Malaysia has now banned North Korean citizens from leaving the country on Tuesday following a similar announcement from North Korea preventing Malaysians from leaving North Korea.
It has been three weeks since North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother was killed at Malaysia’s international airport.
State news agency KCNA earlier announced that the North has decided to “temporarily ban the exit of Malaysian citizens in the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).”
It continued that the ban will be effective “until the safety of the diplomats and citizens of the DPRK in Malaysia is fully guaranteed through the fair settlement of the case that occurred in Malaysia.”
After condemning the announcement, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak ordered a similar ban on the movement of “all North Korean citizens in Malaysia”.
There is an estimated 1,000 North Koreans in Malaysia, while the Malaysian foreign ministry has stated that 11 Malaysian nationals are currently in North Korea. Three Malaysians were reportedly embassy staff, six of them are family members and two others who work for the UN’s World Food Program.
In a press statement, the prime minister’s spokesman announced that the government is already working to resolve the issue amicably through talks.
Although Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur have previously had strong ties, the investigation on Kim Jong-Nam’s assassination via the banned VX nerve agent has resulted in an increasingly heated diplomatic row between the two nations.
Kuala Lumpur wants to further investigate the case and question several North Koreans, but Pyongyang has denounced the investigation, branding it as an attempt to smear Kim Jong Un’s government.
North Korean ambassador Kang Chol called the investigation a “pre-targeted investigation by the Malaysian police” on Monday.