The Federal Republic of Germany and North Korea established diplomatic relations on 1 March 2001.
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. These sanctions also have a tangible effect on bilateral relations.
Germany is not active in the field of bilateral development cooperation, but provides humanitarian assistance based on need. As of February 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. No bilateral agreements have yet been concluded on economic, financial or scientific and technological cooperation.
The North Korean side shows some interest in German culture – mainly in classical music, films and literature – and in German language instruction. Cultural and education work is, however, greatly constrained by the need to obtain official permission for all activities and 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) are also active in North Korea. Their representatives occasionally visit the country.