Closing embassies in at least four countries is a major change in diplomatic strategy for North Korea, and some experts believe it may signal worsening economic conditions.
Media reports have been surfacing regularly this week claiming that North Korea will soon be closing its embassies in Uganda, Angola, and Spain, as well as its consulate in Hong Kong.
Due to “changes in the international environment and the government's foreign policy,” the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Friday that “several embassies” had been dissolved.
“The effective transfer and operation of the diplomatic force of the government is part of the normal activities carried out by independent nations to promote their national interests in foreign relations,” according to a statement released on the ministry's official website.
North Korea acknowledged the opening of embassies in its announcement but gave no further details.
Increased international sanctions against North Korea have made it difficult for North Korea to raise money for its embassies in other countries, according to the Ministry of Unification of South Korea, which is responsible for dealing with relations with North Korea. Because of this, diplomatic missions had to be evacuated.
According to a government official from South Korea, this is only one of the issues that demonstrates North Korea's poor economic circumstances and makes it difficult to maintain even a tiny diplomatic contact with countries that are natural friends.
According to the Unification Ministry of South Korea, previous to the shutdown, North Korea operated embassies in a total of 53 different nations.
Media reports allege that multiple North Korean embassies have been complicit in the illegal trade of arms, narcotics, and luxury goods to bolster the cash reserves of the economically stymied regime.