Shuttering of African Embassies by North Korea Reflects Economic Struggles, Says South Korean Ministry

North Korea recent closure of its diplomatic missions in Angola and Uganda signals its economic struggles abroad due to international sanctions, according to South Korea’s unification ministry. Despite longstanding friendly relations with both countries since the 1970s, characterized by military cooperation and unique income sources such as statue-building projects, North Korea’s state media outlet KCNA announced “farewell” visits by its ambassadors to Angolan and Ugandan leaders. Local media in these African nations also reported the shuttering of North Korean embassies.

The South Korean unification ministry, responsible for inter-Korean affairs, attributed this withdrawal to the impact of international sanctions aimed at curbing funding for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The ministry noted, “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.” This development reflects North Korea’s challenging economic situation, which makes it hard to sustain even minimal diplomatic relations with traditionally friendly countries.

Before closing their missions in Angola and Uganda, North Korea had formal relations with 159 countries and maintained 53 diplomatic missions overseas, including three consulates and three representative offices, according to the South Korean unification ministry. Last week, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, citing unnamed sources, reported that North Korea was planning to shut down at least 10 diplomatic missions, including a consulate in Hong Kong, primarily due to economic difficulties.

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