Switzerland is involved in North Korea within the framework of peace promotion and humanitarian assistance efforts. Within the framework of its good offices, Switzerland has on several occasions assumed the role of facilitator by hosting mediation meetings.
Key Aspects of Diplomatic Relations
Switzerland is present in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea through a humanitarian aid programme. In addition, it maintains regular political dialogue with North Korea.
Switzerland is also a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC), which is the legal instrument aimed at preventing hostilities on the Korean peninsula.
Diplomatic responsibility for North Korea lies with the embassy in Beijing, while the SDC cooperation office in North Korea is responsible for humanitarian aid. Since the start of the 2020 pandemic, the cooperation office's humanitarian activities have been suspended, owing to the country's lockdown.
North Korea maintains both an embassy in Bern and a permanent mission to the UN in Geneva.
Economic relations and trade between the two countries are on a modest scale. Switzerland rigorously applies UN sanctions against North Korea through the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
Cooperation in Education, Research and Innovation
North Korean researchers are eligible to apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
In 1995, the SDC implemented a humanitarian aid programme in North Korea to alleviate the suffering of the population severely affected by famine. Switzerland subsequently opened a cooperation office in Pyongyang in 1997 and for a time focused its activities on development cooperation.
Since 2012, Switzerland has been operating a strictly humanitarian programme in North Korea.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, North Korea has been in full lockdown and inaccessible to foreign personnel. SDC programmes on the ground have therefore been suspended since March 2020.
Les Suissesses et les Suisses en Corée du Nord
At the end of 2021, there was one Swiss national living in North Korea.
History of Bilateral Relations
In 1953, at the end of the Korean War, the NNSC appointed Switzerland to monitor the demarcation line between North and South Korea. This was the Swiss Armed Forces' first mission abroad. In 1974, Switzerland established diplomatic relations with North Korea.
Between 1997 and 1999, Switzerland hosted quadripartite talks between the two Koreas, China and the United States in Geneva. It also hosted three other important meetings between the United States and North Korea on the normalisation of their bilateral relations and the conditions for a resumption of the six-party talks on the denuclearisation of North Korea.