The Federal Republic of Germany and North Korea established diplomatic relations on 1 March 2001.
The German Embassy in Pyongyang was temporarily closed on 9 March 2020 because the North Korean Government, in the course of its measures to tackle the SARS-CoV-2 virus, was not prepared to guarantee the freedom of movement of German diplomats as guaranteed by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Germany is supporting, both bilaterally and under the auspices of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, endeavours by the international community to persuade North Korea to negotiate seriously on ending its nuclear weapons programme. At the same time, Germany is endeavouring to induce North Korea to enter into dialogue with the international community on the human rights situation in the country.
In response to the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, the international community has tightened its sanctions against the country.
Germany is not active in the field of bilateral development cooperation, but provides humanitarian assistance based on need. As of May 2020, aid projects by Welthungerhilfe, the German Red Cross and Caritas Germany were receiving federal funding.
Trade between Germany and North Korea has constantly declined in recent years and is currently worth significantly less than ten million euros per year.
Cultural and education work in the country is greatly constrained by the requirement to obtain official permission for all activities as well as by prior censorship.
In the past, a number of North Korean academics were allowed to spend several months in Germany as guest researchers. These visits have been significantly reduced in recent times.
In the civic education field, the German political foundations with offices in Seoul (the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.) are also active in North Korea. Their representatives occasionally visit the country.