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Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
Correction: A previous version of this article said that Haspel commented that Kim would be retiring at the end of the year. The statement reported by CNN however only says that Kim will be retiring. Yonhap News Agency reported Kim would leave his post at the end of 2018.
Head of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) Korea Mission Center Andrew Kim is set to retire, head of the CIA Gina Haspel confirmed to CNN on Tuesday.
The confirmation comes after South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported earlier on Tuesday that Kim would be leaving his post at the end of 2018, citing a senior official at South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS).
CNN National Security correspondent Zachary Cohen later posted a statement from Haspel on social media, confirming Kim’s departure from the agency.
“After 28 years of service and one attempted retirement, we wish Andy the very best as he prepares to conclude his remarkable, indeed storied, career of high achievement at CIA,” that statement read.
A profile of Kim compiled by Bloomberg reports he was born in South Korea and later served as the CIA station chief in Seoul.
As alluded to in Haspel’s statement, Kim first retired from the agency following that role, only to return and fill the Korean Mission Center position.
The formation of the Korea Mission Center was only recently announced in May 2017 and was organized to “harness the full resources, capabilities, and authorities of the Agency in addressing the nuclear and ballistic missile threat” posed by Pyongyang.
“The new Mission Center draws on experienced officers from across the Agency and integrates them in one entity to bring their expertise and creativity to bear against the North Korea target,” according to a written statement released by the CIA at the time.
Kim was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year after appearing in images of Mike Pompeo’s initially unreported April visit to Pyongyang, where he met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
At the time, Pompeo was acting as Director of the CIA as the agency took an initial and prominent role in DPRK negotiations.
Pompeo’s later confirmation as Secretary of State did not hamper Kim’s involvement in high-level discussions, with the Korean Mission Center Director pictured in meetings with DPRK officials, including Kim Jong Un, multiple times since his initial 2018 visit to Pyongyang.
While Haspel’s statement to CNN did not indicate Kim’s next move following his second retirement from the CIA, Yonhap reported, again citing unnamed sources, that he may be taking a position at Stanford University.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: KCTV