WE ARE FINE, SAYS EMBASSY OFFICIAL SAYS EMBASSY OFFICIAL
11 Malaysians trapped in North Korea following ban
“T HANK God, we are fine here. Please pray for our safety.”
Those were the words of an official at the Malaysian embassy in Pyongyang, who are among 11 Malaysians stuck in North Korea following a ban on Malaysians leaving the country.
S. Nirmala Malar Kodi, who works at the embassy as an administrative assistant, said the Malaysians there were safe and in good condition despite the rising tension between the two countries.
She told the New Straits Times yesterday the going-ons at the embassy were like a normal working day, and that there was no ban against them leaving the embassy at the Diplomatic Enclave Munhung-dong in Taedonggang district.
“Everything is good and under control. It is a normal day for us here. We (embassy staff and families) are here (at the embassy).
“There’s no prohibition against us leaving the embassy building. It’s just that we did not go out,” she said.
When asked if there was any cordon or North Korean authorities blocking the embassy, Nirmala said “no”.
However, she declined to comment on the prohibition against Malaysians leaving North Korea, citing that she was not authorised to give official comments.
Nirmala, who is from Ipoh, said they received many calls from family and friends who were concerned about their safety since the diplomatic row started.
“Since the case happened, everybody was worried about us. But we are fine here.
“The ambassador has also called to check on us from time to time,” she said.
However, when asked if they were worried about their safety, especially when they were barred from leaving the country, Nirmala seemed hesitant to answer and could only laugh a little.
As of yesterday, there were 11 Malaysians in North Korea, including four civil servants, their five family members, and two others who work for the United Nations mission there.
According to Wisma Putra’s website, besides the ambassador, there were four other Malaysian officials who are attached to the embassy.
They include Nirmala, counsellor Mohd Nor Azrin Md Zain, second secretary Mohamad Razak Sabtu, and personal assistant to the ambassador Noor Saaidah Jamaludin.
However, it could not be determined which of the three had left Pyongyang as Nirmala, who is single, said only three of them were there.
Also at the embassy were the spouses of the other two officials, and their four children, aged between 8 months and 7.
Malaysian ambassador to North Korea Mohamad Nizan Mohamad returned to Kuala Lumpur on Feb 22 after he was recalled for consultations over the diplomatic row, which followed the murder of Kim Jongnam, the exiled half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jongun, at klia2 on Feb 13.