The recent closure of North Korea’s diplomatic missions in Angola and Uganda serves as a clear indication of the reclusive nation’s economic struggles abroad, attributed to international sanctions, according to South Korea’s unification ministry.
Angola and Uganda had maintained friendly relations with North Korea since the 1970s, entailing military cooperation and unique sources of foreign currency, notably through projects like statue construction.
However, North Korea’s state media outlet, KCNA, reported that its ambassadors had conducted “farewell” visits to leaders in Angola and Uganda, and local media in both African nations confirmed the shutdown of North Korean embassies.
South Korea’s unification ministry, responsible for inter-Korean affairs, suggested that these withdrawals were a consequence of heightened international sanctions designed to hinder funding for North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The ministry issued a statement highlighting, “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 decision to close these embassies can be seen as an indicator of North Korea’s precarious economic situation, wherein it is challenging to sustain even minimal diplomatic relations with traditionally friendly nations.
Until the closure 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, as per the South Korean ministry.
Last week, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, citing unnamed sources, reported North Korea’s intention to shutter at least 10 diplomatic missions, including a consulate in Hong Kong, primarily due to economic difficulties.