Malaysian embassy staff in Pyongyang were seen burning documents and loading their luggage into vehicles since last night, according to China Central Television (CCTV).

The report also stated that the Malaysian and Asean flags in the embassy compound were lowered this morning, while three vehicles were spotted leaving the premises.

Yesterday, Pyongyang expelled Malaysian ambassador Mohamad Nizam Mohamad in response to Wisma Putra declaring North Korean ambassador Kang Chol to Malaysia a “persona non grata”.

Kang Chol left for Beijing yesterday evening.

This morning, Pyongyang revealed that it had imposed a temporary ban on Malaysians in North Korea from leaving the country.

In response, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysia would bar North Korean embassy officials and staff from leaving.

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Reezal Merican, when met in Parliament, said there are 11 Malaysians in North Korea, which include embassy staff and their families.

He also said that no threats have been made against the Malaysians.

On whether Putrajaya intends to shut down the embassy in Pyongyang, he said: “For that, you will need to wait for a statement by the government.”

Diplomatic ties between North Korea and Malaysia became strained following the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA 2) on Feb 13.

North Korea has accused Malaysia of colluding with other forces and even fabricating evidence with regard to the case.

Malaysia has denied these allegations.

MEANWHILE, according to The Star:

PETALING JAYA: Workers at the Malaysian Embassy in North Korea were reportedly seen burning documents and loading luggage into vehicles shortly after Pyongyang expelled Ambassador Mohamad Nizan Mohamad.

According to a Chinese media report, “emergency procedures” were initiated soon after North Korea made the announcement at around 6pm on Monday.

This came before state official media Korea Central News Agency reported that all Malaysian citizens have been banned from leaving North Korea, quoting the Foreign Ministry.

China’s CCTV 13 reported that the Jalur Gemilang and Asean flag in the embassy compound were lowered to half-mast on Tuesday morning, with three vehicles leaving the premises.

Pyongyang on Monday demanded that Mohamad Nizan, 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.

Kang Chol left on a flight on Monday evening, and is now in Beijing.

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.

Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 departure hall on Feb 13, with what Malaysian police said was VX nerve agent.

On March 1, Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong and Indonesian Siti Aisyah were charged with the murder under Section 302 of the Penal Code that carries the mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

Neither recorded a plea, and April 13 has been fixed for mention.

North Korea has criticised Malaysia’s handling of the case, with diplomatic tension escalating between the two countries.

Malaysia had recently announced that North Koreans would no longer enjoy visa-free travel to the country from March 6 onwards.