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[Opinion] The Website of the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang

[Opinion] The Website of the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang

Posted March. 06, 2007 07:15,   


The Chinese Embassy in Kinmaeul-dong, Moranbong District, Pyongyang, North Korea is the second largest embassy in the capital of North Korea after the Russian one. The still shabby-looking old building despite several restorations in the 1950s, all of a sudden, turned busy on March 4.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il visited the building accompanied by his major aides, including Secretary of the Labor Party Kim Ki Nam, first Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Kang Sok Joo, first Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong Chol, Korean People`s Army General Hyun Chol Hae, and Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong Il.

On the surface, it was a visit to reaffirm the North’s bilateral, long-established friendship on the occasion of first full moon on January 15. But more surprisingly, yesterday, the Chinese Embassy disclosed North Korean leader Kim’s visit to the embassy via its website (http://kp.china-embassy.org.chn/). A total of five photos were posted, including group and banquet scenes. Such a prompt posting is unusual indeed, but at the same time it is a sea change in that such an action is impossible without a prior concession from the North.

Liu Xiaoming (51), the new Chinese ambassador to North Korea since last September, who is an “America expert,” turned around the overall ambience in the embassy. Having graduated from Dalian University of Foreign Languages (DUFL) majoring in English, he is new face in the Chinese Foreign Ministry, as he has worked for a long time in the Chinese Embassy to the U.S. Unlike previous ambassadors, “North Korea experts” with experiences in the Korean War, he even announced his will to actively report on North Korea in an open-minded manner. As such, disclosure of Kim’s visit could be interpreted in the same vein.

Some say that the photos are a ploy by the DPRK and China to show off Kim’s ease and confidence. The North is promoting the “February 13 Beijing Consensus” as “the victory of General Kim Jong Il.” It is not hard to fathom because currently in New York, bilateral meetings for normalization of DPRK-U.S. relations are giving the North hope.

President Roh Moo-hyun pledged rice and fertilizer aid to the North, despite critics who are saying, “The aid is for North-South summit talks.” A reported announcement by the Korea Institute for National Unification even predicted two days ago that August 15 North-South summit talks will possibly become feasible. Does this mean Kim’s tactic of crying wolf is working for him?

Kim Chang-hyeok, Editorial Writer, chang@donga.com