Did you know that Africa’s largest statue is made by North Koreans? Or that diplomats from the closed country have been caught repeatedly smuggling ivory out of Africa? Did you know that all this is part of the regime’s advanced Africa strategy?

We at Planet Mundus didn’t before this episode. But as it turns out, North Korea has had strategic relations with many African countries for a long time. On this podcast, we explore their strategy with the help of a man whose life got turned upside-down by said same diplomatic game. Aliou Niane was just a normal student in Guinea when he was forced to spend five years of his youth in North Korea.

More than him, we talk to Benjamin Young, a ph.d. student of North Korean History at the George Washington University, and Samuel Ramani, Oxford student and contributor to the Washington Post on North Korea’s foreign strategy, who help us get a gist of what North Korea is up to in Africa.

This episode of Planet Mundus is produced by Ole Krogsgaard and Freja C. Eriksen. Reporting from Jan Willems and Varvara Morozova.


  1. Awesome , thanks for the Note!. Its amazing to get a closer look to relationships between countries that are not precisely all-day-long in the worldwide politic scene. Or the ”scene” that i have access to :p …

  2. Hi Freja;
    Nice narration and analysis. This is Aliou.
    When I was living in Japan, in 1989; I applied for a visa at the embassy of North Korea in Beijing but it was granted. I am sure having the Japanese visa in my passport could have been the main reason.

    To Ben’s point, North Korea invested in infrastructure in big cities such as the capital Pyongyang, Hammeung and Wonsan.

    I enjoyed the interview and learned a lot from the other two experts (Ben Young & Samuel Ramani) on North Korea’s African strategies.

    Thank you.


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