NAJIB REGIME RETREATS: HIGH-PROFILE CORDON DISMANTLED, 5-YEAR STAKE-OUT CALLED OFF – N.KOREA EMBASSY STAFF NOW FREE TO MOVE IN & OUT OF MISSION

KUALA LUMPUR – Even as the rift between Putrajaya and Pyongyang continued to deepen, it was quiet at the North Korean embassy here.

North Korean counsellor Kim Yu-song continued to give the press the silent treatment as he left the embassy on Wednesday morning, only to return an hour later.

He left the embassy grounds in a Toyota Alphard driven by his translator at 11.03am. They returned in the same vehicle approximately an hour later.

Yu-song dodged the media practitioners gathered outside as he picked up a rolled-up copy of The Star from the gate, and walked into the embassy building at 12.18pm.

He was seen flipping through the pages of the daily while walking back to the building. He later left the embassy again at 2.02pm, this time in a Mercedes Benz.

Another Mercedes Benz left the embassy at 12.06pm, causing a brief ruckus when the driver reversed into equipment belonging to the media. The equipment was not damaged and the vehicle promptly took off.

Policemen, some armed, were stationed outside the embassy. However, no attempts were made to block vehicles from leaving or entering the building.

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Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said on Tuesday that the North Korean embassy was sealed off so that that the authorities could physically identify all those inside the premises.

Authorities believe that Hyong Kwang-song, the 44-year-old second secretary at the North Korean embassy, and Kim Uk-il, 37, an Air Koryo staff member, are still in the country.

A warrant of arrest was issued for Uk-il last week and a letter requesting Hyong’s cooperation was sent through Wisma Putra and delivered to the embassy.

They are suspects in the ongoing investigation into the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Jong-nam was killed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 departure hall on Feb 13, with what Malaysian police said was the banned 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.

Four other North Korean suspects, believed to have been the masterminds behind the murder, have left the country.

North Korea has criticised Malaysia’s handling of the case and on Tuesday announced its decision to temporarily ban Malaysians in North Korea from leaving the country.

A few hours after Pyongyang’s announcement, Prime Minster Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that all North Koreans in Malaysia would not be allowed to leave.

– ANN

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