According to Pak, his country was unable to pay its debt due to economic difficulties.
"We experienced very difficult times, not only in the 1970s, but also in the 80s and in the 90s," Pak Yin Sik told Yle, venturing that the country's economic situation has improved since. He also suggested that an amicable solution may be found through joint efforts on both sides.
Today, trade relations between Finland and North Korea leave much to be desired. According to the Finnish customs, last year Finland exports to North Korea were worth a paltry sum of 1,500 euros. Goods worth 6,000 euros were received from North Korea, less than half the price of an economy-class South Korean car. In 2013, however, Finland delivered cranes and dental equipment to North Korea worth 8.5 million euros. For comparison's sake, in 2016, the South Korean brand Kia sold 7,168 cars in Finland, making it one of the top-10 foreign car brands in the country.
At present, neither Finland nor North Korea currently have resident ambassadors. North Korea is represented by the North Korean embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, whereas Finland is represented by the Finnish embassy in Seoul, South Korea.
Incidentally, a similar debt situation has occurred in Swedish-North Korean relations. In the 1970s, North Korea purchased a thousand Volvo 144 passenger cars, ship equipment, and Atlas Copco drilling equipment. Today, North Korea remains Sweden's largest debtor, and trade between the countries is almost non-existent.
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