Mongolia–North Korea relations

Mongolia–North Korea relations
Mongolia–North Korea relations
Map indicating locations of Mongolia and North Korea


North Korea

Mongolia–North Korea relations date back to 1948, when Mongolia recognised Kim Il-sung's Soviet-backed government in the North.


Mongolia provided assistance to the North during the Korean War. The two countries signed their first friendship and cooperation treaty in 1986.[1] Kim Il-sung also paid a visit to the country in 1988.[2] However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, relations became strained. The two countries nullified their earlier friendship and cooperation treaty in 1995, and in 1999, North Korea shut down their embassy in Ulan Bator on the occasion of an official visit Kim Dae-jung, the first such visit by a South Korean president.[1] At that point, Mongolia began to intensify its policy of engagement with North Korea, with the aim of improving relations.[3] In 2001, Mongolia expelled two North Korean diplomats for attempting to pass counterfeit United States one-hundred dollar bills.[4] In 2002, Paek Nam Sun became the first North Korean foreign minister to visit Mongolia in 14 years.[1] The most recent high-level visit occurred in July 2007, when Kim Yong-nam, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, made his third visit to the country; he had previously made two trips to Mongolia, in 1985 and 1988.[2]

Unofficially, North Korean visitors show significant interest in studying Mongolia's economic reforms; according to the Mongolian side, North Koreans see them as non-threatening because they are a fellow non-Western country and went through similar experiences under communism.[5] Mongolia's efforts to introduce free-market capitalism to North Korea also have a component of self-interest. The Trans-Siberian Railway, an essential link in the potential continuous rail transit route from South Korea to Europe, passes through Mongolia; North Korean economic liberalisation which allowed South Korean shipping to pass through its borders would remove the major stumbling block to such a route, providing economic benefits for Mongolia.[6]

North Korean refugees are a delicate issue between the two governments. In 2005, South Korean charity groups received from the Mongolian government an allocation of 1.3 square kilometres of land at an unspecified location 40 kilometres outside of Ulan Bator to establish a refugee camp.[7] However, as of November 2006, Miyeegombiin Enkhbold, Mongolia's prime minister, officially denied the existence of such camps. One scholar estimated that 500 North Korean refugees enter Mongolia each month, along with some legal migrant labourers who come under an inter-governmental agreement to work in light industry and infrastructure projects.[8]


  1. ^ a b c "Mongolia, N. Korea sign friendship treaty". Kyodo. 12 August 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  2. ^ a b Ch., Sumiyabazar (20 July 2007). "North Korean Kim visits Mongolia". The UB Post. Archived from the original on 2007-08-12. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  3. ^ Batchimeg, Migeddorj (March/April 2006). "Mongolia's DPRK Policy: Engaging North Korea". Asian Survey 46 (2): 275–297. doi:10.1525/as.2006.46.2.275. 
  4. ^ Foster-Carter, Aidan (16 June 2001). "Pyongyang Watch". Asia Times. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  5. ^ Pocha, Jehangir (12 December 2004). "A surprising sphere of influence: Ancient ties may be key to N. Korea". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  6. ^ Pocha, Jehangir (18 March 2005). "A softer approach to North Korea: Mongolia offers itself as a model for change". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  7. ^ Lee, Wonhee (6 September 2005). "Center Offers Haven For North Korean Defectors in Mongolia". Radio Free Asia. 
  8. ^ "Mongolia not planning camps for North Korea". Gulf Times, Qatar. 24 November 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 

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