KOREA NEWS N. Korea pulls out of Senegal, Guinea in series...

N. Korea pulls out of Senegal, Guinea in series of embassy closures: official

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The North Korean flag is seen in the country’s embassy compounds in Kuala Lumpur, March 19, 2021. AFP-Yonhap

North Korea has shut down its missions in Senegal and Guinea in an apparent move to reduce spending amid economic difficulties, a South Korean foreign ministry official said Tuesday.

The latest shutdowns came after the sanctions-hit country closed its embassies in Angola, Nepal, Bangladesh, Spain and Uganda in recent months. The total number of North Korean diplomatic missions had dropped from 53 to 46 as of Tuesday, according to the official.

North Korea established diplomatic ties with Senegal and Guinea in 1972 and 1969, respectively.

The official pointed to economic difficulties from prolonged global sanctions as the biggest factor in the recent shutdowns.

The official said Hong Kong had not been added to the list yet as the withdrawal was not updated on the website of the city government. Foreign media outlets earlier reported Pyongyang has shut down its mission in Hong Kong.

Last month, North Korea said it is closing and opening new diplomatic missions “in accordance with the changed global environment and national diplomatic policy,” without elaborating.

Rather than receiving funds from Pyongyang, North Korea’s diplomatic missions are known to secure funds for operations through illicit trade and commercial activities, and send remittances to their home country, according to former North Korean diplomats who have defected to South Korea.

South Korea’s unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, assessed the recent shutdowns as an apparent sign of North Korea’s faltering economy, worsened by global sanctions over its nuclear tests and its long-range rocket launches.

North Korea has been under tightened U.N. sanctions, which call for, among other things, a ban on the country’s exports of coal and other mineral resources to cut off North Korea’s access to hard currency. (Yonhap)

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