North Korea has denied a visa to an Australian diplomat following a spat with the Australian foreign minister for taking issue with human rights abuses in the Stalinist country.
Bill Paterson, the Australian ambassador to South Korea, and his colleagues were refused a visa on June 23, the Australian daily reported last Saturday.
Since he assumed his post in Seoul in April last year, Paterson has concurrently served as ambassador to Pyongyang and visited the North frequently.
Australia established diplomatic relations with South Korea in 1948 and with North Korea in 1974.
Paterson applied for a visa whenever he visited the North, but this was the first time he has been refused, a staffer at the Australian Embassy in Seoul said.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on June 19 told Voice of America that Kim Jong-un is threatening neighbors and mistreating his own people and cannot claim legitimacy as a leader. She called on the regime to abandon nuclear weapons and respect its people's human rights.
In response, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said, "Australia, as a 'stooge' of the U.S., is just repeating another country's sophistry. We'll sternly punish those who insult our supreme leader."