N Korean ambassador leaves Malaysia after expulsion

The DPRK envoy Kang Chol was expelled after criticising a Malaysian investigation into the death of a man thought to be Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. The DPRK says it will now expel Malaysia's Pyongyang envoy.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

North Korea's ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol, before his expulsion for criticism of the handling of Kim Jong-nam's death probe.

North Korea's ambassador fired a final salvo at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Monday shortly before he was expelled from the country for his criticism of the investigation into the death of a man thought to be Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un.

Kang Chol said the probe was a "pre-targeted investigation by the Malaysian police."

"They have conducted the autopsy without the consent and attendance of the DPRK (North Korea) embassy and later arrested a DPRK citizen without any clear evidence showing his involvement in the incident," Kang said at the same airport in which Kim was allegedly murdered.

Malaysian authorities say Kim Jong-nam was murdered at Kuala Lumpur's airport on February 13 by two women who smeared his face with VX nerve agent, listed by the UN as a weapon of mass destruction.

Kang was ordered to leave Malaysia over his criticism of the investigation into the killing.

TRT World spoke to journalist Zan Azlee who's been following the story from Kuala Lumpur.

DPRK retaliates as relations fray

The DPRK on Monday said it would expel Malaysia's envoy to Pyongyang within 48 hours, North Korea's KCNA news agency reported.

KCNA said the Malaysian ambassador was "persona non grata" and had been told to leave.

The move by Pyongyang appeared to be in retaliation for the expulsion of its representative in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak had earlier said the DPRK ambassador could stay if he apologised for his comments. Kang refused.

Kang said his treatment by Malaysia had damaged relations between the two countries.

Until this week Malaysia was one of the few countries that North Koreans could enter visa without a visa. But that privilege has been revoked.

Asked whether Malaysia, which recalled its ambassador to Pyongyang for consultations, would be reviewing diplomatic ties with North Korea, Najib was noncommittal.

"We will see. We'll take it one step at a time."

Malaysia also asked for an Asian Cup soccer qualifier match against North Korea to be moved to a neutral venue, as tensions escalated.

"The relationship has already been affected, it won't be the same," Deputy Foreign Minister Reezal Merican said.

The case has also cast a spotlight on North Koreans living in Malaysia, with authorities vowing to investigate North Korea-linked companies that are suspected of operating a sanctions-busting arms business in Malaysia.

Reuters reported this week that a front company run by North Korean intelligence agents ran an arms operation out of Malaysia.