SEOUL, South Korea – the ageing of the North Korean nuclear strategist involved in the now-dormant disarmament deals. His former interpreter in the international negotiations now North Korea’s top female diplomat.
Kim Kye Gwan, and Choe Son Hui are one of the most famous North Korean officials after leader Kim Jong-Un and his family members. They are in the news again now, after their recent back-to-back comments about the United States accused President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancellation on Thursday of a long-awaited summit with Kim Jong-Un. On Friday, Trump said, the two sides work to get the meeting back on track.
A look at who the officials are and how their comments led Trump to spike the summit scheduled for June 12 in Singapore:
KIM KYE GWAN
First Vice-Minister of Foreign affairs Kim Kye Gwan, 75, led the North Korean delegation at many of the out-and-six-nation nuclear disarmament talks in Beijing in the years 2003-2008.
In the talks between the two koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, he was known for the search of a series of concessions in exchange for slow disarmament steps. South Korean media called his strategy “salami tactics” to compare with the cutting of thin slices from a salami.
Under the agreements made in the negotiations with North Korea stopped atomic activities, and the disabled key elements of the weapons program in exchange for security guarantees, the supplies of fuel and other aid. But in the end it collapsed in the middle of disputes over how to verify the North-disarmament steps. Criticism then flared in Washington, Seoul, and elsewhere that it’s only benefited from North Korea.
In the past few months, Kim Kye Gwan, who was also a senior member of the ruling workers ‘ party and a representative of the rubber-stamp parliament, is rarely mentioned in the state of the media, which led to speculation that he might be ill.
On May 16, but he has issued a statement threatening to scuttle the Kim-Trump-top to protest against what he called Washington’s push for unilateral disarmament. Who threw the fuel on skepticism in the US. on the question of whether North Korea truly intends to go away from its nuclear program.
CHOE SON HUI
Also a vice-minister of foreign affairs, Choe, about 54, is one of the few women who have high level posts in North Korea’s male-dominated ruling elite. Other high-profile women are under Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who is in charge of the North-propaganda affairs, and his young, popular woman Ri Sol-Ju.
Allegedly a stepdaughter of the former Premier Choe Yong Rim, Choe Son Hui worked as an English-language interpreter for Kim Kye Gwan during the six-party talks after his study in Austria and China. She was then head of the North American Affairs Bureau at the Ministry of Foreign affairs before a state media dispatch in March confirmed her promotion to vice-minister of foreign affairs.
Seoul Unification Ministry says Choe is the highest woman in the North Korean Ministry of Foreign affairs.
On Thursday, she grabbed the international headlines by calling the U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence a “political ghost” and threatening to scrap the Kim-Trump-top. “Whether or not the U.S. will meet us in a conference room or in the meeting with us at nuclear-to-nuclear confrontation is entirely dependent on the decision and behavior of the United States,” she said.
The direct led Trump to say that it is “inappropriate” to go ahead with the summit because of the “enormous anger and open hostility” shown in the North’s “most recent decision.”
Kim Kye Gwan was trying quickly to calm the situation, says in a statement that North Korea is still ready to hold talks with the United States “at any time, in any format.”