North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

New DPRK Ambassador to China Arrives in Beijing

A man who is believed to be North Koreas new ambassador to China, Ji Jae-ryong, is seen leaving an airport upon his arrival in Beijing on Oct. 26. (Yonhap)

The PRC Foreign Ministry announced that Ji Jae Ryong, the DPRK’s new ambassador to China, arrived in Beijing today (26 October).  Ji is tied to Jang Song Taek (NDC Vice Chairman; director of party administration; Kim Kyong Hui’s husband).  Prior to his appointment, Ji was serving as a deputy director in the CC KWP Information and Publicity Department.  Ji replaced Choe Pyong Gwan.  Choe served as ambassador from April 2010 to October 2010 and returned to his home country this past Saturday.

Xinhua reports on Ji’s arrival:

“DPRK’s new ambassador Ji Jae Ryong arrived in Beijing on Oct. 26,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said at a regular press briefing.

Former ambassador Choe Pyong Gwan had returned to the DPRK, he said.

Prior to his appointment as ambassador to China, Ji was vice director of the publicity department of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

Ji once served as ambassador to the former Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. He was vice director of the international department of the WPK central committee from 1996 to 2004. He was elected an alternate member of the WPK central committee last month.

Yonhap reports about the official announcement of Ji’s appointment and his arrival in the Chinese capital:

Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency carried a brief dispatch on the appointment of Ji Jae-ryong as ambassador to Beijing. It gave no details, including why Ji’s predecessor, Choe Pyong-gwan, was replaced after just six months.

Sources in China had told Yonhap News Agency on Sunday that Choe left for Pyongyang after paying farewell visits to Chinese foreign ministry officials Saturday, and that Ji would succeed him.

On Tuesday, a man who is believed to be the new ambassador was seen arriving in Beijing and leaving the airport in a North Korean embassy car.

Ji’s appointment could be related to North Korea’s efforts to strengthen the standing of leader Kim Jong-il’s youngest son and heir apparent, Kim Jong-un, because Ji is said to be close to Jang Song-thaek, the leader’s brother-in-law who is considered a guardian of the young successor.

An affiliate of 38 North