Beijing/Kuala Lumpur – North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia has been declared persona non grata by the Foreign Ministry and asked to leave the country within 48 hours, Malaysia said in a statement Saturday.
Kang Chol has become a lightning rod for Malaysian fury in the weeks since the February 13 death of Kim Jong Nam – the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – in Kuala Lumpur’s airport.
Kang had at one point accused Malaysia of colluding with foreign powers on the investigation into the alleged murder. Much speculation into Kim’s death has focused on whether the death was the result of a conspiracy launched in Pyongyang.
Kang also said that the probe could not be trusted and had tried to point the finger of blame towards South Korea.
“Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation,” Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Haji Aman said in the statement.
North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia, Kang Chol, addresses the media outside his embassy on February. Kang was declared persona non grata in Malaysia Saturday and asked to leave the country within 48 hours, amid growing anger at allegations of North Korea’s role in the recent killing of Kim Jong Nam – the estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader – in Kuala Lumpur’s airport. Chris Jung via ZUMA Wire Photo: Chris Jung/dpa
Kim Jong Nam was killed when two women – one from Indonesia and one from Vietnam – apparently rubbed VX nerve agent on his face. He died 15-20 minutes later.
Separately, a North Korean questioned in connection with the killing accused the Malaysian government of arresting him without evidence and trying to make him confess.
Ri Jong Chol, who was released by Malaysian authorities on Friday due to insufficient evidence and deported, spoke to reporters outside the North Korean embassy in Beijing, the Yonhap news agency reported on Saturday.
Malaysian authorities attempted to make him admit his involvement in Kim’s murder using “fabricated evidence” and threats to kill his family members, Ri said.
Ri, who reportedly worked at an information technology department in Kuala Lumpur, was detained by Malaysian police on February 17. Police did not say why they had arrested him.
Police are still searching for seven North Koreans believed to be linked to the killing, including a diplomat at the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.