North Korea announced on Friday that it will sever diplomatic ties with Malaysia after it extradited a Pyongyang national to the US over money laundering charges, according to a state media report.
The Seoul-based Yonhap News Agency said Mun Chol-myong, the Malaysia-based North Korean businessman, was accused of supplying prohibited luxury items from Singapore to Pyongyang and laundering funds through shell companies in violation of UN sanctions.
Last week, Malaysia's top court ruled that he can be extradited to Washington, rejecting his appeal challenging the extradition request from the US.
In the report on Friday, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) citing the Foreign Ministry, said: "On March 17, the Malaysian authority committed an unpardonable crime, in the end, of forcibly delivering the innocent citizen of the North Korea to the US by having charged him with 'criminal'.
"With regard to the grave situation that has prevailed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hereby announces total severance of the diplomatic relations with Malaysia which committed a super-large hostile act in subservience to the US pressure."
North Korea claimed that the businessman was engaged in "legitimate external trade activities" and warned that the Malaysian authority will bear full responsibility for any consequences that result between the two countries.
It also warned that the US will "pay a due price" as the "backstage manipulator and main culprit of this incident", the KCNA reported.
In the statement, the Foreign Ministry called North Korea's relations with Washington "the most hostile one on this planet".
North Korea and Malaysia had maintained close relations since the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations in 1973, but ties were strained when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, was poisoned to death at the Kuala Lumpur airport in 2017, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The two countries both expelled the ambassadors from their respective countries, while the Malaysian Embassy in Pyongyang was closed down following the incident.