Kim Jong-un’s ‘right hand’ was ‘disgraced’ because of the deadlock with the US

Avatar of Nick John By Nick John Dec22,2023 #disgraced #Jong
Kim Jong-un's 'right hand' was 'disgraced' because of the deadlock with the US 0
Kim Jong-un's 'right hand' was 'disgraced' because of the deadlock with the US 0

Vice Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Yong-chol (left) and US President Trump at the White House in June 2018.

Vice Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Yong-chol is the country’s most prominent diplomat in the past year.

This week, Korean media reported that Kim Yong-chol, who was considered Kim Jong-un’s `right-hand man`, had `fallen out of favor`.

South Korean officials and analysts cautioned that it was too early to say exactly what happened.

But all agree on one thing: Kim Yong-chol and his negotiating team, who drove Kim Jong-un’s diplomacy with Washington, have been eliminated.

Kim Yong-chol and senior members of the team, including special envoy Kim Hyok-chol, have not appeared in North Korean media since the second Trump-Kim conference failed to reach an agreement.

Kim Jong-un's 'right hand' was 'disgraced' because of the deadlock with the US

North Korea special envoy Kim Hyok-chol in Beijing on February 19.

Cheong Seong-chang, an analyst at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, said it was clear that Kim Yong-chol had lost his position as top coordinator in US-North Korea negotiations.

But Cheong does not believe that Kim Yong-chol has been sent to a political prison camp, because he remained as Vice Chairman of the Korean Workers’ Party during a parliamentary meeting in April. Jung Chang-hyun, the head

However, in April, Kim Yong-chol was dismissed from his position as head of the Korean United Front Work Department – the party agency that replaced the North Korean Foreign Ministry in negotiations with Washington.

`We can say that Kim Yong-chol’s group in the Korean United Front Working Committee is no longer there,` said Joo Sung-ha, a North Korean defector who is now a reporter at South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo.

Kim Yong-chol, 73 years old, is someone who makes it difficult for opponents to grasp.

`You have to shoot right between the beast’s eyes,` Kim Yong-chol said.

However, in recent meetings with the US, Kim Yong-chol did not show a complacent attitude but seemed to follow strict instructions from his superiors.

Kim Yong-chol’s domestic position increased after the first Trump-Kim conference in Singapore last June.

But after the second Trump-Kim conference in Hanoi in February, Kim Jong-un returned home empty-handed, unable to convince the US to ease sanctions.

Analysts say that Kim Yong-chol mistakenly believed that Trump wanted to reach an agreement to show off it as a diplomatic achievement, so he would accept sanctions relief in exchange for North Korea dismantling part of the facility.

`Someone has to be blamed for the supreme leader’s loss of face and it’s clearly Kim Yong-chol and his team,` said Cheon Seong-whun, of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul.

Kim Yong-chol’s fall from grace could bring both opportunities and challenges to Washington.

`North Korea is likely to move in a tougher direction,` Mr. Cheon said.

Kim Yong-chol is a four-star general who once headed the Reconnaissance General Department, North Korea’s top military intelligence agency.

`The window for negotiations will open wider, but only if Washington becomes more flexible,` Cheong said.

Rumors of North Korean negotiators being purged have been circulating among officials in Washington for at least the past five weeks.

Although North Korea has recently conducted several short-range missile tests, President Trump has repeatedly affirmed his confidence in Kim Jong-un in Twitter posts and encouraged the resumption of diplomatic efforts.

On May 5, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked on ABC’s `This Week` program about rumors that some members of the North Korean negotiating team were executed.

Pompeo replied that he was aware of these rumors but had nothing to add and then smiled.

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