In a recent announcement from the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, North Korea has decided to shutter its diplomatic missions in Senegal and Guinea, marking a continuation of embassy closures, particularly across the African continent. While Pyongyang may close over a dozen diplomatic posts, it has already withdrawn from five African nations. This strategic shift comes against the backdrop of economic challenges, underscoring the regime’s intent to alter its approach despite longstanding close ties with various African countries.
The iconic African Renaissance Monument, a grand sculpture overlooking Dakar, symbolizes the historical connections between Senegal and North Korea. Although relations between the two nations have remained limited, North Korean labor was employed in the construction of the statue and several other monuments across the African continent.
Pyongyang appears to be limiting its diplomatic presence in response to the financial burden often placed on North Korean embassies, as recounted by former diplomats. This financing approach has become increasingly untenable since UN sanctions prohibit the employment of North Koreans abroad.
Before the closures in Dakar and Conakry, North Korea had shut down its embassies in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Angola. Despite facing sanctions, North Korea has a historical legacy of supporting African independence movements and sustaining commercial exchanges with various countries.
In addition to monument construction, areas of collaboration have included arms trade, mining, and fishing. Grappling with economic hardships due to sanctions and isolation, North Korea appears to be refocusing its efforts on partnerships with Russia and China. Nevertheless, Pyongyang maintains embassies in eight African countries as it navigates these geopolitical shifts.