Malaysia expels North Korean ambassador in sternest possible diplomatic action amid row over Kim Jong Nam's death

North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol was expelled from Malaysia on March 4, 2017.
North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol was expelled from Malaysia on March 4, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia has expelled Pyongyang's envoy to Kuala Lumpur, in what is seen as the sternest possible diplomatic action over the alleged assassination of Mr Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said in a statement late Saturday (March 04) that Ambassador Kang Chol was summoned to his ministry this evening, but no official from the embassy presented themselves.

“For this reason, the ministry has, via a diplomatic note sent to the embassy this evening, informed the DPRK government and His Excellency Mr Kang Chol that the Malaysian government has declared him Persona Non Grata. He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, namely 6.00p.m., 4 March 2017,” the statement said.

According to Datuk Seri Anifah, in a previous meeting on Feb 28, Malaysia had demanded a written apology from North Korea over accusations by Mr Kang that Kuala Lumpur was subverting investigations into Mr Kim's Feb 13 murder as part of a political conspiracy with Pyongyang's enemies.

"The DPRK delegation was informed that if no response is received by 10.00pm that day, the Malaysian government would take measures that would best protect its interests. Almost four days have passed since the deadline lapsed. No such apology has been made, neither has there been any indication that one is forthcoming. For this reason, the Ambassador has been declared Persona Non Grata," he added.

A person declared Persona Non Grata in diplomatic terms is barred from entering or remaining in the country. It is the most serious form of disapproval that the country can apply to foreign diplomats.  

The expulsion of the North Korean ambassador comes on the heels of a decision by Kuala Lumpur to rescind visa-free travel for North Koreans into Malaysia. 

South Korea and the United States have alleged that North Korea ordered the killing of Mr Kim, who died on the way to hospital after the lethal VX nerve agent was smeared on his face just before he boarded a flight to Macau.