(CNN)Diplomatic relations between Malaysia and North Korea are getting more strained by the day, in the wake of the brazen public murder of Kim Jong Nam.
On Monday, North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia said investigators were conspiring with “hostile forces”. In retaliation, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak described the statement as “diplomatically rude” and recalled his ambassador.
But North Korea and Malaysia weren’t especially diplomatically close even before the killing of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother.
“They had a very good relationship — I think Malaysians are just normal, friendly, and trying to maintain a working relationship with North Korea,” said Jong Kun Choi, Associate Professor of the Yonsei University Political Science and International Studies Department.
“You don’t want to call it a friendship … From the southeast Asian states’ perspective is North Korea critical? No, not really.”