Expelled from Malaysia after the nerve agent assassination of Kim Jong-nam at Kuala Lumpur airport, North Korea's ambassador packed a television set into his luggage and flew home on Monday.
Stern-faced Kang Chol took a parting shot at his host nation as he was about to board a flight, expressing "grave concern over the extreme measures taken by the Malaysian government" which he said were "doing great harm" to relations that go back 40 years.
North Korea immediately retaliated, declaring Malaysia's ambassador in Pyongyang "persona non grata" and ordering him to leave the country within 48 hours, effective from Sunday.
The declaration prompted some diplomatic head-scratching because Malaysia's Mohamad Nizan Mohamad had already been recalled, arriving in Kuala Lumpur on February 22.
Declaring an ambassador persona non grata is one of the harshest rebukes a country can take against another, short of breaking off diplomatic relations.
Malaysian media reported that Mr Kang looked sombre as he sat down in an economy class seat on a flight to Beijing with his wife and five-year-old child.
A passenger at the departure gate yelled "get out" as police escorted him on to the plane.
Malaysia was one of a dwindling number of countries to maintain close relations with North Korea until what Malaysian police say was a plot involving at least eight North Koreans to kill 46-year-old Mr Kim, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un.
Mr Kang led stinging criticism of Malaysia over its handing of the case, including claiming Kuala Lumpur was colluding with South Korea to damage the north.
He attempted to claim the victim was not Kim Jong-nam, but still demanded that Malaysian authorities hand over the body to embassy officials before any autopsy or forensic tests were carried out.
Malaysia responded by ending visa-free status for North Koreans entering Malaysia and named a diplomat at North Korea's embassy as one of the suspects in the case.
The Football Association of Malaysia said on Monday that the government had ordered the national soccer squad not to fly to Pyongyang for an Asian Cup qualifier on March 28, citing safety reasons.
Police say two women smeared deadly VX nerve agent on Kim Jong-nam's face in the busy department of Kuala Lumpur's low cost terminal on February 13.
He became unwell and died in an ambulance.
Indonesian Siti Aisyah,25, and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong,28, claim they were duped into believing they were taking part in a television prank show, Just for Laughs.
They have been charged with murder and face execution if found guilty.
Malaysian police say four North Korean suspects flew out of Kuala Lumpur immediately after the attack.
They have identified three other North Korean suspects, two of whom are believed to be holed up in North Korea's embassy.
Another North Korean man was deported last Friday.