KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has ordered the North Korean ambassador to leave the country, hours after he was summoned by Wisma Putra.
Kang Chol is now declared persona non grata, and must leave the country in 48 hours.
“Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation,” Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said in a statement tonight.
Anifah said Kang Chol was expelled after he failed to answer the summon to the foreign ministry to meet with Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, the deputy secretary-general for bilateral affairs, at 6pm today.
“The ministry has, via a Diplomatic Note sent to the embassy this evening, informed the North Korean government that the Malaysian government has declared His Excellency Mr Kang Chol persona non grata.
“He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, namely 6pm.”
Anifah said it could now be revealed that during a meeting between the ministry and the high level North Korean delegation led by Kim Song, the Malaysian government had demanded a written apology from North Korea for the accusations its ambassador had levelled against Malaysia.
“The North Korean delegation was informed that if no response is received by 10pm that day, the Malaysian government would take measures that would best protect its interests.
“Almost four days have passed since the deadline has 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.”
The decision comes as ties between both countries took a blow in the wake of the murder of Kim Jong Nam, the half brother of the North Korean dictator, in Sepang on Feb 13.
The North Korean ambassador had accused Malaysia of colluding with outside powers to defame his country and that the Malaysian government had something to hide in its conduct of the investigation into the death of Jong Nam.
Pyongyang had protested the murder investigation even as Malaysian police named an embassy officer as one of the suspects.
But Anifah said recent events, including the release of North Korean Ri Jong Chol due to lack of evidence, was proof that the investigation was conducted in an impartial, fair and transparent manner.
The expulsion of the ambassador follows the Malaysian government’s announcement that effective March 6, North Koreans would be required to have visas to enter Malaysia.
“This is an indication of the government’s concern that Malaysia may have been used for illegal activities. These measures are part of the process by the Malaysian government to review its relations with North Korea,” said Anifah.