Jun 14, 2018

Inside Australia’s surreal and secret diplomatic history with North Korea

Australia didn't officially have diplomatic ties to North Korea from 1975-2000. What we had instead is much stranger.

Meredith Burgmann

Writer and former Labor MLC

North Korea Australia

Part of an "official" North Korea delegation visiting Australia in 1999.

As we wait to see if the "The Great Dealmaker" eventually gets slamdunked by "The Supreme Leader" or vice versa, I've been forced to contemplate North Korea’s history in the international sphere.

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

6 thoughts on “Inside Australia’s surreal and secret diplomatic history with North Korea

  1. AR

    Nice narrative Ms Burgmann but something about what you saw, if not discovered, in the north would have been better.

  2. Rob Gerrand

    Superb article. Fascinating!

  3. Vasco

    Good read; hope you’re working on your memoirs Meredith.

  4. Anne M F

    That brought tears to my eyes. We in Australia do not know we are alive most of the time and cannot imagine what it must be like to be physically separated from relatives and know hideous things might be happening to them.
    While I cannot imagine Trump has any idea about how to go about diplomacy and perhaps the Summit won’t have achieved anything, maybe we should all hope and pray it was a small step towards a better and unified Korea.

  5. albacore

    We also forget that the US dropped well over half a million tons of bombs, napalm and chemical weapons, razing entire cities and killing over a million civilians.

    1. Wallywonga

      Yes, nice anecdote from Ms Bergmann, but it seems both sides of politics in Australia are comfortable with perpetuating the notion that diplomatic failure/ all Korean dysfunction is due to an eccentric and despotic N Korean regime.
      Korea was the US’s first hamfisted attempt at ideological warfare post second WW, and they failed. Like in Vietnam, a threat of failure unleashed unspeakable brutality from them, as outlined here by Albacore; and it still didn’t work.
      So a division occurred and N Korea became diplomatically isolated; while the UN was involved, it was largely the US’s idea (better than defeat?).
      The continuing division of Korea is an humanitarian tragedy, and aspirationally most Koreans want it to end. Removing the US spite from any negotiations may help a great deal in advancing that.
      Moon Jae-in deserves credit, and is doing all the recent groundwork here.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details