Does North Korean diplomacy always clearly reflect Kim’s intention?


With the much-anticipated Trump-Kim summit abruptly called off, many project their analysis in every possible angle.

Some say opposite pressure from the Washington establishment was so strong while others say Kim Jong Un had no sincere intention for diplomacy at the first place.

A senior White House official is reported to have said North Koreans just stood the US’s advance team up. WSJ editorial board even blames President Moon for misrepresenting Kim’s intention.

But is what Kim intends always presented clearly through its diplomatic activities? While we can hear many things going on and off inside the White House, North Korean diplomacy still remains as a black box in most part.

Sometimes even North Korean diplomats seem to struggle to know what their leader actually wants. Thae Yong Ho has one episode to share:

[quote cite=”태영호, 3층 서기실의 암호 (서울: 기파랑, 2018), 168″]Kim Jong Il struggled to establish diplomatic relations with France. A North Korean has to visit a French embassy in Beijing for visa in order to visit France. Which is quite a inconvenience. Kim wanted to start diplomatic relations with France even if Pyongyang has to kowtow to Paris. Vice foreign minister Choe Su Hon, who didn’t know that, was once harshly scolded by Kim.

Choe visited France to discuss establishing relations. Paris sent its official of lower rank than Choe was. Decided to go back without discussion, Choe expected Kim’s praise for practicing sovereignty-first diplomacy.

Being reported that Choe came back without a single discussion with Paris, Kim Jong Il reviled Kang Sok Ju the foreign minister. I told you to start relations even if you have to kowtow. Go meet the lower rank official if you have to. Choe flew to France after writing a self-criticism paper. He asked for a meeting but France informed that it won’t meet him.[/quote]

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