On 14 December, NK Pro reported that Ri Jong Chol was not charged for the death of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, but he is said to be part of a big sanction evading network. In 2017, police arrested a North Korean man in connection with the murder, but Ri Jong Chol was never charged with the murder. However, he is said to be one of the hundreds of North Korean agents who help their home country survive tough economic sanctions by running elaborate international networks that procure the government’s material needs. In the process, these agents abroad abuse diplomatic privileges and hide behind layers of Chinese shell companies to run transactions right under the noses of international investigators. It is said that the North Korean contacts found in Ri’s electronic devices were openly violating sanctions using shell companies opened in China’s national company register, and these contacts may still be active today. Ri mainly worked on behalf of two companies: Korea Singwang Economic and Trading Corporation and Korea Ponghwa General Trading Corporation, but he also closely coordinated with North Korean diplomats in Malaysia and had extensive relationships with North Korean collaborators, Chinese collaborators and others throughout Asia.
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