KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — A group calling itself the Cheollima Civil Defence has claimed yesterday that it is protecting the family of Kim Jong-nam, following the North Korean heir’s alleged assassination in Malaysia.
The group has also released a video on YouTube titled “KHS Video” purporting to be Jong-nam’s son Kim Han-sol to prove his safety.
“Cheollima Civil Defence responded last month to an emergency request by Kim Jong-nam for extraction and protection,” the group said in a Korean-language statement on its site.
“The three family members were met quickly and relocated to safety This will be the first and last statement on this particular matter, and the present whereabouts of this family will not be addressed.”
“Cheollima” refers to the mythical winged horse in East Asian mythology akin to the pegasus, and is a significant symbol in North Korea.
Jong-nam’s grandfather and former North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung had named his programme promoting rapid economic development the Cheollima Movement. There is a statue of the Cheollima in Pyongyang, and the country’s football team is also nicknamed the same.
In the 40-second video, the man claiming to be Han-sol said he is currently with his mother and sister after his father was killed a few days ago.
He had also shown a passport as proof of his identity, but the particulars were redacted.
In a report today, Singapore-based broadcaster Channel NewsAsia said it has verified the man’s identity with Do Hee-youn, an activist with the Citizens Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees, who confirmed it was Han-sol.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar also told Channel NewsAsia he has not heard of the group, and said the police have their “own means of contacting the family”.
On its website, Cheollima Civil Defence had thanked the governments of the Netherlands, China, the United States, and an unnamed fourth country for supporting the alleged evacuation.
The group also singled out Netherlands ambassador to South Korea, Lody Embrechts, for his involvement and humanitarian response.
Putrajaya has previously rebuffed North Korea’s request for Jong-nam’s body, insisting that only his next-of-kin can claim it.
Last month, the police denied claims that family members Jong-nam had arrived in Malaysia for body identification at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, and they had not received any DNA sample from his family members.