Today: 14-04-2024

Diplomatic Retrenchment: North Korea Shutters Embassies Globally in Unprecedented Move

North Korea Initiates Unprecedented Embassy Closures Amid Economic Struggles

SEOUL, Oct 31 (Reuters) — In a move signaling economic distress, North Korea is set to shutter up to twelve embassies, including those in Spain, Hong Kong, and various African nations. Reports and analysts suggest this decision could result in the closure of nearly 25 percent of Pyongyang's global diplomatic missions.

The recent closures underscore the regime's financial challenges abroad, attributed to stringent international sanctions, as noted by South Korea's unification ministry on Tuesday. North Korean state media outlet KCNA revealed that the country's ambassadors bid "farewell" to Angolan and Ugandan leaders, leading to the closure of embassies in both African nations. Angola and Uganda, longstanding allies since the 1970s, have maintained military cooperation and served as crucial sources of foreign currency, notably through projects like statue-building.

The ramifications of these embassy closures extend beyond a diplomatic reshuffle, potentially marking one of North Korea's most significant foreign policy shifts in decades. Chad O'Carroll, founder of the North Korea-focused website NK Pro, highlighted the potential impact on diplomatic engagement, humanitarian efforts within the isolated nation, and the generation of illicit revenue.

The ongoing trend of Pyongyang's global disengagement, coupled with the probable economic downturn in North Korea, is a key factor in the decision to close over a dozen missions, likely due to the weight of international sanctions. Seoul's unification ministry attributes the pullout to the impact of sanctions aimed at curbing funding for North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

With formal relations established with 159 countries, North Korea had maintained 53 diplomatic missions overseas, including consulates and representative offices. However, the withdrawal from Angola and Uganda exemplifies the country's struggle to uphold minimal diplomatic relations even with traditionally friendly nations.

As part of this diplomatic reshuffling, North Korea is also set to close its embassy in Spain, with affairs in the country to be handled by its mission in Italy, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. This move not only reflects the challenging economic situation but also underscores the regime's difficulty in maintaining diplomatic ties amid mounting international pressures.

Closure of North Korean Embassy in Spain Revealed in Correspondence with Spanish Communist Party

SEOUL, Oct 31 (Reuters) — Details surrounding the closure of North Korea's embassy in Spain have emerged through released correspondence with the Spanish Communist Party on the party's website. The letter, dated Oct. 26, officially announces the embassy's closure, shedding light on the diplomatic reshuffling initiated by North Korea.

The North Korean embassy in Madrid gained international attention in 2019 when a group, aiming to overthrow North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, carried out a daring break-in. During the incident, embassy staff were bound and gagged, and the assailants made off with computers and other devices. Pyongyang vehemently condemned the act as a "grave breach of sovereignty and terrorist attack." The North Korean government further accused the United States of insufficiently investigating the group and refusing to extradite its leader.

The incident marked a critical point of tension, and the subsequent closure of the embassy in Spain adds a new chapter to the strained diplomatic relations. The released correspondence not only confirms the shutdown but underscores the broader ramifications of North Korea's global diplomatic repositioning.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Hyunsu Yim, Soo-hyang Choi, and Josh Smith; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Ed Davies

North Korea's Diplomatic Maneuvers Amidst Tensions

The closure of North Korea's embassy in Spain, as revealed through correspondence with the Spanish Communist Party, brings forth a chapter marked by diplomatic reshuffling and international tension. The letter, dated Oct. 26, serves as an official announcement of the embassy's closure, shedding light on North Korea's strategic recalibration on the global stage.

This development follows the high-profile 2019 break-in at the North Korean embassy in Madrid, an incident that escalated into a diplomatic dispute. The assailants, seeking the overthrow of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left the embassy staff bound and gagged, triggering condemnation from Pyongyang, which labeled it a "grave breach of sovereignty and terrorist attack." Accusations were also directed at the United States for allegedly insufficiently investigating the group and refusing to extradite its leader.

The closure of the embassy in Spain not only signifies a tangible consequence of strained relations but also underscores the broader implications of North Korea's diplomatic maneuvers. With economic challenges compounded by international sanctions, these closures may represent a significant foreign policy shift for Pyongyang. As North Korea recalibrates its global engagement, the aftermath of this closure prompts questions about the future of diplomatic ties, international investigations, and the geopolitical landscape in which the reclusive nation operates.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Hyunsu Yim, Soo-hyang Choi, and Josh Smith; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Ed Davies