SOUTH and North Koreans living in Malaysia hope that the death of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will not worsen the tension between both countries.
But only a few openly talked about it.
The news came as a shock to all in the country after it made headlines in the dailies nationwide.
It was reported that Jong-nam was believed to be attacked by two women operatives who splashed his face with an unidentified liquid chemical at KLIA2 departure hall at about 9am Monday.
The victim experienced a mild seizure and was taken to the Putrajaya Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Datuk Bryce Kwon, former president of the Korean Association in Malaysia, first got to know of the incident through a South Korean online news portal and from concerned family and friends back in South Korea.
“South Korean news is very accessible online.
“The Korean Association in Malaysia was having the Lunar New Year celebration on Feb 14 and we were shocked to see the news on TV.
“We did not even know he (Jong-nam) was here.
“Reporters from South Korea contacted us but I told them that it was quiet here,” he said.
Kwon added that Jong-nam’s death was a sad and bad news.
“We want peace. Suddenly this happens.
“Malaysia is a peaceful and stable country.
“I am not worried. My family and friends are worried for us though.
“I am just worried that this may be politicised and anything that happens in North Korea, South Korea too will be affected.”
When asked about North Koreans in Malaysia, he said, “We have no chance nor reason to see them.
“I do not think they want to see us too.”
Kwon said there were about 15,000 South Koreans living in Malaysia.
Former vice-president of the Korean Association in Malaysia Yoon Kum Ju was shocked to hear the news.
“I read The Star this morning, what is reported is quite true,” she said, concerned that the tension between both countries would increase.
She also expressed concern that the political situation in her country was messy after the impeachment of the South Korean president.
“Even though I am married to a British and we live in Malaysia, I am still concerned as I have family and friends there,” she said.
Alex Hwang, the National Unification Advisory Council (Malaysia) chairman and former president of the Korean Association in Malaysia (Kwon’s successor) said he was extremely disturbed by the incident.
The 66-year-old has been living in Malaysia for 30 years.
“We dislike that the incident happened in Malaysia.
“We are far away from our home country and yet this happened here.
He added that he hoped the Malaysian government would talk to North Korea about the incident.
Juma press photojournalist Christ Jung, who had been in Malaysia for seven years, said he had camped outside Putrajaya Hospital until early yesterday morning.
Many international press were already around at the time, he added.
“This is definitely bad news for all Koreans, especially when the South and North Korean governments have a strained relationship,” Jung said.
He, however, said although the attack happened on Malaysian soil, he did not think that the security of the country and its people would be compromised.
StarMetro took to the streets to find out public views and reactions.
Following the unexpected news, the well-known Korean town in Ampang, also known as K. Street was all but deserted yesterday.
There were no big ceremonies in memorial of Jong-nam's passing.
Instead, most shops were operating as usual while members of both North and South Korean communities seemed indifferent about the matter.
When asked their views, some looked uncomfortable, others refused to comment, while some were unaware of the situation.
Several who were approached by StarMetro claimed that they could not speak English but later were overheard conversing to others in the language.
An employee from a North Korean restaurant in Imbi, Kuala Lumpur, who has lived in Malaysia for three years, hesitantly gave her views on the situation.
She did not want to give her name and repeatedly said Jong-nam had never visited the restaurant.
“We feel sad. In North Korea we are one family.
“When we heard of his death we were all shocked,” she said.