What was the Relationship Between North Korea and Ukraine before Severing of Diplomatic Ties? (14.7.2022)

On July 14th, 2022, North Korea announced its recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk, and North Korean Foreign Minister – Choi Son-hee – stated that “it will develop relations with the above-mentioned countries based upon the concepts of independence, peace and goodwill.” North Korea is also the second country – after Syria – to recognize the two regions. Ukraine immediately announced that it would cut diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Prior to these developments, what was the relationship between Ukraine and North Korea before the severing of ties? The two countries formally established diplomatic relations in January 1992. North Korea established an embassy in Ukraine in October 1992, but withdrew it in January 1998. Before 2017, the two countries shared certain trade relations. In 2015-2016, Ukraine’s exports to North Korea amounted to $33.7 million and $7.5 million, respectively – with the main exports being flour, grains and rapeseed – according to South Korea’s foreign ministry.

North Korea’s exports to Ukraine were US$2 million in 2015 and US$3.82 million in 2016, with the main exports being plastics, rubber and steel. After 2017, trade between the two countries was practically negligible. In 2016, Ukraine scrapped a visa-free agreement with North Korea.

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