North Korea closes multiple embassies around the world

By Reuters   November 1, 2023 | 02:09 am PT
North Korea closes multiple embassies around the world
The North Korean flag flutters at the North Korea consular office in Dandong, Liaoning province, China April 20, 2021. Picture taken April 20, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Tingshu Wang
North Korea is poised to close as many as a dozen embassies including in Spain, Hong Kong, and multiple countries in Africa, according to media reports and analysts, in a move that could see nearly 25 percent of Pyongyang's missions close worldwide.

North Korea's recent closing of its diplomatic missions was a sign that the reclusive country is struggling to make money overseas because of international sanctions, South Korea's unification ministry said on Tuesday.

On Monday, North Korean state media outlet KCNA said the country's ambassadors paid "farewell" visits to Angolan and Ugandan leaders last week, and local media in both African countries reported the shutdown of the North's embassies there.

Both Angola and Uganda have forged friendly ties with North Korea since the 1970s, 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 decades", with implications for diplomatic engagement, humanitarian work in the isolated country, as well as the ability to generate illicit revenue, wrote Chad O'Carroll, founder of the North Korea-focused website NK Pro.

More than a dozen missions may close, likely because of international sanctions, a trend of Pyongyang's disengaging globally and the probable weakening of the North Korean economy, he said in a report on Wednesday.

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