Tokyo: In a recent move, North Korea has given great importance to the UN. To pay close attention to North Korean diplomacy is to notice the ways in which it upends the custom of the isolated, nuclear-armed wildcard of Northeast Asia. Yes, the country's publication services are likely to rhetoric meant to convey a sense of towering fury, mostly for domestic consumption. But before the coronavirus outbreak sealed its borders, North Korea's state media reported on a steady stream of select foreign diplomats, academics, journalists and delegations trooping up to the capital, Pyongyang.
Along with widespread offices throughout the world, it also has a permanent mission at the United Nations in New York, where one of its diplomats will dutifully if virtually, join other world leaders speaking at the annual UN General Assembly. The United Nations makes a point of welcoming all nations, regardless of political persuasion. But in many ways, there's a love-hate relationship between the North Korea and the UN.
One important thing the North gets from the UN is a direct point of contact with the 192 other member nations, including a host of countries that would be loath to send their diplomats to pay homage in Pyongyang the US pre-eminent among them. The two nations don't have formal diplomatic ties, and Washington relies on Sweden as its consular proxy in Pyongyang. This means the North's UN mission in New York is something of a substitute for an official embassy in Washington. When one side needs quick contact with the other, they often use the so-called New York channel at the UN.