New Zealand–North Korea relations

New Zealand–North Korea relations
New Zealand – North Korea relations
Map indicating locations of North Korea and New Zealand

North Korea

New Zealand

New Zealand – North Korea relations refers to international relations between New Zealand and North Korea. Relations between the two countries have been almost non-existent since the division of Korea. During the Korean War in the 1950s, New Zealand troops fought as part of the United Nations force that repelled the North Korean invasion of South Korea. Since then, New Zealand and North Korea have had little contact, until July 2000 when North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun and New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Phil Goff met in Bangkok,[1] leading to the establishment of diplomatic relations in March 2001.[2] New Zealand does not have an official ambassador to North Korea; the New Zealand ambassador to South Korea also administers New Zealand-North Korean relations.[3] In 2006, North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon, drawing criticism and suspension of relations by the New Zealand government, which holds a staunch anti-nuclear policy. New Zealand began re-establishing formal relations in 2007, when the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters visited Pyongyang on November 20 to discuss possible political and economic deals with North Korea, on the basis that it start dismantling its nuclear weapons facilities.



The Korean War was an escalation of a civil war between two rival Korean regimes, each of which was supported by external powers, with each trying to topple the other through political and guerrilla tactics. After failing to strengthen their cause in the free elections held in South Korea during May 1950 and the refusal of South Korea to hold new elections per North Korean demands, the communist North Korean Army moved south on June 25, 1950 to attempt to reunite the Korean peninsula, which had been formally divided since 1948.

New Zealand was among those to respond to the UN call for help. New Zealand joined 15 other nations including Britain and the United States in the anti-communist war. But the Korean War was also significant, as it marked New Zealand's first move towards association with the United States in supporting that country's stand against communism.

New Zealand contributed six frigates, several smaller craft and a 1,044 strong volunteer force (known as K-FORCE) to the Korean War. The ships were under the command of a British flag officer and formed part of the US Navy screening force during the Battle of Inchon, performing shore raids and inland bombardment. New Zealand troops remained in Korea in significant numbers for four years after the 1951 armistice, although the last New Zealand soldiers did not leave until 1957 and a single liaison officer remained until 1971. A total of 3,794 New Zealand soldiers served in K-FORCE and 1,300 in the Navy deployment.

After some debate, on 26 July 1950, the New Zealand Government announced it would raise a volunteer military force to serve with UN forces in Korea. The government raised what was known as "Kayforce" (K-Force), a total of 1,044 men selected from among volunteers. An artillery regiment and support elements arrived later during the conflict from New Zealand. The force arrived at Pusan on New Year's Eve and on 21 January joined the British 27th Infantry Brigade. The New Zealanders immediately saw combat and spent the next two and a half years taking part in the operations which led the UN forces back to and over the 38th Parallel, recapturing Seoul in the process. A total of 33 New Zealanders were killed in action, 79 wounded and 1 soldier was taken prisoner. That prisoner was held in North Korea for eighteen months and repatriated after the armistices. A New Zealander flying with the Royal Air Force was also captured when he was shot down near P'yongyang, and was repatriated at around the same time.

2006 North Korean nuclear test

The 2006 North Korean nuclear test was the detonation of a nuclear device conducted on October 9, 2006 by North Korea. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark urged the UN to bring its full weight to bear on North Korea after it announced it had conducted the underground nuclear test. Clark condemned the test, Clark also said "it will back whatever measures the U.N. Security Council decides on". Winston Peters, the Foreign Minister of New Zealand, condemned North Korea's missile tests on behalf of his government, describing them as showing "wanton disregard" for the warnings issued beforehand by the international community. He expressed his hope that North Korea would "step back now from taking any more rash steps" and resume negotiations.[4]


There has been little or no trade between the two countries in recent years, although some exported products from New Zealand reach North Korea via China. This lack of trade from any country over UN trade sanctions on North Korea is the main contributing factor to the crippled North Korean economy.[5][6]

Official visits

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters took a trip to Pyongyang on November 20, 2007. The Foreign Affairs Minister had talks with President Kim Yong-nam in his two-day visit. Areas of in which New Zealand is looking to co-operate in could include agriculture, training and conservation. The lack of trade to the UN-sanctioned state has led to the vast poverty-stricken regions in North Korea, resulting in almost NZD$8.5 million of aid to various organizations that assist in the development of farming regions and humanitarian assistance.[6]

Other visits

In October 2005, Charlotte Glennie visited North Korea and became the first New Zealand journalist to film there officially.[7]

Karim Dickie is the Official Delegate for the Korean Friendship Association in New Zealand, an international non-profit organization with full recognition from the North Korean Government. Dickie visited North Korea for 10 days in April 2011, and will be returning in 2012. KFA NZ has a membership near 100, and runs an active website and facebook fan page.

In September of 2011, Mr. Benjamin Evans will take a team of 4 special needs students to North Korea for the 17th ITF Taekwon-Do World Championships.[8] It is the first time that a Taekwon-Do special needs team has demonstrated at an ITF world championship.[9]

See also


External links

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