North Korea has vowed to cut off diplomatic relations with Malaysia after the country decided to extradite a Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) citizen to the United States (US), said North Korea’s Foreign Ministry in a statement published by state media KCNA on Friday (19 Mar).
North Korea did not specify the name of its citizen, but earlier in March, Malaysia’s top court ruled that Mun Chol Myung – a North Korean who lives in Malaysia for over a decade – could be extradited to face money laundering charges in the US.
He was arrested in Malaysia in December 2019 following the extradition request from Washington.
Malay Mail reported that Mun denied FBI claims that he led a criminal group that violated sanctions by supplying prohibited items to North Korea and laundered funds through front companies.
Malaysia’s top court rejected his final appeal, saying that all requirements under the extradition agreement between the US and Malaysia had been met.
However, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry described the man as an “innocent citizen” and that it was “absurd and fabrication and sheer plot” to charge him of illegal money laundering, given that “he was engaged for years in the legitimate external trade activities in Singapore”.
“Not content with putting our innocent citizen in the dock by blindly currying favor with the US – the principal enemy of our state – the Malaysian authority delivered our citizen to the US in the end, thus destroying the entire foundation of the bilateral relations based on the respect for sovereignty,” it stated.
Following that, the Ministry announced “total severance” of the country’s diplomatic relations with Malaysia.
“From this very moment, the Malaysian authority will bear full responsibility for all the consequences to be incurred between the two countries,” it stated.
North Korea also warned that the US would “pay a due price”.
Malaysia had maintained good ties with North Korea for decades, until the North Korean leader’s estranged brother, Kim Jong Nam was assassinated at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February 2017.
Two women smeared his face with a banned nerve agent as he was waiting to board a flight.