North Korea is closing nearly 25 percent of its embassies around the world amid speculation that the punishing sanctions against the Hermit Kingdom have crippled it financially.
The North Korean foreign ministry said the closures — which affects embassies in Spain, Hong Kong and various African nations — are a normal reshuffling of its regular affairs, The Guardian reported.
“In line with the changes in the international environment and the state external policy, we are either closing or newly opening diplomatic missions in other countries,” according to the ministry website. “We have also introduced such measures on several occasions in the past.”
However, South Korea‘s unification ministry said the closures are an indication that the ongoing United Nations-led sanctions have hobbled North Korea, making it a financial burden to keep the embassies open.
“This is a glimpse of North Korea’s dire economic situation, where it is difficult to maintain even minimal diplomatic relations with traditional allies,” the ministry said.
Cho Han-bum, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said the shutdowns are a clearcut sign the North Korean economy is in crisis.
“It seems economic hardship and depletion of foreign currency are the biggest reasons for the closure of embassies abroad,” Cho told The Guardian.
He predicts that North Korea will now focus its efforts on strengthening ties with its powerful longtime allies such as China and Russia.
“North Korea will bolster its so-called new cold war diplomacy by maintaining or strengthening its bases with important countries like China, Russia, Syria, Iran and Cuba, while clearing out those that are difficult and burdensome to maintain,” Cho explained.
In September, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took a rare trip outside his country to Russia, where he met with President Vladimir Putin.
BREAKING: Vladimir Putin greets Kim Jong Un during his visit to Russia pic.twitter.com/dVcSYD4Oyl
— ALX (@alx) September 13, 2023
At the summit, Kim and Putin agreed to a landmark “100-year plan” to promote North Korean-Russian relations, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
This burgeoning alliance spotlights the shifting tides of geopolitics, as an axis involving Russia, China, India, Iran and North Korea emerges amid some of the parties’ tensions with the United States.
When you look at it strictly by the numbers, North Korea only needs a few strong allies, such as China and Russia.
Even if the United States and Europe completely cut off the Hermit Kingdom, it can survive as long as it trades with China.
When all is said and done, imposing more sanctions and alienating North Korea, Russia and China will only make them cling more closely to each other and render global stability untenable.
“China’s and Russia’s estrangement from the West has increased North Korea’s utility to them,” according to The Economist. “China, which has long propped up Kim Jong Un’s pariah regime, is now likelier to view it as a nuclear-armed buffer against American troops in South Korea.
“Mr Kim, North Korea’s current dictator, is meanwhile getting chummy with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. This means North Korea can expend less energy and hard currency dealing with smaller countries such as Angola … If the regime can get cash and support elsewhere, why bother with them?”
The post Kim Jong Un Takes Drastic Measures, Hints Something Big Is Happening Inside North Korea appeared first on The Western Journal.
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