KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will cancel visa-free entry for North Koreans entering the country from Mar 6, state news agency Bernama reported on Thursday (Mar 2) citing the deputy prime minister.
North Koreans will be required to obtain a visa before entering Malaysia for national security reasons, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying on Bernama.
The move comes two weeks after Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was killed at the Kuala Lumpur airport with a toxic nerve agent. South Korea and U.S. say he was assassinated by agents of the North Korean regime.
Before the murder of Kim Jong Nam at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Feb 13, the two countries enjoyed relatively warm ties, with some bilateral trade and citizens of both nations entitled to travel to the other under a unique reciprocal visa-free deal.
The cancellation comes after members of the powerful ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation, held a protest outside the North Korean embassy last week and demanded Malaysia end the free visa ruling.
Two female suspects in the attack, Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, from Vietnam, were charged with murder on Wednesday.
Malaysia has arrested one North Korean and named several others as suspects.
Seoul says the government of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un ordered the killing of Kim Jong-Nam, who died after his face was rubbed with a powerful nerve agent, and engaged two outsiders to carry it out.
The spectacular killing sparked an international probe and lurid stories of Pyongyang's Cold War-style tradecraft.
North Korea, which has not acknowledged the dead man's identity, has vehemently protested the investigation, saying Malaysia is in cahoots with its enemies.
Malaysia had already recalled its envoy to Pyongyang and also summoned the North Korean ambassador to Kuala Lumpur.