Malaysia declares North Korean envoy ‘persona non grata’
KUALA LUMPUR – North Korean Ambassador Kang Chol, who has accused Malaysia of colluding with foreign powers in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, must leave the country within 48 hours.
Kang Chol, who was summoned to Wisma Putra at 6 p.m. Saturday, failed to turn up.
And in a turn of events, the ministry sent a diplomatic note to the embassy at about 9:30 p.m. to inform the North Korean government that Kang Chol had been declared persona non grata.
Kang Chol has to leave by Monday.
In a statement, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the Malaysian government had demanded a written apology from North Korea for the ambassador’s recent accusations against the country over Jong-nam’s assassination at KLIA2.
That demand, he said, was made during a meeting between Wisma Putra officials and the North Korean high-level delegation on Tuesday.
“The officials, led by deputy secretary-general for bilateral affairs Raja Nurshirwan Zainal Abidin, met the delegation headed by Kim Song on Tuesday.
“The delegation was informed that should there be no response by 10 pm that day, the Malaysian government would take measures to best protect its interest.
“Almost four days have passed.
“No apology has been made and neither has there been any indication that one is forthcoming.
“For this reason, the Ambassador has been declared persona non grata,” said Anifah.
Persona non grata, in Latin, means one who has been declared so by the receiving state and barred from entering or remaining in the country.
It is the most serious form of disapproval that the country can apply to foreign diplomats and is often used to express displeasure at the conduct or policies of the sending state.
In his statement, Anifah also gave details leading to the move.
He said he had instructed his officers to summon Kang Chol, but neither the ambassador nor the embassy’s senior officials came to Wisma Putra.
“For this reason, the ministry – via a diplomatic note sent to the embassy this evening – informed the North Korea government that His Excellency Mr Kang Chol is declared persona non grata by the Malaysian government.
“He is expected to leave Malaysia within 48 hours from the scheduled time of the meeting, which is 6 p.m. on March 4.”
Malaysia, vowed the minister, would strongly act against any insult made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation.
“It should be recalled that the ambassador has alleged that the conduct of the investigation into the death of a North Korean citizen on Feb 13 indicates that the Malaysian government had something to hide and that it colluded with outside powers to defame his country,” he said.
However, recent events, including the release of North Korean Ri Jong-chol due to the lack of evidence, was proof that the investigation was carried out in an impartial, fair and transparent manner, said Anifah.
This, he added, as “befits a country that practices the rule of law.”
Kang Chol, 64, began his diplomatic career as an assistant officer in the Middle East Department of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry.
His previous postings were in Somalia and Ethiopia and he had also served as the ministry’s director-general of administrative affairs.
Kang Chol, an alumnus of the Pyongyang University of Foreign Language (1972-73) and Somalia National University (1973-76), has two children./rga