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30 May 2017

Who are the women accused of killing Kim Jong-nam?

Who were the women who killed Kim Jong-nam?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong-nam was murdered at the departure lounge of Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The circumstances surrounding the murder have turned it into one the world's most notorious assassinations.

In this timeline, we trace the lives of Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Vietnamese national Doan Thi Huong, 28, the two women arrested for assassinating Kim.

In context

Who were the women who killed Kim Jong-nam?
Both women worked in Kuala Lumpur's seedy underbelly


Both women worked in Kuala Lumpur's seedy underbelly

The murder has raised questions about both women, specifically, how did they come to be involved in the crime.

In the months before the crime, both women are believed to have been associated with the seedier part of Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysian police said Huong used to work at an "entertainment outlet" while Siti Aisyah worked at the Flamingo Hotel, which houses a massage parlour.


No proof that both women worked in sex industry

There are several references in the media that both women may have been involved in the sex industry during their time in Malaysia. However, there is no direct evidence to confirm this.

Malaysia's red light district, karaoke bars and massage parlours comprise of a fairly large number of sex workers who arrive from China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, who arrive on tourist visas.

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Early life

Who is Siti Aisyah?

Siti Aisyah grew up in Serang, Tangerang, two hours away from Indonesian capital Jakarta.

She was the youngest of three siblings in a poor family.

Her school teachers described her as a "quiet" and "polite girl." Her parents said she always wanted to leave Serang.

She moved to Jakarta, married a businessman and had a son with him. The couple divorced in 2012.


Was Siti Aisyah duped by criminal syndicates?

Siti Aisyah's mother said her daughter moved to Malaysia after being offered a job as a model.

Her father insists she is innocent. Several Indonesian migrant groups believe she was duped by well-connected forces.

"Her story is very similar to what has happened to many other migrants who were tricked by drug syndicates," said Anis Hisayat from Migrant Care.

Humble beginnings

Who is Doan Thi Huong?

She was raised in a village in Vietnam's Nam Dinh province, 90km from Hanoi.

Huong's father is a Vietnam war veteran who was injured in 1972. He now works as a guard in the local market while Huong's mother died in 2015.

"Huong was never close to me," her father said. "Then she left home at 18 and we rarely saw her back."


Huong worked in Hanoi's most famous bars and nightclubs

Huong went to Hanoi where she studied at a pharmaceutical college.

She transformed herself from a modest village girl to a flamboyant young woman who worked in popular nightclubs and bars in Hanoi.

She even auditioned for the Vietnam Idol competition, where her plunging neckline earned her headlines in national press.

She later worked as a promotion girl and possibly an escort.

Huong was known to date foreign men

Pictures of Huong were found in Vietnamese social media and internet forums showing her standing next to cars and in swimming pools wearing bikinis. She made numerous trips abroad with foreign clients and was known to date foreign men, mostly Koreans.

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