The reclusive country of North Korea has confirmed a severing of diplomatic ties with Malaysia after its one-time ally agreed to extradite a North Korean citizen to the US. According to the Bangkok Post, Pyongyang has described the extradition as an “unpardonable crime”, accusing Malaysia of responding to US pressure with blind obedience.
The country’s foreign ministry has announced that all ties with Malaysia have been cut, insisting the North Korean citizen facing extradition was carrying out legal trading activities in Singapore. Following a hearing at Malaysia’s top court on March 9, Mun Chol Myong lost his final appeal against extradition to the US. He denies charges of money laundering, conspiring to launder money, and supplying prohibited items to North Korea.
In the past, a number of businesses in Singapore have been accused of sending items such as expensive liquor and watches to the country, thereby violating sanctions imposed on Pyongyang as a result of its nuclear weapons programmes.
North Korea and Malaysia enjoyed a close relationship until the assassination of the North Korean leader’s half-brother at Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017. Kim Jong Un’s estranged relative, Kim Jong Nam, was killed as he waited to board a flight. An Indonesian woman and a Vietnamese woman were arrested after rubbing a banned nerve agent in Kim’s face. However, murder charges against them were dropped in 2019, with their lawyers arguing that they were merely pawns hired by a group of North Koreans. After hiring and training the women, the men fled Malaysia shortly after Kim’s assassination.
The murder of Kim Jong Nam, widely thought to have been ordered by his half-brother, led to a distinct frostiness in relations between Malaysia and North Korea, with reciprocal visa-free travel pacts cancelled and North Korean coal mine workers in Borneo sent home. It looked like the situation was improving when Malaysia recently announced the re-opening of its embassy in Pyongyang, but the latest developments mean relations are on a downhill trajectory once more.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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