Malaysian leaders double down on N. Korea

Malaysian leaders, including the prime minister, have said they will not allow North Korea to insult the sovereignty of the nation.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in condemning "insulting statements" by North Korean officials, said they should respect Malaysia's sovereignty.

"Anyone who comes here, must respect us. If they made baseless accusations, they should rightfully apologise and take back what they said. But they didn't do that, so we have taken action to declare the person as persona non grata," he said, referring to North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol.

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He added that this reflects the fact that Malaysia is strict when it comes to the nation's honour and sovereignty.

"No one can insult us or look down on us," he said when met outside the Parliament lobby on Monday.

Najib was responding to allegations by Kang, and Pyongyang itself, that Malaysia was conspiring with South Korea in relation to the death of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, on Feb 13.

Read also: North Korean embassy in KL cordoned off as ambassador prepares to leave

On March 4, Wisma Putra issued a statement declaring Kang as persona non grata (person not appreciated) and gave him 48 hours to leave the country. That deadline expires at about 6pm this evening.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said Malaysia had demanded a written apology from North Korea for the ambassador's accusations, and Kang failed to show up at Wisma Putra despite being summoned to do so.

Asked about diplomatic ties with North Korea, Najib said "one step at a time."

The Kim dynasty: North Korea's secretive rulers

  • Following a successful missile test and the murder of his half-brother in Kuala Lumpur, North Korean leader Kim Jung Un has been thrust back into the headlines. Here's a look at the hermit state's ruling dynasty.
  • Known as "The Eternal President", Kim Il Sung established the North Korean dictatorship after World War II. With the help of the Soviets who installed him, he purged political enemies and laid the foundations for the regime we see today.
  • Kim Il Sung had three children; Kim Man Il, Kim Kyung Hee and his successor Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Il ran the country after his father's death in 1994.
  • State media announced the death of "The Dear Leader" on December 19, 2011. He is thought to have had at least four female partners.
  • Kim Jong Il had an affair with actress Song Hye-rim, before marrying his first wife Kim Yong Suk (not pictured). The pair had a son, Kim Jong-nam.
  • Kim Jong-nam was raised in secrecy and tipped to take the North Korean crown after his father's death, but fell out of favor after being caught trying to travel to Disneyland. He was allegedly murdered in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 13, 2017.
  • Another one of Kim Jong Il's lovers. Ko Yong Hui was working as a dancer before becoming his partner and bore him two sons and a daughter. One of the sons is Kim Jong-Un, the country's current leader. She died in 2004.
  • The supreme leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), lLittle is known for sure about Kim Jong Un. Even his birth date is uncertain but he is believed to be around 33 years old.
  • Before taking power, he had barely been seen in public, and many of the activities of both Kim and his government remain shrouded in secrecy.
  • The oldest son of Kim Jong Il but passed over for the top job by his younger brother Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Chul was initially seen as the successor but a book written by a chef to the family suggested he was viewed as too soft for the job.
  • Mystery also surrounds Kim Yo Chong, the younger sister of Kim Yong Un. Born in 1987, she reportedly attended the International School of Berne in Switzerland.
  • The International Business Times reported that in October 2014 she possibly took over state duties for her brother while he underwent medical treatment.

As for an official apology from North Korea, he said, "Well, we are not getting anything and are not expecting anything."

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein echoed Najib's views, describing the statements issued by Kang as "rude."

"Perhaps he (Kang) sees it as his responsibility to North Korea's leadership, but we make decisions based on our sovereignty and our country's laws," he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said these accusations have affected the relationship between the two countries.

Read also: N Korea likely to retaliate on visa-free removal, experts say

"We have already said it clearly, we will wait for the next course (of action). Let us not pre-empt what is going to happen," he said.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that Malaysia would be cancelling North Korea's visa-free entry to Malaysia, citing "national security reasons."

Jong-nam was killed after two women splashed a chemical on his face at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) departure hall on Feb 13.

The two women, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah, have since been charged with the murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.