160 countries have established diplomatic relations with North Korea
►▼ What exactly does "diplomatic recognition" mean?
In this context, "diplomatic recognition" means that a state has formally established diplomatic relations with the DPRK, and recognized it as a sovereign state in the international system. It does not include "de facto" recognition.
►▼ Do all countries that have recognized the DPRK have active diplomatic ties with Pyongyang?
No. Only 24 countries have embassies in Pyongyang. As of 2021, many of these embassies were vacant, as foreign diplomats left the country and were unable to be replaced due to Pyongyang's stringent border controls imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many of the countries that have diplomatic relations with the DPRK base diplomatic staff handling North Korea at their embassies in Beijing or Seoul, but the North Korean government has not always permitted non-resident ambassadors to present their credentials in Pyongyang. Additionally, some countries have established policies limiting diplomatic contact with North Korea -- Canada, for example, has implemented a "Controlled Engagement Policy" toward North Korea since 2010, strictly limiting government-to-government cooperation and communication.
►▼ Have any countries formally broken their diplomatic ties with the DPRK?
Several countries have formally suspended or severed diplomatic relations with North Korea. During the 1970s, several countries severed relations with the DPRK when their governments switched Cold War alignments. In 1980, Iraq broke off relations with the DPRK due to North Korea's arms sales to Iran, and Myanmar "de-recognized" the DPRK in 1983 following the attempted assassination of South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan in Rangoon. (DPRK-Myanmar relations were re-established in 2007.) Following the publication of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry Report on Human Rights in North Korea in 2014, Botswana terminated its diplomatic relations with the DPRK.
In 2017, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates both broke diplomatic ties with North Korea, following North Korean ICBM and thermonuclear tests. Jordan broke diplomatic ties with North Korea in early 2018. These breaks in relations also came amidst a U.S. diplomatic campaign encouraging countries to reduce their economic and diplomatic relations with North Korea, and after Mexico, Peru, Kuwait, Spain, and Italy expelled resident DPRK ambassadors and downgraded diplomatic relations.
In 2021, North Korea severed diplomatic ties with Malaysia, citing the extradition of a DPRK national to the U.S. on charges related to money laundering and sanctions evasion. The break in relations came four years after the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, in Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
►▼ Is there a formal North Korean presence in any countries with which Pyongyang does not have diplomatic ties?
Yes. There are DPRK Missions to UN offices in New York and Paris (North Korea has not established diplomatic relations with either the U.S. or France). The DPRK outpost in Paris has also served as a Trade Mission.
►▼ Timeline of DPRK establishment of diplomatic relations
|Country||Date Relations Established||Notes|
|Vietnam||1/31/1950||Established relations with DRV prior to formal independence.|
|Algeria||9/25/1958||Established relations with FLN prior to Algerian independence.|
|Mauritania||11/12/1964||Relations suspended from 1977 to 1980|
|Iraq||1968||Relations severed in 1980|
|Central African Republic||9/5/1969|
|Sri Lanka||7/15/1970||Relations suspended from 1971 to 1975|
|Chile||6/1/1972||Relations suspended in 1973, later resumed|
|Malaysia||6/30/1973||Relations severed in 2021|
|Argentina||1973||Relations severed in 1977|
|Costa Rica||2/10/1974||Relations severed in 1983|
|Jordan||7/5/1974||Relations severed in 2018|
|Botswana||12/27/1974||Relations severed in 2014|
|Australia||12/31/1974||Relations suspended from 1975 to 2000|
|Fiji||4/14/1975||Relations suspended from 1987 to 2002|
|Portugal||4/15/1975||Related severed in 2017|
|São Tomé and Principe||8/9/1975|
|Burma||1975||Relations suspended from 1983 to 2007|
|Papua New Guinea||6/1/1976|
|Grenada||5/9/1979||Relations suspended in 1985, later resumed|
|Lesotho||7/19/1980||Relations suspended in 1986, later restored|
|Mexico||9/9/1980||DPRK ambassador expelled, relations downgraded in 2017|
|Trinidad and Tobago||1/22/1986|
|Peru||12/15/1988||DPRK ambassador expelled, relations downgraded in 2017|
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines||8/16/1990|
|Antigua & Barbuda||11/27/1990|
|St. Kitts and Nevis||12/13/1991|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1/19/1996|
|Italy||1/4/2000||DPRK ambassador expelled, relations downgraded in 2017|
|Spain||2/7/2001||DPRK ambassador expelled, relations downgraded in 2017|
|Kuwait||4/4/2001||DPRK ambassador expelled, relations downgraded in 2017|
|United Arab Emirates||9/17/2007||Relations severed in 2017|