The son of the highest-profile South Korean to defect to North Korea has arrived in the North to permanently resettle, North Korean state media said. The state-run Uriminzokkiri website reported that Choe In-guk, about 72, arrived in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, on Saturday to dedicate the rest of his life to Korean unification at the guidance of leader Kim Jong Un. The website published photos and a video showing a bespectacled Choe in a beret reading his arrival statement at Pyongyang’s airport. Choe said he decided to live in North Korea for good because it was his parents’ “dying wishes” for him to “follow” North Korea and work for its unification with South Korea, according to a written statement published on the website. Choe is the son of former South Korean Foreign Minister Choe Dok-shin, who defected to North Korea with his wife in 1986, years after he was reportedly embroiled in a corruption scandal and political disputes with then-South Korean President Park Chung-hee. He died in 1989. Some analysts say North Korea accepted Choe In-guk so it could use him as a propaganda tool to tell its citizens its system is superior to South Korea’s. North Korea is struggling to revive its moribund economy and improve people’s livelihoods, since the United States has not agreed on major sanctions relief until it takes significant steps toward nuclear disarmament. South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Choe In-guk was in North Korea without special permission from the Seoul government to visit the North.
“I intend now to return to normal life but wanted to first publicly thank everyone who worked to ensure I was safe and well,” Alek Sigley said in a statement released by his family’s spokeswoman in Australia, a day after he was flew from Pyongyang to Beijing and then Tokyo to be reunited with his Japanese wife.
Three days after the U.S. and North Korean leaders held their historic third meeting, North Korea’s U.N. Mission accused the Trump administration Wednesday of talking about dialogue but being “more and more hell-bent” on hostile acts. A press statement from the mission pointed a finger at U.S. efforts to exert “overt pressure” and have the world’s nations implement U.N. sanctions. First, it said, the U.S. and 23 other countries sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council committee monitoring sanctions on North Korea demanding urgent action “under the absurd pretext of ‘excess in the amount of refined petroleum imported.’” The United States and the other countries accused the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, or DPRK, of violating U.N. sanctions by importing far more than the annual limit of 500,000 barrels of refined petroleum products, which are key for its economy. But last month Russia and China blocked the sanctions committee from declaring that Pyongyang breached the annual import limit. The mission said the United States, Britain, France and Germany then circulated a joint letter to all U.N. member states on June 29 “calling for repatriation of the DPRK workers abroad, thus inciting an atmosphere of sanctions and pressure against the DPRK.” It added that not only does this speak “to the reality that the United States is practically more and more hell-bent on the hostile acts against the DPRK, though talking about the DPRK-U.S. dialogue,” but the letter was sent by the U.S. Mission “under the instruction of the
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Saturday he would like to see North Korean leader Kim Jong Un this weekend at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, and North Korea said a meeting would be “meaningful” if it happened. Trump, who is in Osaka, Japan, for a Group of 20 summit, is due to arrive in South Korea later on Saturday. He is scheduled to return to Washington on Sunday. If Trump and Kim were to meet, it would be for the third time in just over a year, and four months since their second summit, in Vietnam, broke down with no progress on U.S. efforts to press North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Trump made the offer to meet Kim in a comment on Twitter about his trip to South Korea. “While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!” he said. Trump later told reporters his offer to Kim was a spur-of-the-moment idea: “I just thought of it this morning.” “We’ll be there and I just put out a feeler because I don’t know where he is right now. He may not be in North Korea,” he said. “If he’s there, we’ll see each other for two minutes, that’s all we can, but that will be fine,” he added. Trump said he and Kim “get along very well”. A senior North Korean official said a summit between
North Korea said Thursday that South Korea must stop trying to mediate between Pyongyang and Washington, as it stepped up its pressure on the United States to work out new proposals to salvage deadlocked nuclear diplomacy. The North Korean statement was an apparent continuation of its displeasure with Seoul and Washington over the stalled diplomacy. But there are no signs that North Korea would formally abandon talks anytime soon as an inter-Korean liaison office in North Korean remains operating and the North still talks about good relations between its leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump. The statement came two days before Trump visits South Korea for a two-day trip. There have been no public meetings between the United States and North Korea since the breakdown of the second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi in February. Kim returned home empty-handed after Trump refused to provide him with badly needed sanctions relief in return for a limited denuclearization step. The summit’s collapse was a blow to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal who shuttled between Washington and Pyongyang to facilitate talks between the countries to help find a diplomatic settlement of the North Korean nuclear crisis. Talks of revival of diplomacy, however, has flared after Trump and Kim recently exchanged personal letters. Moon said earlier this week that U.S. and North Korean officials were holding “behind-the-scene talks” to try to set up a third summit between Trump and Kim. Moon also said talks between the two Koreas
