N. Korea may create 1st vice FM post handling affairs with S. Korea: Seoul official

North Korea may create the post of first vice foreign minister in charge of affairs with South Korea, as the country has been pushing to abolish agencies in charge of inter-Korean ties, a Seoul official said Friday. Ko Young-hwan, a former North Korean diplomat who has become special adviser to South Korea's unification minister, said North Korea could appoint Ri Son-gwon, head of the United Front Department (UFD) of the ruling Workers' Party to the post. At a year-end party meeting, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un defined inter-Korean ties as relations "between two states hostile to each other" and ordered officials to disband agencies dealing with relations between the two Koreas. Last month, Kim dubbed South Korea as North Korea's "primary foe." North Korea's Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui and Ri attended a meeting in January to discuss ways to dismantle such agencies. Without mentioning his title, state media called Ri an official in charge of affairs with South Korea, fueling speculation that the UFD might have been abolished. "Veteran officials at the UFD could be transferred to the foreign ministry's units similar to the national unification department," Ko said at a forum in Seoul. The UFD has dealt with inter-Korean talks and North Korea's policy with South Korea, serving as a counterpart to Seoul's unification ministry. The national unification department at the foreign ministry is believed to have handled North Korea's inter-Korean policy until the mid-1990s.

RECENT POSTS