Tranquil atmosphere at N. Korean embassy belies diplomatic standoff

MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING


KUALA LUMPUR: The atmosphere outside the North Korean embassy at Jalan Batai, Bukit Damansara here remains quiet, despite the ongoing diplomatic row between North Korea and Malaysia in the wake of King Jong-nam’s assassination at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2), and the expulsion of both countries’ ambassadors.

Just a handful of vehicles bearing diplomatic license plates was seen coming and going from the embassy premises throughout the day.

North Korean counsellor Kim Yu-song, who left the premises in a black Mercedes Benz at about 11.50am before returning half-an-hour later, was reticent and unwelcoming towards reporters who attempted to interview him at the embassy gates.

Members of the media from both local and foreign agencies, especially from South Korea and Japan, have continued to camp outside the embassy. Today, many arrived as early as 9am to get the latest updates on the murder case.

On Friday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar confirmed that the man murdered at klia2 on Feb 13 is indeed Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Khalid also stated that the police may hand over Jong-nam's body to the Health Ministry for the next course of action, as none of his next-of-kin has come forward to claim his remains or aid in identification.

On March 5, Malaysia declared North Korea's ambassador, Kang Chol, persona non grata for being critical of the investigation into Jong-nam’s murder, and ordered the envoy to leave the country within 48 hours.

Following the announcement, North Korea announced a ban on all Malaysians in North Korea from leaving the country.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak responded by announcing that all North Koreans in Malaysia are also barred from the leaving the country.