North Korea Shuts Down Embassies in Bangladesh and DR Congo

SEOUL – North Korea is reportedly closing its diplomatic missions in Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo, continuing a series of embassy shutdowns in various countries, according to foreign news reports released on Wednesday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The latest closures in Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of Congo follow North Korea's recent shutdowns of embassies in Angola, Hong Kong, Nepal, Spain, and Uganda. North Korea has stated that these closures are part of a strategy to improve diplomatic efficiency.

Last week, North Korea closed its embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and informed the government that its diplomatic affairs in the region would be managed by its embassy in India, as reported by The Daily Star, a local daily in Bangladesh. North Korea and Bangladesh established diplomatic relations in 1973, and until recently, four North Korean diplomats, including the ambassador, were stationed at the embassy in Bangladesh.

NK News, an online news outlet specializing in North Korean affairs, reported that Pyongyang is also set to shut down its embassy in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The reason for the closure was not specified, and North Korea's diplomatic mission in Ethiopia is expected to assume responsibility for affairs related to the Democratic Republic of Congo. North Korea has maintained strong ties with the African nation, primarily through arms exports and gold mining, since establishing diplomatic relations in 1964.

Earlier this month, North Korea announced plans to close and open new diplomatic missions to align with changes in the global environment and its national diplomatic policy, although specific countries affected by this plan were not disclosed.

North Korean diplomatic missions are known to generate operational funds through illicit trade and commercial activities, as well as remit funds back to their home country, according to former North Korean diplomats who have defected to South Korea. South Korea's unification ministry, responsible for inter-Korean relations, has interpreted these recent closures as indicative of North Korea's struggling economy, exacerbated by international sanctions.

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