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North Korea shuts down multiple embassies, South Korea speculates financial issues are the reason

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North Korea is ending its diplomatic missions to multiple countries around the world.

South Korean observers speculate that the retirement of various North Korean diplomatic envoys shows a lack of financial resources and the increasing effectiveness of international sanctions.

“The flurry of measures appear to show that it is no longer feasible for the North to maintain diplomatic missions as their efforts to obtain foreign currency have stumbled due to strengthened sanctions,” a ministry official told Yonhap News Agency.

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North Korean embassy in Spain

A flag of North Korea waves in the wind on a post at the North Korean Embassy in Madrid, Spain. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

They continued, “They show how the North struggles to sustain the minimum diplomatic relationship with its traditional allies due to its difficult economic situation.”

Embassy closures in the African countries of Angola and Uganda were announced this month via state news outlets Rodong Sinmun and Voice of Korea.

The Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain announced the end of North Korean diplomatic missions to their country, which will be handled moving forward by Pyongyang’s embassy in Italy.

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China North Korean embassy

Chinese paramilitary police officers patrol outside the North Korean embassy in Beijing on March 28, 2018. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

The Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported last month that North Korea’s operations in Hong Kong will also be coming to a close.

Insiders have long reported that North Korean embassies in foreign countries are not financially supported by Pyongyang.

Instead, foreign missions are responsible for creating their own – often illegal – sources of income and kick money back to the regime, experts say.

Putin Kim meeting

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands before their talk in the far eastern Amur region of Russia. (AP/Korean Central News Agency)

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North Korea has seen a greater prominence in international issues as it continues to successfully court nations aligned against Western hegemony. 

Kim Jong Un and officials of his regime traveled to Moscow in September for a high-profile meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The same month, the supreme leader received a delegation from China.


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