Feb. 13.
Local reports claim that Doan Thi Huong ran away from home to work at night in the entertainment industry. Since the arrests photos of Doan Thi Houng in a bikini and other outfits have surfaced on social media.
The suspects have told police they were duped into killing Kim Jong Nam by “friends” who told them it was just a harmless prank for a reality show, according to news reports.
Aisyah and Huong are believed to have been picked for the mission because their looks made them appear harmless.
Malaysian authorities say North Koreans arranged to have the deadly nerve agent VX on the hands of Aisyah and Huong, who then rubbed the toxin on Kim's face.
While news reports have focused on the women and the use of VX, Doan Thi Huong’s relatives say they are at a loss as to what to do.
“They told us today,” her father, Doan Van Thanh, told RFA. “We don’t know what to ask. We are in the countryside and money is tight. How can we ask (for legal help)? How can we find a lawyer? We don’t have the money to find a lawyer.”
On Feb 25, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted an announcement on their website, confirming Doan Thi Huong is a Vietnamese citizen and that her health is good.
“We are all surprised. Everybody says that she is innocent,” Nguyen Thi Ha told RFA. “We need to have money to give her any help.”
“To tell you the truth, we have to leave this case to the court,” she added. “We can’t save her even if we sold the whole village for money to help her. “
South Korea has blamed North Korea for Kim’s death, citing a “standing order” from Kim Jong Un to kill his older sibling, and a failed assassination bid in 2012 after his half-brother criticized the regime.
CCTV footage aired by Fuji TV that went viral on the internet shows two women carrying out the attack. Malaysian authorities arrested the suspects days later.
A North Korean man in Malaysian custody, Ri Jong Chol, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, is one of eight North Koreans whom police have named as suspects in the death of Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-sibling, according to news reports.
Reported by RFA's Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.