N Korea closes diplomatic missions in Bangladesh, DR Congo: reports

Pyongyang claims these shutdowns are a normal part of the business of sovereign nations.
By Taejun Kang for RFA
2023.11.29
Taipei, Taiwan
N Korea closes diplomatic missions in Bangladesh, DR Congo: reports A North Korean flag flutters on top of a 160-meter tower in North Korea's propaganda village of Gijungdong, in this picture taken from the Tae Sung freedom village near the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 24, 2018.
Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

In a further shutdown of diplomatic missions, North Korea has been closing down its embassies in Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo, media reports showed. 

As of May 2023, North Korea operated a total of 53 foreign missions, but since then, media reports have confirmed the closure of North Korean embassies and consulates in as many as a dozen locations, including those in countries Pyongyang views as longtime allies.

The North shut down its embassy in Dhaka on Nov. 20 and informed the Bangladeshi government that its embassy in India would assume responsibility for the relevant affairs, according to a Bangladeshi daily, The Daily Star, on Nov. 26.

The paper quoted a Bangladeshi foreign ministry official as saying the North’s move would not affect Bangladesh “in any way” since it does not have any notable trade relations with Pyongyang. 

The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1973. The North Korean embassy in Bangladesh consisted of four diplomats, including the ambassador. Bangladesh does not have its mission in North Korea and maintains diplomatic relations with it through the Bangladesh embassy in China.

Separately, NK News reported on Nov. 28 that the North Korean embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is “set to close” and its operations will be handled by the embassy in Ethiopia, citing a spokesman for the country’s foreign ministry.

But the spokesman said the North did not give a reason for the embassy closure.

“Tightened international sanctions on North Korea have hampered its ability to earn foreign currency, making it difficult to maintain its diplomatic missions,” an official from South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, which oversees inter-Korean relations, said in October.

“This is a glimpse of North Korea’s dire economic situation, where it is difficult to maintain even minimal diplomatic relations with traditional allies,” the ministry official said. 

But amid the speculation over its finances, a North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson said on Nov. 3 that it is in the process of “closing and opening” diplomatic missions in other countries, and this is a normal part of the business of sovereign nations.

“We will continue to take the necessary diplomatic steps in the context of the prospective development of our external relations in line with the evolving international environment,” the spokesperson said at that time. 

Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.



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