February 25, 2024

How the North Korean-Vietnamese friendship turned sour

Pyongyang's self-centered behavior towards Hanoi irreparably damaged a once-close alliance

In some of my earlier NK News articles, I examined how North Korea’s relations with China, Iran, and Mongolia – three states that Pyongyang traditionally regarded as their friends and allies – have been adversely affected by factors like the countries’ divergent strategic priorities, their search for alternative partners, and Pyongyang’s domineering attitude.

Conflicts of this kind repeatedly occurred between North Korea and Vietnam, too, despite the fact that in several respects, the DPRK had more in common with the Vietnamese Communist regime than with any other country. Pure, unadulterated national egoism was the root cause of the problem, and the ham-fisted and tactless style of North Korean diplomacy often added insult to injury.