October 03, 2023

Interview: How the UK’s first envoy in North Korea fought for internet access

James Hoare discusses the difficulty of establishing bilateral ties and why he thinks relations are unlikely to improve

North Korea has always been a difficult country to engage with diplomatically. The regime’s ideology of self-reliance means that it views foreigners with suspicion, and engagement has only become more difficult due to the DPRK’s COVID-19 border controls, with few diplomats left in the capital.

James Hoare knows more than most about the difficulties of engaging with the regime. After the U.K. decided to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea in 2000, he became the first British charge d’affaires in Pyongyang, laying the groundwork for the opening of a full embassy in 2001.