SEVERE WX : Fire Weather Watch View Alerts

North Korea's go-to diplomat: What you need to know

There are few notable personalities on the northern side of the Korean peninsula's demilitarized zone. But one of the...

Posted: May 29, 2018 12:22 PM
Updated: May 29, 2018 12:22 PM

There are few notable personalities on the northern side of the Korean peninsula's demilitarized zone. But one of them, Kim Yong Chul, has been dispatched to the US, in the latest signal from Pyongyang that Kim Jong Un is serious about pursuing talks with US President Donald Trump.

Kim Yong Chul, the vice-chairman of the Party Central Committee, has represented Kim Jong Un at key events this year, and is the young leader's top official in charge of relations between North and South Korea.

His travel to the US was confirmed by Trump, who wrote in a tweet on Tuesday morning that Kim was traveling to New York. He called the North Korean leader's decision to send one of his top lieutenants a "solid response to my letter, thank you!"

On his arrival in the US, Kim would be the most senior official to visit the United States since 2000, when Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok traveled to Washington to meet with then-President Bill Clinton in the Oval Office. Madeleine Albright, who was Secretary of State at the time, traveled to North Korea later that month.

Kim Yong Chul is a former head of North Korea's Reconnaissance Bureau, an espionage and special operations organization. He is believed to have been involved in a torpedo attack that sank the South Korean warship Cheonan in 2010, killing 46 South Korean sailors.

His inclusion as part of the delegation from the North that attended the Pyeongchang Olympics in February raised eyebrows given his suspected role in the Cheonan's sinking.

Kim's latest trip comes as the United States and North Korea attempt to revive the summit between the countries' two leader, a potential diplomatic triumph for nations technically still at war.

"He is probably one of the most up-to-date North Korean officials about what North Korea's requirements are for the summit," said Catherine Dill, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in Calilfornia.

"I think it's a pretty big deal and to me this raises whatever the estimates were of the summit actually occurring," she told CNN.

Trump indicated in his tweet that meetings were currently taking place "concerning the summit and more." North Korean and US officials have been spotted at hotels in Singapore, where the two leaders had been planning to meet.

Kim Yong Chol's trip to the US indicates that Washington and Pyongyang have direct lines of communication open and are working closely together to work though issues ahead of the summit.

Together with Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong, Kim Yong Chol has been regularly photographed by the North Korean leader's side. He attended both recent meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the demilitarized zone.

Kim Yong Chol has also already met at least one senior US official -- he was pictured greeting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when the former CIA director visited Pyongyang earlier this month.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 176157

Reported Deaths: 2461
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah35145568
Washington23569229
Marion20282299
Clackamas15499204
Lane11722144
Jackson9984127
Umatilla798483
Deschutes721472
Linn418763
Yamhill412575
Klamath353759
Polk346452
Malheur343058
Josephine307862
Douglas305765
Benton275418
Jefferson207432
Coos198431
Columbia155426
Union141824
Lincoln130520
Wasco130228
Hood River113029
Morrow108115
Clatsop9008
Crook89119
Baker86114
Curry5999
Tillamook5833
Grant4204
Lake4147
Harney3136
Wallowa1575
Gilliam571
Sherman571
Wheeler261
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3723446

Reported Deaths: 61122
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122964123668
Riverside2976204547
San Bernardino2949734561
San Diego2753683674
Orange2691764900
Santa Clara1173172017
Kern1080131331
Sacramento1016651647
Fresno1007021646
Alameda855831477
Ventura803321002
San Joaquin717351334
Contra Costa67157782
Stanislaus605831032
Tulare49443831
Monterey43301364
San Mateo41226560
San Francisco36094529
Santa Barbara33926446
Solano32047239
Merced31289453
Sonoma29720311
Imperial27995719
Kings22781245
Placer21908283
San Luis Obispo20991257
Madera16289240
Santa Cruz15666204
Marin13868226
Yolo13572200
Shasta11747219
Butte11601196
El Dorado9797109
Napa971579
Sutter9299109
Yuba612744
San Benito598963
Lassen567924
Tehama544556
Nevada448975
Tuolumne408664
Mendocino399347
Humboldt363138
Amador362946
Lake341643
Glenn235825
Colusa220416
Calaveras206252
Siskiyou196521
Inyo141838
Del Norte12907
Mono12744
Plumas6936
Modoc4904
Mariposa4287
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned440
Medford
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 42°
Brookings
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 58°
Medford
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 24°
Feels Like: 42°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 42°
Klamath Falls
Clear
38° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 33°
Sunny, warm, and breezy Wednesday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events