North Korea closes a dozen embassies around the world

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FILE PHOTO: The North Korean flag flutters at the North Korea consular office in Dandong, Liaoning province, China April 20, 2021. Picture taken April 20, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang/File Photo

North Korea is preparing to shut down roughly twelve embassies, including those in Spain, Hong Kong, and several African nations, potentially closing about a quarter of its embassies globally, as per analysts’ reports. This move shows North Korea’s financial struggles abroad due to international sanctions, as per South Korean sources.

Recently, North Korean state media reported that the country’s ambassadors bid farewell to leaders in Angola and Uganda. Local media in these African nations confirmed the closure of North Korean embassies. Angola and Uganda have had amicable relations with North Korea, engaging in military cooperation and providing unique revenue sources, such as statue-building projects.

This closure of embassies is expected to lead to a significant shift in North Korea’s foreign policy, impacting diplomatic relations, humanitarian efforts within the isolated nation, and the generation of illicit income. The reason behind this closure of over a dozen missions is likely tied to international sanctions, North Korea’s increasing global disengagement, and the apparent weakening of its economy.

Sources suggest this withdrawal is a consequence of international sanctions aimed at cutting funds for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Tahe challenges faced by North Korea are due to the strengthening of sanctions and their inability to sustain embassies, even in countries with historically friendly relations. Despite having formal relations with 159 countries, North Korea had 53 diplomatic missions overseas, including consulates and representative offices.

The announcement of the closure of the North Korean embassy in Spain and its affairs in the country will be handled by its mission in Italy, was seen in the correspondence with the Spanish Communist Party. The North Korean embassy in Madrid gained attention in 2019 after a group attempting to overthrow North Korean leader Kim Jong Un conducted a break-in, seizing computers and other devices after binding and silencing the staff. Pyongyang strongly condemned the incident as a violation of sovereignty and a terrorist attack, accusing the United States of insufficiently investigating the group and refusing to extradite its leader. Since then, the relations between Spain and North Korea were extremely tense.

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