North Korea has named a career diplomat and ex-nuclear envoy with broad experience in negotiating with rivals South Korea and the United States as its new foreign minister. Some South Korean analysts say former Vice Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho’s appointment could be part of a bid to revive long-stalled diplomacy and improve ties with the outside world.
Critics say that North Korea turns to empty diplomatic gestures only after ratcheting up animosity in an attempt to win concessions and aid. North Korean diplomats also reportedly take a back seat to the generals and their hard-line policies in tense times.
Ri has served as the North’s top envoy to stalled six-nation disarmament talks on his country’s nuclear weapons program and participated in talks with the United States in the 1990s. He also served as North Korea’s ambassador in London.
[Note: North Korea’s ruling elite includes another person called “Ri Yong Ho” in English, though his name in Korean is slightly different from the new foreign minister’s. This other Ri Yong Ho served as the country’s army chief before his abrupt dismissal in 2012, and has not appeared in the North’s media since.]
This entry was posted in DPRK Government by Grant Montgomery.