Malaysia bans travel to North Korea due to escalating tensions; Asian Cup match affected

Malaysia said on Thursday that all its citizens are banned from travelling to North Korea until further notice due to escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula as a result of Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear development.

Malaysia is one of the handful of countries that still have friendly diplomatic ties with North Korea, but relations strained earlier this year after the murder of Kim Jong Un’s half brother at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The travel ban will be reviewed once the situation has returned to normal, the Malaysian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Malaysia’s ban on travel to North Korea presents a new hurdle for an Asian Cup football qualifying match between the two countries that has already been postponed twice this year over security fears.

The ban applies to Malaysia’s national team, which is scheduled to travel to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang for the match on Oct. 5, said Deputy Foreign Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

“The travel ban covers all Malaysians, and as Malaysians, the Malaysian national football team is included too,” Reezal told Reuters.