Media reports indicate that North Korea is prepared to close most embassies across the world, which include Spain, Hong Kong, its mission in Italy, and several countries in Africa, in a move that could see nearly 25% of Pyongyang’s missions close worldwide.
South Korea’s unification ministry said on Tuesday, October 31, 2023, that North Korea’s recent closure of its diplomatic missions was a sign that the country is struggling to make money overseas because of international sanctions.
The country’s ambassadors paid farewell visits to Angolan (October 31, 2023) and Ugandan (October 23, 2023) leaders, indicating the shutdown of North Korea’s embassies there.
Angola and Uganda had moulded friendly ties with North Korea since the 1970s while maintaining military cooperation and providing rare sources of foreign currency, such as statue-building projects.
The embassy closings set the stage for what could be one of the country’s biggest foreign policy shakeups in a long time, with implications for diplomatic engagement, humanitarian work, and the ability to generate illicit revenue.
South Korea’s unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said that the pullout reflected the impact of international sanctions aimed at curbing funding for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes.
“They appear to be withdrawing as their foreign currency-earning business has stumbled due to the international community’s strengthening of sanctions, making it difficult to maintain the embassies any longer. This can be a sign of North Korea’s difficult economic situation, where it is difficult to maintain even minimal diplomatic relations with traditionally friendly countries,” the ministry said in a statement.
According to the ministry, North Korea has formal relations with 159 countries, though it had 53 diplomatic missions overseas, including three consulates and three representative offices, until it pulled out of Angola and Uganda.