Ministry of Unification: Closing Pyongyang's embassies is a sign of a weak economy

Ministry of Unification: Closing Pyongyang's embassies is a sign of a weak economy

The photo, provided by Yonhap News TV, shows North Korean workers who were sent abroad. (Resale and archiving prohibited)

SEOUL, Oct. 31 (Yonhap) — North Korea's recent decision to close its diplomatic missions in the country Angola And Uganda South Korea's Unification Ministry said on Tuesday that this is a clear sign of its faltering economy, which has been exacerbated by global sanctions.

This assessment came in the wake of reports published by Pyongyang's official media and African media that North Korea's ambassadors to Angola and Uganda, respectively, made “farewell” courtesy visits to the leaders of the two African countries, announcing the closure of diplomatic missions.

Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported last week that the reclusive regime is also planning to close its consulate in Hong Kong, largely due to economic difficulties.

A South Korean ministry official told reporters, on condition of anonymity, that the “massive amount” of measures appeared to show that it was no longer possible for North Korea to maintain diplomatic missions, because its efforts to obtain foreign currency had “suffered a setback.” Because of the tightening of penalties.

Instead of receiving money from Pyongyang, North Korean diplomatic missions are known to obtain money for operations, through trade and illicit business activities, and send remittances back home, according to former North Korean diplomats who defected to South Korea.

The official said these measures show how the North is struggling to maintain minimal diplomatic relations with its traditional allies due to its difficult economic situation.

As of October, North Korea operates 53 diplomatic missions, including 47 embassies, three consulates and three representative offices, out of 159 countries with which it has established diplomatic relations, according to the ministry. The number is expected to decrease to 50 if the closure of missions in Angola, Uganda and Hong Kong is completed.

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