North Korea Shuts Down Embassies in Angola and Uganda Amid Economic Strain

SEOUL — North Korea has closed its embassies in Angola and Uganda, signaling a further contraction of its diplomatic presence in Africa. The closures come as North Korea grapples with protracted economic difficulties exacerbated by U.N. sanctions.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Jo Pyong-chol, North Korea's top envoy to Luanda, paid a farewell visit to Angolan President Joao Lourenco last Friday. During the visit, he conveyed a message from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. This move follows a similar announcement from North Korea's Ambassador to Uganda, Jong Tong-hak, who recently confirmed during a courtesy call to Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni that North Korea would also close its embassy in Uganda.

The Angolan newspaper Jornal de Angola reported on Wednesday that North Korea unilaterally decided to close its diplomatic mission in Luanda. The two nations have had diplomatic relations since 1975, with North Korea reopening its embassy in Angola in 2013 after closing it in 1998 for undisclosed reasons.

In addition to diplomatic ties, the two countries have shared economic interests. Angola was among the African nations where North Korea had dispatched workers to earn dollars. The North has also exported large socialist-style statues to Angola and other African countries, such as Senegal, to earn hard currency.

However, Angola terminated all its contracts with Mansudae Angola, a North Korean construction firm, in November 2017. The move was in compliance with U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang, according to a report submitted to the U.N. Security Council sanctions committee.

Recent developments at the U.N. General Assembly also reflect international disapproval of North Korea's activities. During a session of the First Committee of the U.N. General Assembly held last Friday, both Uganda and Angola voted in favor of a resolution condemning North Korea's six nuclear tests.

In related news, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun reported last week that North Korea is planning to shut down its consulate in Hong Kong, primarily due to economic challenges.

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