OAN’s Stephanie Stahl
11:54 AM – Wednesday, November 1, 2023
North Korea is on the verge of shutting down approximately 12 of its embassies around the world, including those in Spain, Hong Kong, and several countries in Africa.
The potential closures have prompted speculation that the country is having financial challenges due to international sanctions.
In a statement, South Korea’s unification ministry called North Korea a “reclusive country” and attributed the shutdowns to a lack of income from overseas.
On Monday, North Korean state media outlet KCNA reported that the country’s ambassadors had made “farewell” visits to the leaders of Angola and Uganda last week. Local media in both African countries also confirmed the closure of North Korean embassies.
Since the 1970s, both Angola and Uganda have maintained friendly relations with North Korea, including military cooperation and involvement in projects that provide a unique source of foreign currency, such as statue-building projects.
The closure of these embassies is setting the stage for what could potentially be one of the most significant foreign policy shifts in North Korea in decades.
This development has far-reaching implications for diplomatic engagement, humanitarian efforts within the isolated nation, and the regime’s capacity to generate revenue.
Seoul’s unification ministry supported the claim that the shutdowns are a consequence of international sanctions that have curbed funding for North Korea’s nuclear and missile initiatives.
“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,” the ministry said in a statement.
“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.”
North Korea maintains formal relations with 159 countries but had 53 diplomatic missions abroad, including three consulates and three representative offices, until its withdrawal from Angola and Uganda, as reported by the ministry.
Additionally, North Korea is set to close its embassy in Spain, with its responsibilities in the neighboring country to be handled by its mission in Italy, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
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