MALAYSIA said today that it will ban its citizens from traveling to North Korea due to escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula and related developments arising from missile tests.
The Malaysian football team is scheduled to face North Korea in an Asian Cup tie in Pyongyang on Oct 5, a match that been delayed twice due to security fears. North Korea recently granted a football-loving Malaysian prince access to its airspace to attend the match.
Malaysia is one of the handful of countries that still have diplomatic ties with North Korea. However, relations have been strained since the murder of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, at a Kuala Lumpur airport earlier this year.
While the case was simmering and accusations thrown in every direction, both North Korea and Malaysia temporarily banned each other’s citizens from leaving their countries in the fallout over the killing of Jong Nam
In 2009, Malaysia became the first country in the world to enjoy visa-free travel in North Korea, a privilege even neighboring China didn’t enjoy at the time. This was sweetened by North Korea’s state airline, Air Koryo, introducing routes to Malaysia a couple of years later.
After the murder in February, the Malaysian government revoked visa-free benefits for its citizens traveling to North Korea. A statement from the Foreign Ministry read that the travel ban will be “reviewed once the situation has returned to normal”.
**A version of this article was originally published on our sister website Travel Wire Asia.