Yesterday (Thursday, 28th September), the Foreign Ministry officially announced that a new travel ban has been imposed on Malaysians, preventing citizens from travelling to North Korea.
This fresh restriction may not come as a surprise to many. Still, as The Diplomat writer Prashanth Parameswaran expressed, it is still important for Malaysians to understand the broader context of the deteriorating relationship between Malaysia and North Korea.
North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes have been largely condemned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over the past few years. The meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in Washington, D.C. earlier this month has also led to halting of business between Malaysia and Pyongyang. For example, there were already reports in June that Malaysia had sent back existing North Korean workers and stopped issuing new work permits.
This comes after the death of Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother Kim Jong-nam, that happened in Kuala Lumpur earlier this year. Malaysia’s new travel ban is the latest move in response to the escalating North Korea situation. In view of the restriction, Malaysia’s Asian Football Confederation also stated that the AFC Asian Cup qualifying match against North Korea, which was supposed to take place in Pyongyang on 5th October, has been postponed.
Judging from the current situation, it appears that we’ll be seeing tougher enforcements moving forward.