North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Choe Tae Bok Returns from PRC

Choe Tae-pok greets Wu Bangguo in Beijing on 1 December (Photo: Xinhua)

Choe Tae-pok, SPA Chairman CC KWP Secretary and Political Bureau Member, returned to to the DPRK over the weekend, completing his five-day trip to China.  Choe departed the DPRK last Tuesday (30 November) for Beijing.  Choe spent the last two days of his trip in Jilin Province, where he visited several factories and cultural sites including the Yuwen Middle School, a mandatory pilgrimage point for DPRK elites visiting Jilin.

On 1 December Choe met Wu Bangguo, his PRC counterpart at the Great Hall of the People.  There is also speculation of senior PRC officials traveling to the DPRK, possibly to meet with Kim Chong-il, however there has been no announcement about such a trip.  Choe visit to Bejing was also marked by the DPRK announcement that it will continue to enrich uranium and is constructing a light water reactor.

Asahi Shimbun reports:

Choe Thae Bok, a Politburo member and secretary in the Secretariat of the Workers’ Party of Korea, flew to Beijing for meetings with high-ranking Chinese officials.

One agenda item may be Pyongyang’s response to China’s proposal on Sunday to hold a special meeting of the lead delegates to the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Sources said Chinese officials would likely step up their diplomatic efforts after Japan, South Korea and the United States all but rejected the proposal, saying the timing wasn’t right.

Other diplomatic sources said Kim Yong Il, the director of the party’s International Department, also flew into Beijing on Tuesday on a separate flight for a hurried meeting.

Kim was met by a vehicle operated by the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and whisked away. He returned to the airport about 80 minutes later and flew to Cambodia as part of a multination visit to Southeast Asia.

Sources said Kim likely met with Wang Jiarui, the head of the International Department who has close ties with Kim. Wang was at the airport to board a plane for the United States for discussions with American officials.

Kim Yong-il’s remarks in Cambodia were primarily about the DPRK’s environmental policies, but he did address the KPA’s attack on YP-do on 23 November.  KCNA reports:

After giving a detailed account of the fact that the DPRK has directed great efforts to environmental protection, he declared that the WPK and the DPRK government would boost cooperation with international organizations and other countries in the efforts to settle the issue of global environmental protection and climate change.

Stable environment in the vicinity of the country presents itself as the most urgent issue at present in the WPK’s activities for developing national economy and promoting the people’s well-being, he said, adding that outsiders’ interference and constant threat of the forces hostile to the DPRK persist on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity even in the 21st century after the demise of the Cold War.

He continued:

The ulterior aim sought by south Korea in perpetrating the recent provocations against the DPRK around Yonphyong Island, the sensitive waters along the maritime boundary line in the West Sea of Korea, was to make the public believe that the DPRK recognized the waters off Yonphyong Island as “territorial waters” of south Korea in case the former does not take any physical counter-action. The DPRK, however, has neither recognized them nor will do so in the future, too.



An affiliate of 38 North