KUALA LUMPUR: The North Korean embassy was sealed off so that that the authorities could physically identify all those inside the premises, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed.
The Malaysian Government has banned North Koreans from leaving the country.
This came after Pyongyang banned all Malaysian citizens from leaving North Korea, potentially holding them hostage amid an increasingly heated diplomatic row over the killing of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2) on Feb 13.
Nur Jazlan, who showed up outside the embassy here Tuesday, said the Government views the matter seriously.
"When North Korea stops our citizens from leaving their country, we view this as serious.
"We have responded to their actions but we have also done this for the safety of North Koreans in there (the embassy) because we don't want anything to happen to another North Korean in Malaysia, which will put more blame on us," he said.
He said the best move for now is to block them from going out of the embassy.
"We have done this temporarily, at least until we have done a physical identification of all those inside," he said.
Authorities believe that Hyong Kwang-song, the 44-year-old second secretary at the North Korean embassy, and Kim Uk-il, 37, an Air Koryo staff member, are still in the country.
A warrant of arrest was issued for Uk-il last week and a letter requesting Hyong's cooperation was sent through Wisma Putra and delivered to the embassy.
It is believed that the move to cordon off the embassy was to ensure that the person wanted by police in connection with Jong-nam's assassination, who is suspected to be hiding in the embassy, did not escape.
When asked what the authorities will do if they find the wanted man in the embassy, Nur Jazlan said: "That is their sovereign ground but out here is ours. We will wait for him to come out."