[Movie] How “Assassins” Exposes the Reality of Kim Jong-nam’s Murder (Director Ryan White) (a true story of Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong)

I wrote this article in Japanese and translated it into English using ChatGPT. I also used ChatGPT to create the English article title. I did my best to correct any translation mistakes, but please let me know if you find any errors. By the way, I did not use ChatGPT when writing the Japanese article. The entire article was written from scratch by me, Saikawa Goto.



Movies and books covered in this article

(Click This Image to Go Directly to the Amazon Prime Video Movie “Assassins”: Image from Amazon.com)

I will write an article about this movie/book

Three takeaways from this article

  1. Anyone could find themselves in the same situation as these women.
  2. The two assassins had only two legal outcomes: either “not guilty” or the “death penalty.”
  3. They ended up being caught in Malaysia’s unique situation as a friendly country with North Korea.

Let’s not think “I’ll be fine” and face reality. The world we live in is this dangerous.

Self-introduction article

Please refer to the self-introduction article above to learn about the person writing this article. Be sure to check out the Kindle book linked below as well.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

The quotes used in this article are based on notes taken at the movie theater from movies in Japanese and are not direct quotes from the foreign language original movies, even if they exist.

We are Living in a World Where “You” Might have been the “Assassin” of Kim Jong-Nam

“Ordinary Girls” Can Become “Assassins”

On February 13, 2017, shocking news spread around the world.

Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un, was assassinated.

The murder that took place in Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, which was carried out in front of many people, was of course recorded by crime prevention cameras, and the suspects, two women, Siti Aisyah from Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam, were arrested immediately.

However, from the beginning, the existence of North Korean operatives behind the incident was suggested. At the time of the incident, I was following the news, and if I remember correctly, a person who appeared to be a spy had been identified from the crime prevention camera immediately after the assassination. However, they quickly fled abroad or took refuge in the North Korean embassy in Malaysia. And, ultimately, these operatives became “acquitted” under North Korean “pressure.”

On the other hand, I don’t think there were many opportunities to see detail information about the two perpetrators through the media.

In fact, I happened to watch a documentary program on Fuji TV (Japan’s major TV station) just before watching this movie, and there I learned how the two perpetrators were made into “assassins”.

It was a terrifying documentary that showed how ordinary girls who just wanted to become popular can be turned into assassins.

That’s why you should never think that this globally publicized assassination drama is someone else’s problem. You and the people around you are always living in a world where your name could be reported as an “assassin”.

Why did They Become “Assassins”?

The two of them were approached by separate individuals (who were probably “North Korean operatives”) and asked, “Do you want to shoot prank videos and become famous?” This was the beginning of it all.

They were made to film various types of “prank videos”. It started with light mischief and escalated over time. I think there were pranks like “suddenly kissing people walking down the street”. In this way, while making them believe that they were shooting prank videos, they also spent months building a relationship where they were compelled to obey strange instructions and actions.

And in that flow, the two girls were made to think that the assassination of Kim Jong-nam was also a prank and they executed it. The prank was to dip their hand in the liquid and cover the face of their designated target (which the women did not know was actually a deadly poison). No one would execute such a thing just by being instructed to do so, but the women and the operatives had already been performing “strange pranks on strangers” for months. They wouldn’t have even suspected that it was a prank.

There is footage that suggests they believed it was a prank.

Crime prevention cameras captured footage of Doan Thi Huong returning to the airport two days after the assassination. She had the same hairstyle and clothes as during the assassination, so it seems she wasn’t attempting to escape. In reality, Doan was instructed by her boss (the operative) to “shoot another prank video,” and she came to the airport without suspecting anything. She was then arrested there.

Siti Aisyah was arrested while she was in a hotel room with a friend. According to her testimony, when the police officers asked her, “Where were you on the 13th?” she answered, “At the airport” without any suspicion. Then, she was asked, “How did you assassinate Kim Jong-nam?” and she was confused by the question. She didn’t know that the person they played a prank on had passed away, nor did she know that the person was Kim Jong-nam until shortly before her arrest.

In this way, there is a possibility that anyone could end up like them.

You should not feel that it doesn’t matter to me because “I won’t be fooled by the ‘let’s shoot prank videos’ approach.” The other party will vary their methods depending on various situations, such as the person’s nationality and economic situation.

