KL halts imports from N. Korea

Kuala Lumpur's ties with Pyongyang have deteriorated since the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February.
Kuala Lumpur's ties with Pyongyang have deteriorated since the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia, which until recently had been one of Pyongyang's closest friends, has halted all imports from North Korea, as part of global efforts to cut off funding over its nuclear and missile programmes.

Malaysia did not buy any goods from North Korea in June and July, after buying RM20.6 million (S$6.6 million) worth of goods in the first five months of the year, according to data from the Department of Statistics.

Kuala Lumpur's ties with Pyongyang have deteriorated since the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's estranged half-brother at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February. The United States and South Korea said the assassination was ordered by Mr Kim.

Kuala Lumpur last month banned its citizens from travelling to North Korea, two weeks after Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met US President Donald Trump at the White House.

Mr Trump had told reporters after the meeting last month that Mr Najib "does not do business with North Korea any longer, and we find that to be very important".

Malaysia had been a key source of revenue for the North. Citizens from both countries enjoyed visa-free travel.

Malaysia was host to hundreds of the North's workers. More importantly were operations that funnelled money to the regime. Reuters reported earlier this year that North Korea's spy agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, was running an arms operation out of Kuala Lumpur.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'KL halts imports from N. Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe