North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) has appointed a new director of its First European Department following the promotion of its former director late last year, according to the Russian embassy in Pyongyang’s Facebook page.
The “newly appointed director,” named by the Russian embassy as Kan Song Ho, takes up the position after previous director Im Chon Il was promoted to become one of North Korea’s Vice Ministers of Foreign Affairs last November.
The foreign ministry’s First European Department primarily oversees North Korea’s relations with Russia and Central Asian nations.
While the Russian Embassy named the new director in English as Kan Song Ho, no prior mention of various possible spellings of the name in Korean or English could be found to be linked to North Korea’s MOFA.
A 2019 reference book of North Korean government officials released by South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) last month also contained no mention of the particular name or varied spellings connected to the foreign ministry, and contained no information regarding both director and vice-director positions of the First European Department.
But according to the Russian Embassy, it appears the man has extensive experience handling DPRK-Russian relations.
Following a recent meeting with the new director, Russian Ambassador to the DPRK Alexander Matsegora “congratulated our old friend and colleague with important appointment to the post of the head of the structural unit in charge of relations with Russia and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries,” the Embassy Facebook said in a post Monday.
“We expressed confidence that his extensive cross-cultural knowledge, brilliant command of the Russian language, contacts established in the official Russian agencies and public organizations, will make it possible to accomplish successfully the tasks set by the authorities,” it continued.
The appointment comes as the Russian Ambassador has held a series of meetings already this year with his DPRK counterparts, as Russia continues to maintain close involvement in North Korea’s ongoing denuclearization negotiations with the U.S.
Ambassador Matsegora held his second meeting in a week on Saturday with DPRK Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui, who the Russian Embassy confirmed as being “in charge of the denuclearization topic and relations with the USA.”
In those talks, Matsegora and Choe “exchanged relevant information, in particular in the light of the results of the recent visit of [Kim Jong Un] to the People’s Republic of China.”
Russia also reaffirmed its intention to stay closely coordinated with North Korea and China on denuclearization following formal trilateral agreement signed last October, with the Embassy saying the talks Saturday concerned “the immediate prospects for the work of negotiation formats aimed at finding the best ways to resolve the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem.”
The two also met on January 7, according to a separate post on the Russian Embassy’s Facebook, where the two also discussed the nuclear issue.
There, Choe reportedly “emphasized that tactics and strategy of the DPRK foreign office on the denuclearization track will be fully and entirely based on the principles designated by the DPRK leader Kim Jong Un in his New Year address.”
Monday’s Facebook post announcing the appointment of Kan also suggested the two countries will continue to focus on boosting economic ties affected by sanctions in recent years, saying the two sides exchanged “proposals for a plan of activities dedicated to the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Agreement on Economic and Cultural Cooperation (March 17, 1949).”
Russia and the DPRK are also expected to continue negotiations over organizing a summit between Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin, expected to take place this year in Moscow or elsewhere in Russia.
Featured image: Facebook of Russian Embassy in Pyongyang
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