Human Rights

A short history of Aust-North Korea ties

A quick look back at Australia's encounters with North Korea over the years.


* 1950: Australia commits 17,000 troops to a United Nations force to defend South Korea. 340 Australians died, more than 1200 were wounded and 29 were prisoners of war. The 1953 armistice ended the war but there is still no peace treaty.

* 1974: Australia and North Korea establish diplomatic relations. North Korea sets up an embassy in Canberra.

* 1975: Australia opens an embassy in Pyongyang in April but relations are disrupted by November when North Korea withdrew its embassy from Canberra and expels Australian diplomats from its capital.

* 1993-94: All contact ceased during a nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula. But by the late 1990s it resumed with a number of unofficial and privately sponsored bilateral visits. Australia provides more than $90 million to the World Food Program to help feed starving North Koreans between 1994-2015.

* 2000: Australia resumes diplomatic ties with North Korea through the embassy in Beijing.

* 2002: North Korea reopens its embassy in Canberra but closes it again in 2008. Australia suspends direct aid to North Korea over concerns about the nuclear program.

* 2003: A North Korean cargo ship the Pong Su was caught smuggling $160 million worth of heroin into Australia. North Korea was using the proceeds of drug smuggling to prop up bare government coffers.

* 2016-2017: The Australian government condemns various North Korean missile tests, backs a tough sanctions regime and calls on China to exert influence over its past close ally.

* October 2017: North Korean Supreme People's Assembly committee warns Australia faces disaster if it continues to back American economic, military and diplomatic pressure. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull dismisses it as a anti-Trump rant.

* November 2017: Australia's foreign policy blueprint urges the "strongest possible economic and other pressure" to stop the rogue state's "dangerous behaviour".

* March 2018: Australia warns southeast Asian neighbours to redouble sanctions on North Korea during a special summit in Sydney.

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