Rising tension spurs Malaysia to ban travel to North Korea

The Group B match was due to be played on October 10, having previously been scheduled for March 28 and June 8.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), said in a statement yesterday, that they have made a decision to postpone the Oct 5 match in Pyongyang after being informed by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued a travel ban on Malaysians visiting North Korea.

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

The Foreign Ministry, in a statement this morning, announced that the ban followed the tension on the Korean peninsula due to Pyonyang's nuclear guided ballistic missile programme.

The ban also covers the Malaysian soccer team's trip to Pyongyang for an Oct 5 match, deputy foreign minister Rizal Merican Naina Merican said.

Earlier, the Foreign Ministry issued a directive banning all Malaysians from travelling to North Korea.

North Korea's football team
GettyNorth Korea's football team was set to play against Malaysia

An envoy from the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur met with officials of the Malaysian squad recently, pledging to protect players and officials at the upcoming match, which has been postponed twice so far this year due to the killing of Kim Jong Nam.

Malaysia's travel ban represents just the latest move undertaken by the Southeast Asian state with respect to the escalating North Korea situation.

Hairmau Malaya who are handled by head coach Nelo Vingada was scheduled to meet North Korea on Oct 5 and Hong Kong on Oct 10.

According to AFC, the status of the Group B match would be decided by the competition committee as soon as possible.

Two women from Vietnam and Indonesia have been charged in the murder widely believed to have been orchestrated by North Korea. It is not now clear whether they will be affected by this travel ban.

  • Rogelio Becker