As I said before, I don't think Pyongyang expected the assassination of KIm Jong-nam to hit the news in quite the way it has. A regime which has so little concern for human lives or the niceties of international relations may not have anticipated such a dramatic fall-out, with the story still in the headlines some two weeks after the event.
There's now what seems to be a stand-off in Kuala Lumpur, as the North Korean embassy refuses to give up the two suspects they're holding to the Malaysian police, all the while furiously denying any responsibility and, of course, blaming the South Koreans or the Malaysians themselves.
In fact in many ways they're shooting themselves in the foot by antagonising the Malaysian government so brazenly. The Malaysian authorities are already talking about throwing the North Korean ambassador out of the country and even cutting off diplomatic relations. But Malaysia has long been one of North Korea's closest allies - albeit clandestinely. From Reuters: North Korea spy agency runs arms operation out of Malaysia, U.N. says.
It is in Kuala Lumpur's "Little India" neighborhood, behind an unmarked door on the second floor of a rundown building, where a military equipment company called Glocom says it has its office.
Glocom is a front company run by North Korean intelligence agents that sells battlefield radio equipment in violation of United Nations sanctions, according to a United Nations report submitted to the Security Council seen by Reuters....
U.N. resolution 1874, adopted in 2009, expanded the arms embargo against North Korea to include military equipment and all "related materiel".
But implementation of the sanctions "remains insufficient and highly inconsistent" among member countries, the U.N. report says, and North Korea is using "evasion techniques that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication.”
Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world which had strong ties with North Korea. Their citizens can travel to each other’s countries without visas. But those ties have begun to sour after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother was murdered at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on Feb 13.
And Joshua Stanton:
[I]f Pyongyang deserves the brunt of our outrage, a second object of outrage should be the Malaysian government itself, which had long been warned in U.N. reports that Pyongyang’s agents on its soil were violating U.N. sanctions and the laws of other nations, yet did little to curtail them. Report after report identified Malaysia as the home base of North Korean spies, smugglers, arms dealers, slave traders, money launderers, and procurers of tools to make missiles. In allowing this activity to go on for years, the Malaysian government not only allowed North Korea to endanger Malaysians, but to endanger the citizens of other countries — and indeed, the security of the entire world.