Malaysia has said it will deport 50 North Koreans who are in the country with expired visas. The two countries recently announced a ban that prevent each other’s citizens from leaving their countries. Malaysia said the group of people with the expired visas were working in Sarawak, one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo.
The news were announced on Tuesday by Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. The Deputy Prime Minister said the 50 North Koreans would be deported soon. The decision to deport the 50 North Koreans was not explained but the move comes weeks after ties between the two became tense over the murder North Korean leader’s half brother at an airport in Malaysia.
Since the murder, the body of Kim Jong-nam has become the subject of a diplomatic battle between the two countries. North Korea demanded the release of the body after his murder and rejected an autopsy, which found that he was killed by a nerve agent while at the airport. North Korea has denied being involved in the murder and the two countries recently expelled their ambassadors. The Deputy Prime Minister also said the body of Kim Jong-nam had been embalmed to prevent it from decomposing. North Korea sent officials to Malaysia to claim the body but Malaysia has said it won’t release the body without DNA from his family. North Korea has rejected the autopsy from Malaysia and said his death was probably from a heart attack.
Earlier this month, Malaysia and North Korea banned each other’s citizens from leaving. The travel ban has left at least nine Malaysian citizens stranded in the country. Authorities in Malaysia estimate there are around 1,000 North Korean citizens in the country.
Malaysian authorities said yesterday that Kim Jong-nam’s family would have two to three weeks to claim the body. Kim Jong-nam was killed in Kuala Lumpur’s main airport on February 13. Malaysia has charged two women with the murder. The women have reportedly said they believed they were participating in a prank for a TV show. A third suspect was arrested but later released due to a lack of evidence. Kim Jong-nam was living in the Chinese territory of Macau.
Last week, a video of a man claiming to be the son of Kim Jong-nam surfaced on the internet. The man shows his North Korean passport and also says his family is safe in the video.