DPR-Korea New Zealand

Promoting diplomatic and cultural relations between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and New Zealand.

1990s

The post-Cold War environment and increased ROK-DPRK interaction facilitated greater dialogue. This was further encouraged by other countries re-evaluating their relations with Pyongyang, recognition that dialogue was vital in resolving Peninsula issues, and interest in exploring avenues for greater engagement. In 1993 a Whitireia Performing Arts Group staged the largest New Zealand visit to North Korea. During the mid-1990s DPRK proposals included a 60-day cultural exhibition, a traditional medicine delegation, garment manufacturing deals, along with joint business ventures such as restaurants and art galleries. A Porirua and Wonsan sister-city relationship was also advocated.

Challenges remained though. Communication was sometimes difficult with both the North and Society frankly discussing this. A senior Society member resigned in 1991 after expressing frustration with communication. They further noted the challenge of relations with the DPRK Government that ‘insist on us being a voice piece for their policies and propaganda’. Relations between a 1992 delegation and the Society were sometimes tense, while a 1996 DPRK exhibition arrived with little prior notification and did not follow advice regarding its itinerary. The Society was ‘most concerned’ that an academic could not visit in 1998. Society co-founder Reverend Don Borrie told the North that items brought by exhibition groups were unsuitable, and noted the poor financial performance of exhibitions. The North itself insisted that the Society establish an Auckland branch, and expressed concern over the level of Society activities.

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