Suspects Caught in Murder of Wife of North Korean Official

November 3, 2021 Topic: North Korea Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: North KoreaKim Jong UnMurderScandalPolitics

Suspects Caught in Murder of Wife of North Korean Official

The investigation proceeded quicker than these types of cases in North Korea typically do, with the probe beginning just five days after the crime.


Reports surfaced in September that the wife of an officer in the North Hamgyong Province Ministry of Social Security in North Korea had been murdered. Now, suspects have reportedly been apprehended in that case.

Two suspects in the murder were arrested in mid-October by the Hoeryong Ministry of Social Security, according to Daily NK. The two suspects are both females. One is thirty years old and the other is forty years old.  

The report said the investigation proceeded quicker than these types of cases in North Korea typically do, with the probe beginning just five days after the crime.

The online newspaper’s source described the case as a “grave case politically” because the murder of a prominent person took place in “broad daylight.” 

One suspect had spoken on the phone with the victim on the day of the murder, according to the report. Following interrogation, she “conspired with [the other suspect] to murder the victim after luring her to the area near the [local] zoo.” And in a twist, it turned out that both suspects “were informants of the victim’s husband, an officer with the Ministry of Social Security,” the Daily NK reported.

“The local Ministry of Social Security appears to be attempting to conceal the results of the investigation, possibly because of the impact the case could have [on public opinion],” according to the Daily NK. 

“A force of fifteen people were mobilized from the city’s Ministry of Social Security Criminal Investigation Department and the Inspection Department to track down the suspects,” Daily NK reported. “The decision to put such a large number of people on the case was made because the authorities apparently believed it would expedite the investigation.”

A murder carried out in relation to North Korea, by two young female suspects, draws echoes of the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the exiled older half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In 2017, Kim Jong-nam was killed in the airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when a pair of young women approached him with the deadly nerve agent VX.

The two women claimed—in interviews and in a subsequent trial—that they thought they were participating in a YouTube prank show and had no idea about any assassination. 

The affair was the subject of the 2020 documentary Assassins, which covered the backstories of both the Kim dynasty and the two women accused in the assassination. It also shared that Kim Jong-nam was exiled from the Kim family, in part, after he used a forged passport to attempt to visit Disneyland in Japan. The documentary noted that the two Kims, despite being brothers, had never met one another.

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. 

Image: Reuters