September 25, 2023

A mystery in black and white: The curious case of North Korea’s missing pandas

China has gifted more pandas to the DPRK than any other country, but the animal ambassadors haven’t been seen for years

For decades, China has used giant pandas as a tool of diplomacy, sending the furry ambassadors that double as a national symbol to friend and foe alike in a bid to foster cultural ties and soften Beijing’s image abroad.

But while China has gifted or leased the bamboo-eating bears to countries as disparate as the U.S., U.K., Japan and South Korea, and even to its cross-strait rival Taiwan, one country has been the recipient of more pandas than any other — North Korea.