In a significant move that could see almost a quarter of its embassies worldwide shuttered, North Korea is reportedly set to close nearly a dozen embassies in various countries, including Spain, Hong Kong, and multiple African nations.
This development, driven by the reclusive nation’s economic difficulties and international sanctions, has raised concerns about its global diplomatic engagement and the ability to generate illicit revenue.
North Korea Embassy Closures
North Korea is in the process of closing about twelve of its embassies, a move that reflects the country’s economic struggles and the impact of international sanctions. Among the embassies set to close are those in Spain, Hong Kong, and various African nations.
The closures in Angola and Uganda, in particular, are a clear indicator of North Korea’s economic challenges. Both African countries have maintained friendly relations with North Korea, collaborating on projects and military cooperation. However, these ties are being severed due to financial constraints.
Diplomatic and Economic Implications
The closure of these embassies is expected to have far-reaching consequences. Chad O’Carroll, founder of NK Pro, a website focused on North Korea, suggests that this could be one of the most significant shifts in North Korea’s foreign policy in decades. The closures are primarily a result of international sanctions, which aim to cut off funding for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
Shrinking Diplomatic Presence
Until recently, North Korea had formal diplomatic relations with 159 countries and maintained 53 diplomatic missions overseas, including three consulates and three representative offices. However, with the closures of embassies in Angola and Uganda, this number is set to decline.
Additionally, North Korea is set to close its embassy in Spain, with its mission in Italy expected to handle affairs in the neighbouring country, as reported by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
This decision is notable given the previous spotlight on North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, where members of a group seeking the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un staged a break-in in 2019, leading to international tensions.
The incident prompted North Korea to denounce it as a “grave breach of sovereignty and terrorist attack,” while accusing the United States of insufficiently investigating the group and refusing to extradite its leader.
As North Korea grapples with these diplomatic closures and their implications, the international community continues to closely monitor the reclusive nation’s actions and their broader geopolitical significance.