North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

The French do Pyongyang


Kim Yong-nam greets Jack Lang (Photo: KCNA)

Jack Lang, Special Envoy of the President of France, arrived earlier this week in Pyongyang.  Mr. Lang  met with DPRK Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun on Tuesday, discussing “bilateral relations and a series of issues of mutual concern.”  On Thursday, Mr. Lang met with nominal head of state (and former KWP International Secretary) SPA Presidium President Kim Yong-nam and discussed the same series of issues of mutual concern.  France and Estonia are the only EU countries that do not have diplomatic relations with the DPRK.  After 1989, the DPRK retained most of its diplomatic relations with the former Warsaw Pact countries.  In 1993 and 1995 it made outreach efforts into Western Europe, not to mention implementing a joint venture law in 1984 which was bit of a dud.   The DPRK held its first working-level meetings with the EU in Brussels in 1998.  Between 2000 and 2001 it established diplomatic relations with Italy, UK, The Netherlands (hallo!) , Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg.

Perhaps, among the issues Mr. Lang discussed with his interlocutors was the Ryugyong Hotel which began construction in 1987, under the 1984 joint venture law, in collaboration with a French engineering firm.  The Ryugyong is most likely one reason for the diplomatic awkwardness between the DPRK and France.   It should also be noted that the Kim Family owns an apartment in Paris which, over the years, has accommodated Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-nam and the late Ko Yong-hui.

We can now wait to see if the black Mercedes rolls up to the Paekhwawon State Guest House, and see if Jack Lang has a meeting (and banquet?) with Kim Jong-il.




This article was written on 12 Nov 2009, and is filled under DPRK External Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ryugyong Hotel.

An affiliate of 38 North