KUALA LUMPUR - The North Korean arrested over Kim Jong-nam's murder was not an employee of Tombo Enterprise Sdn Bhd but its business partner.
This was revealed by the company's managing director Chong Ah Kow @ Chong Ching Chee who said that he knew Ri Jong-chol, 47, since 2013.
He said he knew Jong-chol through an uncle who is a famous scientist in North Korea and another uncle who was the inventor of the mushroom polysaccharide.
Since the company was expanding, Chong decided to partner with Jong-chol and had helped him apply for a working visa.
He said they had signed a contract with Jong-chol to receive a monthly salary of RM5,000 (S$1600).
"Even so, I have never paid any salary to him, and the visa fees were paid by him.
"Before I got to know him, I have also helped several North Koreans apply for work visas," he told Kwong Wah Yit Poh.
Chong said he was in the traditional herbal medicine business, and had required mushroom polysaccharide as an ingredient, which led to him partnering with Jong-chol.
However, no successful deal was concluded in the past three years as the prices were above market value.
When asked about Jong-chol's temperament, Chong described him as a "typical North Korean" who is quiet, adding that he did not speak English.
"When we met each time, his 21-year-old daughter who studies at a local college would be present and serve as an interpreter," he said.
Chong said both of them had met five to six times in the past three years with the last meeting in January this year.
He said he was shocked by the arrest of Jong-chol.