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Malaysian citizens Debarred from exiting country by North Korea in a ‘Diplomatic Meltdown’

March 08, 2017


On Tuesday, North Korea barred Malaysians from leaving the country, a fitting avenge by Malaysia, as police probing the murder of Kim Jong Nam in Kuala Lumpur pursued to question three men hiding in the North Korean embassy.

Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak charged North Korea of "effectively holding our citizens hostage" and held an exigency meeting of his National Security Council.

This move emphasized the vivid deterioration in ties with one of North Korea’s few friends outside China ever since the murder of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s alienated half-brother at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on February 13.

According to the Malaysian government, the assassins used VX nerve agent, a chemical which is enlisted by the United Nations as a weapon of mass destruction.

Police have discovered eight North Koreans wanted in connection with the murder, including two of the three believed to be hiding in the embassy, a senior North Korean diplomat and a state airline employee.

The only people accused so far are a Vietnamese woman and an Indonesian woman, alleged of aspersing the victim’s face with VX. He died within 20 minutes.

North Korea’s foreign ministry declared a temporary ban on Malaysians leaving the country, "until the incident that happened in Malaysia is properly solved.”

"In this period the diplomats and citizens of Malaysia may work and live normally under the same conditions and circumstances as before."

Taken Hostage

Najib stigmatized the travel ban in a statement as an "abhorrent act" that was in "total disregard of all international law and diplomatic norms".

He stated that he had ordered the police “to prevent all North Korean citizens in Malaysia from leaving the country until we are assured of the safety and security of all Malaysians in North Korea".

Najib returned from Indonesia and conducted an emergency meeting of his National Security Council. There was no statement post the meeting, however the prime minister talked Malaysians’ worries on social media.

"I understand the feelings and concerns of the family and friends of Malaysians held in North Korea. We assure that we are doing everything we can to make sure they come back to the country safely."

International Security at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Director, Euan Graham, termed the latest events “"a classic own goal of North Korea's making", triggered "by the most outrageous public murder than you can image, using a chemical weapon in a crowded international airport.

"You'd have to go back a long way for this kind of wholesale diplomatic meltdown”

Graham further added, "Creates a more supportive climate for even tougher rounds of sanctions and coercive measures" against Pyongyang.

Prior to the murder, North Korea was banking on Malaysia as one of the strongest friends. However, Malaysia has since then stopped visa-free travel and on Monday it threw out North Korea’s ambassador for investigating the impartiality of the murder investigation.