North Korea barred Malaysians from exiting its borders and Malaysia followed suit Tuesday, turning ordinary citizens into pawns in the diplomatic battle surrounding the investigation into the bizarre death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s half brother.
The tit-for-tat directives come as relations between the two countries disintegrate over the poisoning of Kim Jong Nam in a crowded airport terminal in Kuala Lumpur on Feb. 13.
“This is way out of normal diplomatic practice,” Lalit Mansingh, a New Delhi-based scholar and longtime top Indian diplomat, said of North Korea’s decision. He could not recall anything similar in recent years, where so many everyday citizens were pulled into a diplomatic standoff. (Read more from “North Korea, Malaysia Ban Each Other’s Citizens From Leaving” HERE)