North Korea appears to be replacing its top envoy in Vietnam over a month after the breakdown of February‘s summit between leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump in Hanoi.
Kim Myong-gil, the country’s ambassador to Vietnam, made a farewell visit to Vietnamese Vice President Dang Thi Ngoc Thinh on Friday, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
In her meeting with the outgoing ambassador, the vice president emphasized 70 years of friendly and cooperative relations between Vietnam and North Korea, the KCNA said.
It did not provide details on his next position and replacement, but he is reportedly planning to head home around Friday. Kim has served as Pyongyang‘s top envoy in Vietnam since August 2015.
His departure comes more than a month after North Korean leader Kim held a summit with Trump in the Vietnamese capital in late February.
The summit ended without a deal as the two failed to find common ground over the scope of Pyongyang’s denuclearization steps and Washington‘s sanctions relief.
Following the summit, Kim also made a two-day official visit to Vietnam during which he met President Nguyen Phu Trong and other top officials.
North Korean state media earlier reported that Kim expressed hope for stepped-up cooperation and exchanges between the two countries in all areas and for upgrading bilateral ties during the meetings.
Observers say that North Korea will likely replace Kim with someone with higher status given Pyongyang’s push to strengthen its bilateral relations with Vietnam.
A source in Hanoi told Yonhap News Agency that during his recent trip to Vietnam, North Korean leader Kim mentioned taking measures to “upgrade relations with Vietnam” and that the replacement of the ambassador can be seen in that context.
Another source said the North might not have wrapped up its personnel reshuffle given that it has not yet sought diplomatic consent, known as “agrement,” for an ambassador nominee to the Southeast Asian nation. (Yonhap)