Expelled N. Korean ambassador leaves embassy, heads for KLIA

NST TEAM

KUALA LUMPUR: Expelled North Korean ambassador Kang Chol left the embassy at Bukit Damansara at 3.50pm today, en route to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

The black Jaguar carrying Kang, who was seen entering the car clad in a black tuxedo, had to nudge through a horde of international reporters as it left the embassy compound.

The car is also believed to be ferrying Kang’s wife and grandchild, who are expected to leave with him via MAS flight MH360 to Beijing at 6.25pm.

Meanwhile, Kang’s belongings arrived at KLIA in advance of him at 3.13pm today.

Officials, believed to be from the embassy, checked in four big boxes labelled “DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) Pyongyang”, three luggage bags and a package containing a Philips television screen at the C17 check-in counter here.

Local and foreign press had gathered at the airport as early as 7am to catch a glimpse of the ambassador, who was expelled from the country on Saturday.

Malaysia had declared Kang 'persona non grata' and asked him to leave the country within 48 hours, the deadline for which is at 6pm today.

In diplomacy, a ‘persona non grata’ – literally meaning "an unwelcome person" – is a foreigner who is prohibited from entering or remaining in a particular country by that country's government.

Kang was expelled after failing to meet with the Ministry's Bilateral Affairs deputy secretary-general, Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, at 6pm on Saturday.

The envoy had strained the relationship between both countries after he criticised Malaysia for refusing to release the body of Kim Jong-nam, the assassinated half-brother of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un.

He had also suggested that Malaysia was trying to "conceal something" and was colluding with hostile forces against North Korea. -- Reporting by Faisal Asyraf, Hashini Kavishtri Kannan, Seri Nor Nadiah Koris and Noorsila Abd Majid