Saturday, August 29, 2009

North Korean Embassy in Europe Part I

During the heydays of the Sunshine Policy before, of course, before it became widely discredited, South Korea actively encouraged Western Democratic nations to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with North Korea. When France had setup diplomatic relations with North Korea, I felt it was a no brainer. I mean to me the French have always been no different than the Russians; they just don’t want to be left out (Of course, you can go all the way back to Napoleon III, who helped unify Germany and in the process create a neighbor that is naturally larger and stronger than you). So, anyways, when I heard of that I didn’t make much of it.

But, when the United Kingdom setup diplomatic relations with the North Korean regime, in my mind it was decidedly different. With the United Kingdom holding a “special” relationship with the United States, more so at that time than any other – it was right around the time after the 9/11 attacks, I thought this meant that the Sunshine Policy was in some ways gaining traction in Western Europe. I say this to mean that Europe also thought that by engaging North Korea, in the traditional sense of the word engagement, North Korea would eventually give up its nuclear weapons program in order to join the global community of nations as a responsible member. Consider the muted reaction to the rocket launch in South Korea using a rocket built from largely Russian technology to the North Korean missile launches using rockets built using, again, largely Russian technology.

During that time, North Korea was thought to have begun to "embrace" economic reforms by letting small markets develop. North Korea has since then went back on most of these developments and it is now thought that most of these developments arose as state controls were breaking down rather than North Korea choosing to reform its economic system.

Well, if you do a quick search on the web for information on the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) embassies in London and Paris, then not much really pops up. And, considering that I was indeed in the capital of these countries, all it took was a quick search to find where the mission was and to go out there and check it out myself. What did the people there actually do? Could I actually go there and ask them questions? How accessible were these diplomats or those people representing the North Korean regime in the West?

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