North Korea may brace for contact with outside world
(Seoul) – North Korea’s latest appointment of its foreign minister as a member of the ruling party’s politburo appears intended to brace for possible high-level contact with the U.S. and China, a Seoul think tank report said.
North Korea on Saturday promoted Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho to a member of the political bureau of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) from an alternative member, a rare promotion of a top diplomat to a key party position.
Two North Korean foreign ministers doubled as members of the politburo during the period of late founder Kim Il-sung who had ruled the country from 1945-1994, but there has been no such case since the era of late former leader Kim Jong-il who died in late 2011, according to a report by the state-run Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS), Yonhap News Agency reported.
“Ri’s appointment appears aimed at preparing for potential high-level contact with the U.S. and China,” the report said. “In particular, it seems to reflect the need to match the title of Chinese diplomatic counterparts.”
The move came amid an escalating war of words between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US.President Donald Trump over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes, the news agency said.
Ri said in New York last month that his country could consider a detonation of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean. The North’s ruler vowed to take “high-level” retaliation against Washington as Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the North.
The WPK held the plenary meeting to conduct the personnel reshuffle days before its 72nd anniversary of the founding.
Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the North’s leader, was named an alternate member of the party’s politburo, the top decision-making body. The move appears intended to further tighten the Kim family’s control over the country.