North Korean diplomats are retreating from meetings with regular foreign contacts at embassies in multiple Western countries, several informed sources told NK News on Tuesday.
In addition, scheduled visits by several Western delegations to North Korea have been canceled at the eleventh hour, while the DPRK presence at a forthcoming UN-organized meeting in Stockholm has now been retracted.
“Ever since the Hanoi summit North Korea has canceled numerous, normally routine, visits by all kinds of organizations and individuals,” said one informed source of the trend.
Furthermore, “the DPRK canceled numerous inward visits after the summit, many with comically flimsy excuses,” they continued.
“A senior American told me that the North Koreans were not picking up the telephone even on the normally reliable New York channel.”
A second source said that “everything from NGO to Track II contact is being rejected and many people are being refused meetings.”
Two additional sources confirmed the trend to have emerged in the wake of the Hanoi summit and said they understood DPRK diplomats were avoiding meetings with normal points of contact.
In addition, an NGO worker said that DPRK diplomats were being abnormally slow to respond to communications.
Keith Luse, executive director at the Washington, D.C. based National Committee on North Korea, put the retreat down to the contemporary geopolitical climate.
“It appears that North Korea is in a phase of significant reassessment regarding its standing with Washington following the Hanoi summit,” he said.
“The Track 2 process, for the most part, is on ice and North Korean officials have been unavailable to participate in other meetings with Americans.”
Despite the anecdotal information, NK News analysis of inbound visits to Pyongyang between early March — following the Hanoi summit — and May 8 shows that a steady stream of foreign delegations visited the DPRK capital, their numbers peaking in the lead-up to Kim Il Sung’s birthday on April 15, which is the norm.
These delegations ranged from Chinese People’s Liberation Army and Russian, Swiss, and Mongolian government and congressional delegations, to lower-level delegations from Vietnam and Laos and ethnic Korean visitors from China and Japan.
One U.S. delegation also arrived on April 27, DPRK state media reported, led by American neuroscience researcher Kee Park.
Furthermore, NK News understands that some other Western NGOs have recently visited the DPRK or are scheduled to visit soon, suggesting the hurdles some sources are encountering may not be constant.
“This appears to show that North Korea continues to carry out exchanges and cooperation with the outside world, and that its alleged reluctance to engage is mostly limited to DPRK diplomats overseas,” said Minyoung Lee, an analyst for NK News‘s sister site NK Pro, said.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: NK News
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