Malaysia now says only 315 North Koreans left in the country

Malaysia has lowered its estimate of how many North Koreans are in the country and barred from leaving amid a dispute over the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half brother, saying 315 remain.

Malaysia says Kim Jong Nam died after two women smeared his face with the banned VX nerve agent on Feb. 13 at Kuala Lumpur's airport, but North Korea — widely suspected to be behind the attack — rejects the findings. On Tuesday, the two countries barred each other's citizens from leaving.

A Malaysian government official earlier estimated 1,000 North Koreans were in the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told local media Sunday that 2,453 North Koreans came to Malaysia between 2014 and 2017, but that the latest record showed only 315 remained.