Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for North Korea

Newsline: North Korea’s Kim taps tough-talking military veteran as foreign minister

North Korea’s new foreign minister is a former defense commander with little diplomatic experience, spotlighting leader Kim Jong Un’s reliance on party and military loyalists at a sensitive time amid stalled U.S. talks, analysts in Seoul said on Monday. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-politics/north-koreas-kim-taps-tough-talking-military-veteran-as-foreign-minister-idUSKBN1ZJ0RE) Last week, North Korea told countries with embassies in Pyongyang that Ri Son Gwon, a senior military officer and official of the ruling Workers’ Party, had been appointed foreign minister, a diplomatic source in Seoul told Reuters. He replaces Ri Yong Ho, a career diplomat with years of experience negotiating with Washington, but who often took a backseat to other officials during the last two years of diplomacy.

Newsline: North Korean foreign minister replaced

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has been replaced, Seoul-based NK News reported on Saturday. Ri’s replacement has not been identified but Pyongyang is set to reveal his successor about next Thursday, the report said, citing unnamed sources. From 2003 to 2007, he was North Korea’s ambassador in London and served as vice foreign minister, representing North Korea at six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-foreign-minister/north-korean-foreign-minister-replaced-report-idUSKBN1ZH0B3) Ri did not attend the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in September. He had attended the high-level meeting in New York for three years from 2016 to 2018.

Newsline: Kim Jong Un’s Uncle Returns from Czech Republic After Quitting as Ambassador

Kim Jong Un’s uncle has returned to North Korea after quitting his job as the isolated nation’s ambassador to the Czech Republic, Yonhap News reported, citing lawmakers. Kim Pyong Il is the half-brother of the North Korean leader’s late father Kim Jong Il. Lawmakers were briefed on the move by the head of the National Intelligence Service, the news agency said. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-01/kim-jong-un-s-uncle-returns-after-quitting-as-ambassador-yonhap) Pyong Il was once considered a potential successor of his brother, but he’s been distant from power since moving out of the country in 1988 to take an ambassador job in Hungary, the report said.

Newsline: Malaysia to reopen embassy in Pyongyang next year

Malaysia will reopen its Pyongyang embassy in 2020, the country’s foreign minister announced, following its partial closure in the wake of a North Korean-orchestrated assassination in a Kuala Lumpur airport almost three years ago. A primary reason for the reopening is to “encourage” North Korean engagement with the U.S. and others, foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah said during a press conference in Moscow alongside Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. (https://www.nknews.org/2019/11/malaysia-to-reopen-embassy-in-pyongyang-next-year-foreign-minister-says/) “We look at the Korean peninsula seriously, we are very supportive of all efforts in trying to negotiate for peace, especially between DPRK and ROK,” Saifuddin said. “And because of that, Malaysia is very happy that there was this negotiation that has started between President Trump and Chairman Kim. We want this meeting to go on.” He added, however, that “for this kind of negotiation to proceed, you sometimes need to encourage people. And we thought we would want to encourage DPRK by showing our moral support, by reactivating our embassy in Pyongyang.”

Newsline: Venezuela opens first embassy in North Korea

Facing increasing diplomatic pressures from the West, Venezuela moved to open its first embassy in North Korean capital Pyongyang. The move was apparently designed as a message to Washington. New embassy serves as symbol of alliance in the face of U.S. “imperialism,” Venezuelan vice-FM said at the opening of the embassy.

https://www.nknews.org/2019/08/venezuela-to-open-embassy-in-north-korea-on-wednesday-afternoon/

Newsline: Germany cannot shut down North Korean Embassy youth hostel

The German government wants to stop a hostel manager from paying rent to the North Korean Embassy. But despite a UN resolution forbidding rent payments, the City Hostel Berlin is still open for business. The German government still cannot find a way to shut down the City Hostel in the center of Berlin, even though the building is leased from the North Korean Embassy next door. According to a report earlier this week by Süddeutsche Zeitung, along with public broadcasters NDR and WDR, the embassy appears to be stalling attempts to cancel the lease contract with the German management company EGI GmbH, by failing to pay the necessary court fees. (https://www.dw.com/en/germany-cannot-shut-down-north-korean-embassy-youth-hostel/a-50057740) Newly uncovered information shows that the embassy, under pressure from the German Foreign Ministry, cancelled the contract with EGI in February 2018 and then filed an eviction notice at Berlin’s state court. But it then failed to provide the required advance on the court fees, which means that the large hostel, with some 435 beds in around 100 rooms, remains open for tourists hoping to see the German capital on a budget. The ministry’s pressure came in the wake of a United Nations resolution in November 2016, which banned member states from allowing North Korea from using embassy property for anything other than diplomatic activities.

Newsline: US ex-marine tied to North Korean embassy raid in Spain to be released on bail

hristopher Ahn, a former U.S. marine who Spanish authorities have linked to the February break-in at North Korea’s embassy in Madrid, was at a hearing at a California court on July 9 ordered to be freed on a $1.3 million bail. Ahn — who the U.S. government has asked be held in captivity since his detention in April — must remain under house arrest pending further proceedings into his potential extradition to Spain. He will be required to use an ankle monitor, and will only be permitted to leave home for medical appointments and to attend church. (https://www.nknews.org/2019/07/chris-ahn-ex-marine-tied-to-north-korean-embassy-raid-to-be-released-on-bail/) Family and friends who put up the bail, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jean Rosenbluth said, stood to risk losing the money should Ahn, previously described as a “flight risk,” flee. “I spent a lot of time reading about you and I’m confident you’re going to do the right thing,” Rosenbluth was quoted as having told the former marine, first tied to the mystery break-in at the DPRK embassy in Madrid back in February. That raid, Spanish authorities have alleged, saw Ahn and others from the “Free Joseon” group forcibly enter the DPRK embassy, before allegedly assaulting and restraining diplomatic staff.