North Korea is closing more embassies in Africa and South Asia – the latest in a string of diplomatic missions that have been closed recently.
The dictatorship’s embassies in Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to cease operations, according to reports.
These follow the closure of the diplomatic mission in Dhaka last week and similar announcements for more than a month.
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Closing of embassies in African countries of Angola and Uganda were also announced this month via state news agencies Rodong Sinmun and Voice of Korea.
North Korea’s presence in Hong Kong, Nepal and Spain has also receded.
South Korean observers have speculated that the retirement of various North Korean diplomatic envoys indicates a lack of financial resources and the increasing effectiveness of international sanctions.
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“The flurry of measures seems to indicate that it is no longer feasible for the North to maintain diplomatic missions as its efforts to acquire foreign currency have been stymied by the enhanced sanctions,” a ministry official told Yonhap news agency.
Insiders have long reported that North Korean embassies in foreign countries are not financially supported by Pyongyang.
Instead, foreign missions are responsible for generating their own – often illegal – sources of income and returning money to the regime, some experts say.
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Supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s regime has become significantly more entangled with its historically communist allies in recent months.
The hermit nation successfully launched a military spy satellite this month after two previous failures, with many international observers attributing the achievement to documented Russian cooperation.
Kim Jong Un met with Chinese diplomats in July, during which Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping said: “No matter how the international storm changes, safeguarding, consolidating and developing relations between China and North Korea will is always a stable political direction of the Chinese Communist Party and government.”