According to well-known Chinese news site NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES), North Korea has just announced the closure of its Consulate General in Hong Kong. The move follows the closing of North Korean embassies in many African countries such as Angola and Uganda.
It is reported that North Korea plans to close 12 of its embassies and consulates in Spain, Hong Kong and other places, accounting for nearly a quarter of its 53 diplomatic missions around the world. These closures have triggered widespread attention to changes in North Korea’s foreign policy.
North Korea has long implemented a planned economy, and the size of the country’s economy has continued to shrink. According to one estimate, closing an embassy or consulate could save the North Korean government approximately US$500,000 per year. North Korea may also believe that, given the current diplomatic environment, it does not make sense to maintain North Korean diplomatic missions in countries with which the country has less friendly or less important relations.
Although North Korea’s move will affect the relationship between China and North Korea to some extent, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that it respects North Korea’s decision. This statement from China likely creates international space for North Korea to further adjust its foreign policy. If China were to strongly oppose or criticizes North Korea, on the other hand, this would inevitably lead to a rebound in North Korean public sentiment and cause unnecessary negative impacts on relations between the two countries.
Source: NetEase, November 1, 2023