What came next was a series of events which led to Malaysia cancelling visa-free entries for North Koreans. The visa-free rule will come in effect starting next Monday (6th March), and those entering the country after that will have to seek visa approvals.
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi explained that the decision was made for national security reasons. “We hope the Home Ministry and Immigration Department will do all the necessary and gazzete this on Monday,” he continued.
However, when asked if this was decided by the Cabinet, Zahid explained that he made the decision himself. He also reminded North Korean diplomats to not take advantage of Malaysia’s hospitality.
In his words, “North Korean diplomats are reminded not to humiliate Malaysia. Don’t make this country a platform for you to run your national agenda.”
According to Channel NewsAsia, the 2 countries enjoyed relatively warm ties with bilateral trades before the incident. Malaysian passport-holders are currently the only ones who can enter North Korea without a visa, and vice versa. With Malaysia revoking that right, it could be possible that North Korea will follow suit.
Kim Jong Nam was the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. A man by the name of Kim Chol, widely speculated to be Kim Jong Nam, was assassinated on 13th March. What followed was a series of high-profile disagreements, with North Korea demanding that Malaysia hand over the body of its national.
The Pyongyang ambassador to Malaysia was also summoned by Wisma Putra over his accusations that the investigation of Kim Jong Nam’s death was politically motivated. He accused Kuala Lumpur of “colluding and playing into the gallery of external forces”, insinuating that the government had “something to conceal”. This led to Malaysia recalling their ambassador to North Korea and its envoy.