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Malaysia soon to deport about 50 North Koreans

Mar 16,2017
About 50 North Koreans in the Malaysian state of Sarawak who overstayed their visas will be deported, according to Malaysian media reports Tuesday.

They are currently being held at an immigration detention center, according to The Star, a news outlet in Malaysia. The country’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was quoted as saying North Koreans with valid visas will be permitted to stay.

A total of 315 North Koreans are said to be in the country.

The latest news comes one week after Malaysian police arrested 37 North Korean construction workers who did not have work permits and had overstayed their visas. They were nabbed during a joint operation by Malaysia’s State Immigration Department, Maritime Enforcement Agency and marine police, according to the New Straits Times, another newspaper group in Malaysia.

Sarawak’s chief minister Abang Johari Tun Openg said he was waiting for instructions from Malaysia’s government on deporting the illegal workers in view of the current diplomatic stand-off between Malaysia and North Korea, which has seen both countries banning each other’s citizens from leaving, reported The Star.

While Malaysian authorities remain quiet regarding how they were able to confirm the identity of Kim Jong-nam, The Star wrote Tuesday that it appears police were able to obtain his fingerprints from the Chinese government, which kept the data.

An unspecified source told the paper China, which provided protection to Kim and his family, kept his biometric data, as well as other countries, including Singapore and Japan.

“However, in the context of this case,” said the source, “Malaysian police have been cooperating with their counterparts in China via Interpol. More than 20 police personnel and officers from China have assisted in the process of identifying Jong-nam, as well as in other aspects.”

It took nearly a month for Malaysian police to confirm Kim’s identity last Saturday, referring to him instead as “Kim Chol” up to that point, the alias he used in his fake passport. Authorities had urged his next-of-kin to come forward for a DNA test, but no known family member followed through.

As none of Kim’s family has yet to claim the body, Malaysia’s deputy prime minister said Tuesday that the corpse was recently embalmed to better preserve it.

Subramaniam Sathasivam, Malaysia’s health minister, said Tuesday he would wait two to three weeks for a family member to claim his remains but did not mention what step the government would take if the call goes unanswered.

The North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has been pressing Malaysia to give them the body, causing bilateral relations to sour. The North has not admitted the man is their leader’s half brother.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]