Malaysia–North Korea relations
Malaysia–North Korea relations (Korean: 말레이시아–조선민주주의인민공화국 관계 ; Malay: Hubungan Malaysia–Korea Utara) refers to foreign relations between Malaysia and North Korea. Malaysia has an embassy in Pyongyang, and North Korea has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
The North Korean embassy was opened in Kuala Lumpur in 2003 along with the Malaysian embassy in Pyongyang. Relations between both countries improved and in 2009, Malaysia became the first country whose citizens were able to travel to North Korea without a visa. In 2013, the supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un received an honorary doctorate from HELP University, a Malaysian university.
Economic and cultural relations
North Korea imports refined oil, natural rubber and palm oil from Malaysia. Malaysia imports iron and steel products from North Korea. In 2017, there were 300 North Koreans working in the coal mining industry in Sarawak state of Malaysia.
In 2011, Malaysia's Bernama News Agency reported that the two countries will enhance co-operation in information-related areas. In 2017, both countries signed a memorandum of understanding in the exchange of culture.
North Korea has been working together with Malaysia's tourism sector to promote travel to North Korea. Since 2001, more than 1,000 Malaysians have visited North Korea. In 2011, North Korea opened an air route to Malaysia to attract more tourists from the country. In early January 2017, the Malaysian government had decided to stop allowing North Korean state airline Air Koryo access to the country following the implementation of recent United Nations Security Council sanctions due to pressure from the United States.
Assassination of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia
On 13 February 2017, Kim Jong-nam, Kim Jong-un's half-brother, was killed in Malaysia in a presumed assassination. This resulted in a rapid escalation of tensions.
The Malaysian authorities conducted an autopsy which resulted in opposition from North Korea. The North Korean government said that it will oppose any results of the findings, claiming that it was conducted on its citizen without their permission, and that they will take the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It also accused Malaysia of colluding with its enemies. The Malaysian side argued that any such incidents happening on a country's soil are subject to that country's laws, and stressed the need to find the cause of death and confirm the identity of the deceased. After North Korean ambassador Kang Chol's comments, he was summoned by the Malaysian Foreign affairs ministry on 20 February, while the Malaysian ambassador to North Korea had also been recalled.
Following the revelation that Kim's death was the result of the VX nerve agent, a nerve agent classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 and outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, Malaysia threatened the expulsion of the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, referring to his claims of collusion as "delusional". The North Korean government then dispatched a high-level delegation to Malaysia.
Beginning on 6 March, Malaysia cancelled the visa-free entry for North Koreans, citing "security issues" following the murder incident. On 4 March, the North Korean ambassador Kang Chol was declared a persona non grata and expelled for the next 48 hours, to which North Korea reacted in kind. North Korean authorities also reacted on 7 March by forbidding all Malaysian citizens in North Korea from entering and leaving the country. Malaysian authorities retaliated by forbidding North Korean citizens from entering and leaving Malaysia.
On 30 March, after negotiations between both sides to end their dispute, all stranded Malaysians in North Korea and North Koreans in Malaysia were allowed to return to their respective countries with a recent receipt of a letter from the deceased's family requesting the remains of Kim's be returned to his country following the completion of further autopsy.
Shortly after the deal, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that the Government of Malaysia had no intention to cut diplomatic ties with North Korea and considers the hostage crisis over, hoping that North Korea will never resort to unlawful action and going against international law again for holding up hostages.
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