KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Since North Korea announced on Friday that it is severing ties with Malaysia, its embassy in Jalan Batai in Bukit Damansara has been the focal point for local and foreign media.
Reporters started converging outside the embassy as early as 7.30 am. And by 11 am today, some 40 local and international media personnel were seen waiting outside to monitor the movements there after Malaysia ordered all North Korean diplomatic staff and their dependents to leave the country within 48 hours.
Bernama’s reporter outside the embassy noted several individuals believed to be embassy staff entering the building as early as 8.15am. The embassy is said to have about 20 staff and dependents.
At about 10.20am, some medical personnel from a private hospital were seen entering the premises in a van, probably to conduct swab tests on those who will be returning to Pyongyang. According to the reporters outside the embassy, their sources had indicated that the staff and dependents will most probably leave for Pyongyang tomorrow via Beijing.
There were movements of vehicles in and out of the embassy building until the gates were closed at 12.30pm. A police patrol car with two personnel were seen outside the embassy.
The embassy was helmed by charge’d affairs Kim Yu Song. North Korea’s last ambassador to the country was Kang Chol, who was expelled in 2017 over his provocative remarks relating to the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korean Supreme leader Kim Jong-un.
Bernama’s attempt to contact Yu Song and Counsellor Song Ki Chol since Friday saw no response.
Pyongyang announced on Friday that it would sever diplomatic relations with Malaysia after a Malaysian court early this month ruled that a North Korean businessman could be extradited to the United States (US) to face money laundering charges.
Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry (Wisma Putra) said it deeply regretted North Korea’s decision and hence in turn will close the Malaysian Embassy in Pyongyang, of which the operation had already been suspended since 2017.
Wisma Putra in a statement said the Malaysian government will also issue an order for all the diplomatic staff and their dependents at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from Friday.