Ex-spy or genteel diplomat? NKorea's choices for N-talks

SEOUL: Two of North Korean chief Kim Jong Un's closest aides - a former military intelligence chief and the country's overseas minister - are being talked of because the perhaps applicants to barter with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on denuclearization.
Whether Kim will plump for his hardline former undercover agent chief Kim Yong Chol or genteel career diplomat, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, may provide a clue on what manner Pyongyang will take at the talks, political analysts and professionals on North Korea stated.

Kim Jong Un vowed in a joint observation at Tuesday's historic summit in Singapore with US President Donald Trump to work for denuclearization, and Trump promised security promises for North Korea in change.

They introduced few main points, and agreed to carry talks "at the earliest possible date" to put in force the outcomes of the summit with Pompeo main the United States side. But the observation didn't specify his North Korean counterpart through identify, pronouncing it would be a "relevant, high-level" legitimate.

That would restrict the conceivable applicants to a handful of fellows relied on through Kim inside North Korea's highly opaque leadership circle.

Both Kim Yong Chol and Ri accompanied Kim Jong Un to Singapore for the summit and have been seated with him at the table all over talks that integrated the 2 delegations.

Kim Yong Chol's centre-stage presence ahead of and all over the new thaw between the 2 Koreas and Pyongyang and Washington indicate he is one of the maximum powerful, closest aides of the young chief.

But he has mainly dealt with inter-Korean family members, rather than nuclear problems, that have mostly been handled through the overseas ministry.

"The absence of the North Korean name in the joint statement, despite the role that Kim Yong Chol has played so far, could mean Kim Jong Un is agonising over whether he should now charge diplomats to do the job," stated Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

Spy chief or diplomat?

Kim Yong Chol, 72, is a four-star common, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party, and director of the United Front Department, which is rate of inter-Korean ties.

He visited Trump in Washington in overdue May, and has met Pompeo 4 occasions, two times in Pyongyang, as soon as in New York after which all over the summit.

"Kim should be the most likely partner of Pompeo, having worked with him before and knowing well about what Kim Jong Un wants," stated Cheong Seong-chang, a North Korea leadership expert at the Sejong Institute south of Seoul.

Kim Yong Chol has spent just about 30 years within the intelligence neighborhood, together with a stint as chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, North Korea's primary undercover agent company.

The United States and South Korea blacklisted him for supporting the North's weapons programmes in 2010 and 2016, respectively.

Seoul accused him of masterminding fatal assaults on a South Korean army ship and an island in 2010. He was also connected through US intelligence to a devastating cyber attack on Sony Pictures in 2014.

North Korea denied any involvement in any of the incidents.

A hawkish military commander, he has advised a sequence of inter-Korean military talks for the reason that overdue 1980s.

He was "best at pressing and humiliating" his fighters all over negotiations, according to a retired South Korean diplomat who met him. In 2014, he "stormed out of the room" all over military talks when the South demanded an apology for the 2010 assaults, stated former South Korean military officers involved within the meeting.

"He's known as a hard-liner, as much as Pompeo in Washington, but both people are realists who can make a compromise if necessary," Cheong stated.

Westernised, professional

In distinction, Ri Yong Ho is seen as a genteel, soft-spoken career diplomat who is well mannered and funny however can also be difficult with sharp debating abilities.

He called Trump "President Evil" at the U.N. General Assembly remaining 12 months, however such rhetoric is in most cases out of personality for him, according to former opposite numbers and co-workers.

A fluent English speaker, the 62-year-old Ri has held quite a lot of high-level posts dealing with the West, together with as envoy to the now defunct six-party talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programmes.

Following a unprecedented party congress in 2016, Ri was appointed overseas minister and promoted to the party's politburo, the opaque, omnipotent party organ the place top state affairs are made up our minds. It was the primary time in two decades that a career diplomat was named to the politburo, Cheong stated.

"It would be reasonable for the foreign ministry that has professional expertise and experiences to take over nuclear talks," stated Chun Yung-woo, a former South Korean representative to the six-party talks.

"The summit's joint statement simply heralded the start of working-level negotiations, where all key, complex issues will be discussed, including the timeline of the North's dismantlement, its verification and corresponding US action."


Another potential negotiator is Ri Su Yong, a former overseas minister who is lately responsible for international affairs at the party.


While serving as ambassador to Switzerland, the 78-year-old Ri oversaw the young Kim's European schooling, which helped him earn the trust of the chief, however he is seen as a protracted shot compared to the other two.


A senior South Korean legitimate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated the candidate selected could be a factor within the technique to the negotiations, however not in North Korea's position.


"Whoever sits at the negotiating table, any solid, specific decision on denuclearization would be made by Kim Jong Un himself," he stated.
Ex-spy or genteel diplomat? NKorea's choices for N-talks Ex-spy or genteel diplomat? NKorea's choices for N-talks Reviewed by kailash soni on June 13, 2018 Rating: 5
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