Isolation or integration? North Korea’s diplomatic network

The recent meeting between Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin presents an opportunity to assess the diplomatic relations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). North Korea is often incorrectly depicted as isolated on the international stage. However, the country maintains relations with a significant number of countries and possesses a substantial diplomatic network, dispelling the stereotype of a “hermit country”.

Despite being subject to a range of international sanctions, both those imposed by the United Nations Security Council and unilateral sanctions by specific states like the United States, South Korea, and groups of states such as the European Union, these measures do not inherently hinder the diplomatic relations that North Korea can establish with its partners, even though there has been mounting pressure since the mid-2010s.

Since 1990, the DPRK has held a seat at the UN and is a member of numerous international organizations. Most notably, it maintains diplomatic relations with approximately 160 states, which is over 80 percent of UN member states. Despite its limited financial resources, the country keeps a diplomatic network comprising dozens of embassies worldwide on all continents, with several dozen countries having an embassy in Pyongyang.


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