North Korea owes millions to Poland, Czech Republic

North Korea did not repay $2.6 million in debt to the Czech Republic for 30 years, and neighboring Poland struggled with obtaining payments from the Kim Jong Un regime, according to Voice of America.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on board a subway train in Pyongyang in 2015. The regime purchased electric trains and other transportation equipment from the Czech Republic decades ago but Prague may never have been paid for the goods. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun/EPA
North Korea’s Kim Jong Un on board a subway train in Pyongyang in 2015. The regime purchased electric trains and other transportation equipment from the Czech Republic decades ago but Prague may never have been paid for the goods. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun/EPA

Jakub Vintrlik, a spokesman for the Czech Republic’s finance ministry, said Friday North Korea began to incur debt with the Central European country in the early ’90s.

Prague then tried to negotiate with North Korea in 2009 and again in 2010 but failed to find a solution, according to VOA.

The Czech Republic exported equipment to North Korea during its period of communist rule.

Transportation gear, electric trains and heavy equipment were exported to North Korea, but Pyongyang may never have paid for the goods after receipt.

Vintrlik said North Korea requested all debts be forgiven but added Prague has no intention of canceling any of North Korea’s obligations.

According to documents acquired by VOA, North Korea requested about 95-100 percent of outstanding debt with the Czech Republic be canceled.

Poland has also been unable to recoup losses after delivering military Mi-2 helicopters to North Korea before the fall of the communist government in Warsaw.

North Korea has yet to repay the remainder of the $4.32 million debt it owes Poland after paying $1.7 million of the debt in 2012.

Other countries in Europe seeking repayment of debt include Sweden, Switzerland and Finland, according to VOA.

North Korea may be feeling squeezed as it copes with some of the heaviest sanctions in its history.

On Thursday the U.S. Treasury announced additional sanctions on seven North Korean individuals and three entities, connected to rights abuses detailed in a new State Department report, CNBC reported.

By Elizabeth Shim