KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 11 Malaysians are stranded in Pyongyang, North Korea, says Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican.
This came after Pyongyang banned all Malaysian citizens from leaving North Korea, potentially holding them hostage amid an increasingly heated diplomatic row over the killing of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA2) on Feb 13.
Reezal told reporters in Parliament that the 11 include three embassy staff and their families.
“They were asked to leave immediately by Malaysia but were stopped and are now stranded.
“As of now, there is no threat to their lives. Their safety is being monitored by the protocol division of North Korea.
“The ambassador and his wife are back. They came back two weeks ago,” he said on Tuesday.
On the next course of action, Reezal said the Foreign Ministry would be providing an update soon.
In response to Pyongyang’s move, the Malaysian Government has banned North Korean embassy staff and officers from leaving the country.
Pyongyang demanded on Monday that Malaysian Ambassador to North Korea Mohamad Nizan Mohamad, who had already returned to Malaysia on Feb 22, leave the country within 48 hours from 10am on Sunday.
The move was made in retaliation to North Korean Ambassador to Malaysia Kang Chol being declared persona non grata on March 4 and given 48 hours to leave the country after he failed to appear when summoned by Wisma Putra.
The ambassador had accused Malaysia of “colluding and playing into the gallery of external forces” in its probe into the death of Kim Jong-nam.
Kang Chol left on a flight on Monday evening.