KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian Government has banned North Korean embassy staff and officers from leaving the country, says Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Speaking at an emergency press conference, the Home Minister said this was in response to Pyongyang temporarily banning all Malaysian citizens from leaving North Korea.
"We don't mean to do this, but it needs to be done.
"The Home Ministry has made a ruling, effective immediately, that not one staff member or officer of the (North Korean) embassy can leave the country.
"This will be made effective at all immigration exits nationwide," he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid also confirmed that the travel ban only applies to the diplomatic staff, and that regular North Korean citizens in Malaysia will be allowed to leave the country.
Immediately after his announcement, police surrounded and cordoned off the North Korean Embassy here.
Dr Ahmad Zahid added that Malaysia had not planned to retaliate against North Korea for what it has done, but it was necessary considering the fact that the latter had carried out a move that was against the norms of diplomatic relations.
"We need to take similar steps as they have manipulated the murder which happened in Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2)," he said, referring to the assassination of Kim Jong-nam on Feb 13.
"We want to share a clear message that one should not point fingers at Malaysia and look down on our sovereignty," he said, adding that North Korea had looked down at the investigation done by Malaysian authorities.
Asked on the number of Malaysians in North Korea, he said he would need to check up on it.
Dr Ahmad Zahid, also the Deputy Prime Minister, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would discuss bilateral ties with North Korea in the Cabinet meeting on Friday.