The backfire over the assassination of Kim Jong-nam continues to grow in Malaysia, which until last week was one of the few countries willing to do business with North Korea. Police in Kuala Lampur have an APB out for the second secretary of the North Korean embassy as one of the masterminds of the plot that killed the dissipated older half-brother of dictator Kim Jong-un, and also seek one other member of the embassy staff:

Malaysian investigators want to talk with a senior North Korean diplomat in connection to the poisoning death of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The development comes as the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lampur insists no poison was used.

“The Malaysian Inspector General says authorities have added two North Korean suspects to their list — including the second secretary of North Korea’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur,” NPR’s Elise Hu reports for NPR’s Newscast unit. “He stopped short of accusing the North Korean regime of being behind the attacks, saying only that it’s clear that North Koreans were involved.”

For its part, Pyongyang insists that they had nothing to do with the murder, and neither do the two women seen on video surveillance carrying it out. Malaysian police have determined that the women used their hands to apply the poison directly to Jong-nam’s face and then quickly washed it off their hands before it could poison themselves. North Korea issued a statement calling that theory “a delusion”:

Seeking to debunk the police theory, North Korea’s embassy issued a statement Wednesday that reads in part, “the liquid they daubed for a joke is not a poison and there is another cause of death for the deceased.”

Referring to the video recording, the statement calls it a “delusion” that the women would have “daubed the poison on the victim’s face with their own hands.”

The Kuala Lampur embassy insists that the death came from some other cause than poisoning, and that the women were indeed involved in nothing more than a TV prank. They have repeatedly demanded the return of Jong-nam’s body — which is curious in itself, since he was not a resident of North Korea for almost two decades. Jong-nam had lived in Macau for most of the last 16 years, which would make China the country most concerned over the disposition of his remains.

The Independent reports that Pyongyang may have tried to “extradite” the body on their own:

Security has been increased at the morgue where the body of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half brother is being held after attempts were made made to break in, Malaysian police said.

Kim Jong-nam’s body is being held, as investigators attempt to establish what caused him to die from a seizure en route to hospital after complaining that a woman had sprayed chemicals on his face at Kuala Lumpur international airport. …

The break-ins have nonetheless fuelled speculation that North Korea played a role in his death. South Korean intelligence agencies have already accused the secretive state of assassinating Mr Kim.

Malaysia police say that the women were trained to deal with the toxins involved:

Khalid noted the two women “were warned to take precautions,” and said security camera footage showed them quickly walking to restrooms after the attack to wash their hands.

Besides the diplomat and the embassy employee, police are looking for at least five other North Koreans they believe are linked to the assassination:

Police are looking for another seven North Korean suspects in connection with the attack, including the two announced Wednesday. The embassy official and the airline employee are among three North Koreans believed to remain at large in Malaysia.

The four other are believed to have fled Kuala Lumpur shortly after the attack. Khalid said authorities believe they are back in Pyongyang, and that they provided the toxin.

Malaysia has requested their extradition, but North Korea has refused to comply. This looks like end of a beautiful strange friendship, and Pyongyang doesn’t have many of those left — perhaps not even with China, which cut off its coal imports from the peninsula after this assassination and the recent missile launches. Was it all worth it? What threat did Jong-nam pose to his brother’s regime?

According to Fox, North Korean expatriates wanted to put Jong-nam at the head of their government in exile, but he refused:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half-brother was asked to serve as the leader of a North Korean government-in-exile before he was killed last week during a daring airport assassination, The Korean Times reported.

Kim Jong Nam reportedly turned down the offer, made by North Korean defectors in the U.S. and Europe, but Kim Jong Un may have still been unnerved about the proposition, according to The Korean Times. …

Isolated North Korea has a long history of ordering killings of people it views as threats to its regime. Kim Jong Nam was not known to be seeking political power; he was best known for his penchants for drinking, gambling and expensive restaurants. But his position as eldest son of the family that has ruled North Korea since it was founded could have made him appear to be a danger.

If Jong-nam’s refusal to give up the playboy life to do something remotely worthwhile is what Jong-un considers a threat, he’s about to be the loneliest dictator in the world.