Media frenzy at KLIA as Jong-chol prepares for deportation to Pyongyang

FAISAL ASYRAF and TEOH PEI YING

SEPANG: North Korean citizen, Ri Jong-chol, who was released from police custody this morning, has arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) about 4pm today.

Jong-chol, 47, who was previously remanded over a probe into the Feb 13 murder of Kim Jong-nam, half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is being deported, following his release.

Jong-chol spent more than seven hours at the Immigration Department headquarters, being processed for deportation.

The car ferrying Jong-chol was seen entering the KLIA terminal building using the airport’s Fire and Rescue Department entrance.

Sources said he is boarding Malaysia Airline MH360 to Beijing, China at 6.25pm.

A horde of media personnel, both foreign and local, had assembled at the KLIA since morning for a glimpse of Jong-chol.

Earlier, the media had swarmed a car ferrying Jong-chol’s wife and children.

Two cars, including one bearing diplomatic plates, arrived at KLIA about 3.15pm.

The car ferrying Jong-chol’s family members had to make two about turns at the airport, due to the overwhelming media presence. Reporters and photographers had surrounded the car when it made a stop at Gate 6, prompting the vehicle to speed off.

Jong-chol’s family members were seen covering their faces.

They managed to escape the media by entering the airport also via the Fire and Rescue station entrance.

At press time, there has been no official confirmation on whether Jong-chol’s family members will be deported together with him to Pyongyang.

North Korean Embassy counselor Kim Yu-song, who arrived five minutes after Jong-chol’s family members, remained stoic and ignored all questions by the media.

He only said that he was here for “personal reasons.”

Yu-song was seen handing over an envelope to a man, believed to be an Immigration Department officer in a car before he left the premises. - Additional reporting by Fairuz Mohd Shahar