In addition, to ensure the perfect success of this assassination, it was necessary to know “when and where Kim Jong-nam would be.” I think that it would have been probably the Kuala Lumpur International Airport that was the most certain. There was also a “problem of illegal immigration” regarding Kim Jong-nam, so the possibility of him coming to Japan was low, but if the plan to come to Japan was known, “Siti Aisyah from Indonesia” and “Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam” might have been “Mr. A and Mrs. B from Japan”.

I really felt that this was not just someone else’s problem. It is often said in fraud cases and the like, but we must never think “I’m okay.”

How were the Girls Judged?

Only the two perpetrators were arrested, while the North Korean operatives were allowed to escape due to the special circumstances of Malaysia. Malaysia is an unusual friendly country to North Korea, having an embassy there.

As a friendly country to North Korea, Malaysia did not want to cause a dispute. However, it is a global shame for the country that the assassination was carried out in broad daylight at its international airport. To balance “relationship with North Korea” and “prestige to the world,” Malaysia had no choice but to make the decision of “letting the agents escape” and “judging only the perpetrators.”

Well, it may seem natural, but the women were put on trial. It seems that under Malaysian law, if they were found guilty, they would automatically face the death penalty. In other words, the two who assassinated Kim Jong-nam without knowing that fact only have two options: “not guilty” or “death penalty.”

It can be said that they were in a tough situation.

It’s likely that everyone in the world understood that “North Korean operatives used these women to carry out the assassination.” While it’s true that they didn’t intend to do it, they did commit “murder” as an act, so it may be inevitable to have some form of “punishment.” However, under Malaysian law, the only punishment is “death penalty.” It would be too much harsh to give them the death penalty.

The problem at hand was Malaysia’s reputation. Malaysia acted such as that they thought that they needed to punish the perpetrators to maintain their reputation. In other words, it was the decision that they were scapegoating these women (which I believe would receive harsh criticism from the international community if it would be better to do so). It’s scary to think that a country’s judicial system could be influenced by their own motives. I can’t imagine how much these women have suffered until a resolution is reached.

Then, fortunately, they avoided the “death penalty.” However, it’s not exactly “innocent” either. In the movie, the outcome of the trial for this case was intoroducted. While it was thought that only two options existed for the conclusion, it turned out to be an unexpected settlement.

One of the lawyers in charge said it wasn’t a “perfectly happy ending,” but at least they avoided the worst-case scenario, so we can say it’s a good thing for now.

How “Kim Jong-Nam’s Assassination” was Reported

This movie also portrays the media reporting on Kim Jong-nam’s assassination.

The media in Malaysia is generally under the government’s umbrella, making it difficult to be critical of the government. In this incident, the government has taken the lead in suppressing the issue and is trying to scapegoat the two perpetrators. As a result, the media finds it challenging to report against this trend.

In the movie, a journalist from Benin News appears a few times. He is a journalist who is in a position to freely report, and questions the flow created by the government and the media that tries to make it seem like the two women are guilty.

Also in the movie is a journalist named Anna Fifield, who is the Beijing bureau chief for the Washington Post. She said about this incident, “it could be considered a perfect crime.” Kim Jong-un didn’t just eliminate his brother who could be an obstacle to stable governance. It was pointed out that he sent a message to the whole world in a very special way that “I can be cruel to the utmost”. Indeed, thinking that way helps us understand the incredible nature of the assassination by North Korea.

In this movie, there were several news clips of Kim Jong-nam when he was still alive, and all of them were from Japanese programs. It’s unclear whether Japanese media were the only ones properly following Kim Jong-nam or if there was some reason why it was easy to borrow footage from Japanese media. However, if it’s the former, it makes me realize that Japan is a country that can’t avoid being involved with “North Korea” from a global perspective.


It is unlikely that we would feel that the “assassination” reported around the world is a topic that is relevant to us. However, once we learn about the situation of the two women who became the actual perpetrators, we can realize that anyone could end up in a similar situation, whether or not they are labeled as “assassins.”

This movie reminds us that we are always living in a world where various dangers are present.

Published Kindle books(Free on Kindle Unlimited)

“The genius Einstein: An easy-to-understand book about interesting science advances that is not too simple based on his life and discoveries: Theory of Relativity, Cosmology and Quantum Theory”

“Why is “lack of imagination” called “communication skills”?: Japanese-specific”negative” communication”

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