Hardships of Diplomats in N.Korea Exposed

      November 24, 2021 12:53

      Confidential documents have cast new light on the dire existence of diplomats and NGO workers in North Korea amid crippling international sanctions.

      Foreign Policy magazine on Monday published the story based on a confidential internal document from the UN Security Council Panel of Experts.

      Startling anecdotes abound. In September 2011, then Russian ambassador to North Korea Valery Sukhinin had to haul sacks of cash from Moscow to cover his embassy's expenses and pay staff salaries because Western banks did not approve bank transactions with North Korea.

      Getting a car for the embassy was not easy either. "The vehicle had been purchased by the Russian Embassy in Beijing and driven across the border to Pyongyang," the magazine quoted Sukhinin as saying. "The entire process... took two years."

      But the situation has gotten much worse since North Korea sealed all borders and banned travel after the outbreak of coronavirus. The most famous example is the Russian diplomats who fled the crackpot country on a trolley car. "This February, Russian diplomats endured an arduous 34-hour train and bus journey to the border, where they had to finish the trip on a hand-powered pump trolley," the magazine added.

      Diplomats from Germany, Italy and the U.K. highlighted the "excessive bureaucratic constraints" imposed by the regime, the magazine wrote. "Even a routine trip to visit a humanitarian aid project requires a government escort, inhibiting the ability of diplomats to have unmonitored discussions with aid workers and locals." 

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