‘LOL Assassin’ walks free, questions linger

The infamous woman ‘LOL Assassin’ in the Cold War-style murder of the estranged half brother of North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, walked free from Kajang Prison this morning.

Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong wore a distinctive white LOL shirt when she and Indonesian Siti Aisyah boldly attacked Kim Jong-nam, 45, at klia2 two years ago.

Doan, 30, was released past 7am from Kajang Prison and taken to the Immigration headquarters in Putrajaya.

She is in the custody of the Immigration Department as her social visit stay in Malaysia had expired.

She was expected to be taken through special arrangement at KLIA before flying to Hanoi at 7.30pm for the three hours, 20 minutes journey home.

She was sentenced to three years’ jail on pleading guilty to a lesser charge of causing harm after prosecutors dropped the murder charge which carried the death penalty.

Her term was later reduced on account of a one-third remission of prison sentences allowed by Malaysian law.

Siti Aisyah, 28, who was also charged with murder, was in a surprise move allowed to return home to Indonesia on March 11.

Both women thought they were doing a TV prank.

The release of Doan is likely the final chapter in an incredibly notorious and intense murder case that gripped the world.

The perpetrators of Jong-nam’s high-profile death, thought to be North Korean spies, were never held accountable.

They escaped justice, spotlighting Malaysian police as incompetent and weak in investigations.

It appeared that out of diplomatic consideration, authorities focused on convicting Doan and Siti.

Jong-nam’s death had sparked a diplomatic standoff.

Four North Korean agents, holed up in their embassy in Kuala Lumpur, were later released in a swap for nine Malaysians seized at the Malaysian mission in Pyongyang.

That left Doan and Siti, two aspiring actors, facing the gallows for murder.

They maintained their innocence claiming they were duped into smearing VX nerve agent on Jong-nam’s face as he was heading towards check-in for a flight to Macau.

From LOL shirt to bullet proof vest

A reconstruction of how Doan was recruited by North Korean agents is contained in her statement to the police.

Here are some key points that would have emerged in court had she made her defence.

• It begins with a probably planned encounter by North Korean spies.

• She walks into a bar in Hanoi about seven weeks before Jong-nam’s death and meets Mr Y.

• Her statement reads: “I came alone and I saw Thuy (a lady friend) and a guy sitting at the counter. The guy was drinking beer.”

• Thuy introduces Doan to the man, saying he is Korean.

• A conversation ensues. Doan, impressed by Mr Y’s ability to speak fluent Vietnamese asks him his background. He says his parents are Vietnamese and South Korean.

• Mr Y says he is a South Korean cameraman for a comedy programme.

• Mr Y promises her fame over YouTube and describes how the “surprise video” would be made.

• He tells her a new actor (obviously Jong-nam) hired to make the “funny” video more effectual would be coming later.

• Doan is initially hesitant as she’s not keen on pulling the prank on an unwary person but agrees on being told about the “actor”.

• They discuss her pay at the first meeting.

• “I felt shy but he said I could ask for any amount, so I said I wanted US$1,000.”

• They shake hands and exchange phone numbers.

• A man said to be Mr Y’s boss later appears, calling himself “Halabeoji” (grandfather in Korean language).

• Doan says she began calling him “Hanamori” because she had difficulty pronouncing the name.

• The two men take Doan to various locations for practice runs.

• In the meantime, Mr Y showers her with gifts such as a pink jacket and cash.

• Doan says she was told to wear the pink jacket in the final video.

• She says she aspired to make it big in entertainment and lists her occupation as “actress”,

• She mentions that she worked at nightclubs and appeared on TV talent shows.

• Doan arrives in Malaysia on Feb 4, and the mock shootings continues with Mr. Y.

• On Feb. 11, they hold a practice run at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

• Johnson & Johnson’s baby cream is used in the prank.

• She relates how she prepared for the ‘show’. Wanting to look good on the “real stage”, she borrows scissors at her hotel and cuts her hair by herself.

• “I made my hairstyle wavy and made my makeup beautiful.”

• She chooses a white long-sleeve shirt with “LOL” (abbreviation for “laugh out loud) printed on the front.

• She meets Mr Y at the airport on the morning of Feb 13 and waits for the “actor.”

• When Jong-nam arrives, Mr Y puts “oil” on her hands.

• “I rubbed my hands on my side and it felt sticky and I saw a bit of yellow colour, the same that was on my hands.”

• She smears the substance on the face of Jong-nam.

• “I put my hands on his eyes and rubbed them on his face.”

• “But because he was surprised and looked at me, I didn’t rub it all on his face.”

• Immediately after the incident, Doan rushes to the restroom and washes her hands.

• When asked: “Do you know if the oil he put on your hands was poisonous?” Doan replies she did not think so because she felt no heat or pain in her hands.

• She later stays at a hotel near the airport, posting selfies and chatting with her family.

Two days later, she was arrested when she returned to the airport alone.

• “Why did you return to the airport?”

• “I didn’t receive payment from the company for the Feb 13, 2017, video, so I thought we were making another video on Feb. 15, 2017.

• “I went there on that day because I believed that Mr Y would be waiting for me.”

• Did you know the “actor” died? “I didn’t know the actor died until Feb 16, 2017, when police told me.”

• She says she does not know the name “Kim Jong-nam.”

• “He (Mr Y) is a liar. He used me to do the video on Feb 13, 2017 for him.”

Malaysian authorities confirmed that Mr Y and “Hanamori” are North Korean agents.

They fled Malaysia soon after the assassination.

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