U.S. President Donald Trump sent North Korean leader Kim Jong Un an “excellent” letter, the North’s state-run news agency reported Sunday, quoting Kim as saying he would “seriously contemplate” the content. The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said Trump sent a letter and “correspondence between the two leaders has been ongoing.” Formal talks between the U.S. and North Korea broke down after a failed summit between Kim and Trump in February in Vietnam. But earlier in June Trump told U.S. reporters he received a “beautiful” letter from Kim, without revealing what was written. In an interview with TIME magazine last week, Trump said he also received a “birthday letter” from Kim that was delivered by hand a day before. The official stances remain the same. The U.S. is demanding that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons entirely before international sanctions are lifted. North Korea is seeking a step-by-step approach in which moves toward denuclearization are matched by concessions from the U.S., notably a relaxation of the sanctions. Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency’s report on the Trump letter said Kim “said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content.” “Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong Un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” the agency said, without elaborating. South Korea’s presidential office said it sees the exchange of letters between Kim and Trump as a positive development for keeping the momentum for dialogue alive. News of Trump’s letter came days
Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who was killed in Malaysia in 2017, had been an informant for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The Journal cited an unnamed “person knowledgeable about the matter” for the report, and said many details of Kim Jong Nam’s relationship with the CIA remained unclear. Reuters could not independently confirm the story. The CIA declined to comment. The Journal quoted the person as saying “There was a nexus” between the CIA and Kim Jong Nam. “Several former U.S. officials said the half brother, who had lived outside of North Korea for many years and had no known power base in Pyongyang, was unlikely to be able to provide details of the secretive country’s inner workings,” the Journal said. The former officials also said Kim Jong Nam had been almost certainly in contact with security services of other countries, particularly China’s, the Journal said. Kim Jong Nam’s role as a CIA informant is mentioned in a new book about Kim Jong Un, “The Great Successor,” by Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield that is due to be published on Tuesday. Fifield says Kim Jong Nam usually met his handlers in Singapore and Malaysia, citing a source with knowledge of the intelligence. The book says that security camera footage from Kim Jong Nam’s last trip to Malaysia showed him in a hotel elevator with an Asian-looking man who was reported to be a U.S. intelligence
The powerful younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended a public event in Pyongyang for the first time in more than 50 days, casting further doubt on media speculation he had ordered her to lay low over the failed nuclear summit with Washington. North Korea’s state media Tuesday showed Kim Yo Jong clapping aside her brother, his wife and other top officials at the 150,000-seat May Day Stadium where thousands of gymnasts, dancers and flip-card-wielding spectators worked in precise unison to perform “The Land of the People.” The official Korean Central News Agency said the performers showed “beautiful and graceful rhythmic movements, high-spirited gymnastics, interesting national emotion and rich artistic depiction,” but also that Kim Jong Un was quite unhappy about their display. He seriously criticized the creators for their “wrong spirit of creation and irresponsible work attitude” and set forth “important tasks” to correctly implement the country’s revolutionary policy on literature and art, the agency said. State media often reports on Kim scolding factory officials, educators and others perceived as not performing to his standards. The “mass games” events were once routine in North Korea but were on hiatus for several years during the mourning for Kim’s father and only returned last year. Kim Yo Jong is a senior official of North Korea’s ruling party and is believed to be her brother’s closest confidant. She had accompanied him to his summits with President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in and had joined other dignitaries
A senior North Korean official who had been reported as being purged over the failed nuclear summit with Washington was shown in state media on Monday enjoying a concert near leader Kim Jong Un. North Korean publications on Monday showed Kim Yong Chol sitting five seats away from a clapping Kim Jong Un in the same row along with other top officials during a musical performance by the wives of Korean People’s Army officers. A report by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency named Kim Yong Chol among the attendees of the event, which it said “impressively represented the ideological and mental features of KPA officers’ wives, who make every moment of their life honorable with ardent yearning for the leader.” Kim Yong Chol has been North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator and the counterpart of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo since Kim Jong Un entered nuclear talks with the U.S. early last year. He traveled to Washington and met President Donald Trump twice before Kim’s two summits with Trump. Negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have been at a standstill since February, when the second summit between Trump and Kim broke down over what the United States described as excessive North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for only a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities. Last week, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited an unidentified source in reporting that Kim Yong Chol had been sentenced to hard labor and ideological re-education over the failed summit in Hanoi, Vietnam’s
North Korea executed its nuclear envoy to the United States as part of a purge of officials who steered negotiations for a failed summit between leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, a South Korean newspaper said on Friday. Kim Hyok Chol was executed in March at Mirim Airport in Pyongyang, along with four foreign ministry officials after they were charged with spying for the United States, the Chosun Ilbo reported, citing an unidentified source with knowledge of the situation. “He was accused of spying for the United States for poorly reporting on the negotiations without properly grasping U.S. intentions,” the source was quoted as saying. The February summit in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, the second between Kim and Trump, failed to reach a deal because of conflicts over U.S. calls for complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and North Korean demands for sanctions relief. Reuters was unable to independently confirm the report. Previously, North Korean officials have been executed or purged only to reappear with a new title, according to media reports. A spokeswoman at South Korea’s Unification Ministry declined to comment. An official at the presidential Blue House in Seoul said it was inappropriate to comment on an unverified report. The United States is attempting to check on the reports of the envoy’s execution, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during his visit to Berlin on Friday When asked about reports of a “shakeup” of Kim Jong Un’s negotiating team in a May 5 interview with ABC