When North Korean ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol left Malaysia yesterday, many Malaysians breathed a sigh of relief.
But the relationship between both countries just took a turn for the worse as Pyongyang has decided to ban all Malaysian citizens from leaving the republic. This was revealed by the state media of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea today (Tuesday, 7th March).
A statement from the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), which cited the foreign ministry, said, “All Malaysian nationals in the DPRK will be temporarily prohibited from leaving the country until the incident that happened in Malaysia is properly solved.”
UPDATE (7th March, 11:53am):
In retaliation to North Korea’s decision, Malaysia has also decided to bar North Koreans nationals from leaving the country.
BREAKING: Malaysia’s deputy prime minister says North Koreans are barred from leaving country, after Pyongyang blocked Malaysians.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 7, 2017
Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced the news in a special press conference in Parliament.
“We don’t mean to do this, but it needs to be done. The Home Ministry through the immigration department has issued this order (to be implemented) with immediate effect,” he said. He added that all North Korean embassy officials and staff will be forced to stay, but regular North Korean citizens will be allowed to leave.
Police have also cordoned and surrounded the North Korean embassy.
When approached at the Parliament lobby, Deputy Foreign Minister Reezal Merican told reporters that there are currently 11 Malaysians in North Korea.
Malaysia’s ambassador to North Korea, Mohamad Nizan Mohamad, has already left the country weeks ago on 22nd February. He and his envoy were recalled to Kuala Lumpur for consultation.
After Kang was ordered expelled for his disparaging remarks on Malaysia, North Korea retaliated by denouncing the Malaysia ambassador as persona non grata (person not appreciated).