Choe Son Hui: North Korea appoints nuclear negotiator as first female foreign minister

Career diplomat Choe Son Hui was named at a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea from June 8 to 10, overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, state media KCNA reported.

His appointment comes at a time of tension on the Korean Peninsula as North Korea aggressively steps up its weapons testing program in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

On Tuesday, the United States’ special representative for North Korean policy, Sung Kim, warned that Washington believed North Korea was preparing to carry out a seventh nuclear test, the first since 2017.

The International Atomic Energy Agency also said on Tuesday that North Korea is “preparing its nuclear test site”, warning that the situation surrounding Pyongyang’s nuclear program “is quite concerning as we have seen a rapid advance in each line”, based on activity at the Punggye-ri Site.

North Korea has carried out 17 missile launches this year alone, including two successful tests of suspected intercontinental ballistic missiles.
South Korea and the United States staged a show of air force towards North Korea on Tuesday, flying 20 fighter jets over waters west of the Korean peninsula in response to recent missile tests from Pyongyang .
It came a day after the two allies fired eight missiles into nearby waters, which they said demonstrated that “even though North Korea provokes with missiles from multiple locations, (North Korea South and the United States have) the ability and the will to strike immediately with precision. “

The KCNA report on Saturday’s plenary meeting made no mention of North Korea’s nuclear capability, missile tests, the United States or South Korea.

However, Kim reaffirmed the principle of “power in power”, which “will not yield an inch”, in the defense of national sovereignty, and presented the military tasks for the North Korean forces and the research department on the defense, KCNA said.

Who is Choe Son Hui?

Born in 1964 in Pyongyang, Choe is the daughter of former North Korean Prime Minister Choe Yong Rim, according to data from South Korea’s Unification Ministry.

She first appeared in the media in 1997 as an interpreter for North Korean delegates in the four-party nuclear negotiations with its neighbors. She rejoined the negotiation again during the Six Party Talks in the 2000s.

Choe played a key role in North Korea’s summits with the United States, leading an aggressive negotiating effort aimed at former President Donald Trump’s U.S. leadership. His statements published on North Korean state media alternated between the threat of a “nuclear confrontation” and offers of dialogue.

She accompanied North Korean leader Kim to the summits in Singapore in 2018 and Hanoi a year later, sitting beside him at the negotiating table.

In her last statement in March last year, she demanded that the United States cease its “hostile policy” against North Korea, including its joint exercises with South Korea.


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