This decision comes amid indications that the nation is facing economic challenges, largely due to international sanctions. Recent closures of North Korean diplomatic missions suggest the country’s struggle to generate revenue overseas. Both Angola and Uganda, which have had friendly relations with North Korea since the 1970s, confirmed the shutdown of North Korean embassies in their territories.
In a significant move, North Korea has announced the closure of as many as a dozen of its embassies, impacting nearly 25% of its global missions. This decision is seen as a reflection of the country’s economic hardships, primarily attributed to international sanctions. South Korea’s unification ministry highlighted that North Korea’s inability to earn foreign currency overseas is making it challenging to sustain its embassies.
State media outlet KCNA reported that North Korean ambassadors made “farewell” visits to leaders in Angola and Uganda last week. Both these African nations have had long-standing friendly ties with North Korea, offering military cooperation and engaging in projects that provided North Korea with foreign currency.
Chad O’Carroll, founder of NK Pro, a website focused on North Korean affairs, mentioned that this could be one of North Korea’s most significant foreign policy shifts in decades. The implications of these closures could affect diplomatic engagement, humanitarian work, and the nation’s ability to generate illicit revenue.
The unification ministry of Seoul emphasized that the closures indicate the impact of international sanctions, which aim to curb funding for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The ministry’s statement pointed out that North Korea’s economic situation might be so challenging that it’s becoming tough to maintain even minimal diplomatic relations with traditionally friendly nations.
Interestingly, North Korea’s embassy in Madrid had previously been in the news in 2019 when a group aiming to overthrow North Korean leader Kim Jong Un staged a break-in, leading to a significant diplomatic incident.