PETALING JAYA: The country's ties with North Korea have always remained stable and low-key since formal relations began on June 30, 1973. Both countries opened their embassies in the respective capitals in 2003, with Malaysians accorded the privilege to visit North Korea without a visa as part of their good ties. Over the past decade, the cooperation between both nations improved with North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Un being awarded an honorary doctorate in Economics by Help University in 2013. Travel to North Korea was further established after its government in 2011 announced that it will open an air route to the country in a bid to attract more tourists. The route under North Korea's sole airline Air Koryo between Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur was reported to be established under a chartered basis. In addition, 300 North Korean workers are reportedly employed at the Selantik coal mines in Sri Aman, Sarawak under a special agreement between the Sarawak state government and the North Korean government. Following an explosion at the mines on Nov 22, 2014, which killed four workers including a North Korean, the then-deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar reportedly said that the government had no issue with nationalities from different ideologies working in the country as long as they "have working permits, do their jobs and not spread their ideology".