Malaysia declares N. Korean ambassador persona non grata, gives him 48-hours to leave country

FERNANDO FONG

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has declared North Korean ambassador Kang Chol as persona non grata and he has been asked to leave the country within 48 hours, said Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

In a press statement this evening, he said the ambassador had failed to meet with the Ministry's Bilateral Affairs deputy secretary general Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, today at 6pm.

"Neither the ambassador nor senior officials of the Embassy was in a position to be present at the Ministry.

"For this reason, the Ministry has, via a Diplomatic Note sent to the Embassy this evening, informing the DPRK (Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea) government that His Excellency Mr. Kang Chol that the Malaysian government has declared him persona non grata.

"He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, namely 6pm today," said Anifah.

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

Anifah revealed that last Tuesday, officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, led by the Bilateral Affairs deputy secretary general, had met with the high level delegation from North Korea.

During the meeting, the Malaysian government demanded a written apology from North Korea for the accusations recently made against Malaysia by the DPRK ambassador.

"The DPRK 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," said Anifah.

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

Jong-nam was the subject of an assassination at the klia2 on Feb 13.

The ambassador had suggested that Malaysia was trying to "conceal something" and was colluding with hostile forces against North Korea.