Media gather at North Korean Embassy after Pyongyang’s decision to cut ties with Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A small group of local and international media gathered in front of the North Korean Embassy located in Jalan Batai near the Royal Commonwealth Club on Friday (March 19), following news that North Korea wanted to cut ties with Malaysia.

The media personnel arrived as early as 9am, to check on the situation and whether or not there was any activity at the embassy here.

Several cars were seen leaving the embassy area but none stopped to address the media.

Videographers and photographers continued to take photos of the surroundings near the embassy gates when vehicles were seen leaving the area

It is learnt that Wisma Putra will soon issue a statement on the matter.

North Korea's state media KCNA earlier reported that it would sever diplomatic relations with Malaysia after a Kuala Lumpur court ruled earlier this month for the extradition of one of its citizens, Mun Chol-myong, to the United States to face money laundering charges.

The report stated that North Korea's foreign affairs ministry had warned that Washington would pay a price for its actions.

Mun was arrested in 2019 after the United States accused him of laundering funds through front companies and issuing fraudulent documents to support illicit shipments to North Korea.

He fought the extradition request, arguing that it was politically motivated.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry called the extradition a "nefarious act and unpardonably heavy crime" by Malaysian authorities, who had "offered our citizen as a sacrifice of the US hostile move in defiance of the acknowledged international laws".

The report said Malaysia's actions had destroyed "the entire foundation of the bilateral relations based on the respect for sovereignty".

Malaysia and North Korea were previously embroiled in a diplomatic row after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's estranged brother, Kim Jong-nam, was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang in February 2017.

The incident happened when two foreign women reportedly smeared his face with a VX nerve agent that was listed as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

Following that, Malaysia suspended operations at its embassy in Pyongyang after securing the safe return of nine citizens detained within its embassy compound, in exchange for the release of Jong-nam’s body and the release of three of its Kuala Lumpur-based diplomats.

Diplomatic relations appeared to be warming up with a reassurance from the Pakatan Harapan federal government in 2018 but it failed to fully materialise.

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