S. Korea sends envoys to China, Japan to explain Pyongyang visit

By Jung Min-kyung
  • Published : Sept 9, 2018 - 16:25
  • Updated : Sept 9, 2018 - 18:10

South Korea is working to bolster cooperation in regional security with China and Japan, briefing them on the outcome of its envoys recent trip to Pyongyang, as it hopes to see the early resumption of denuclearization talks between the US and North Korea.

Chung Eui-yong, President Moon Jae-in’s top security adviser, returned from his one-day trip to China on Saturday, after briefing Yang Jiechi, a ranking member of China’s Communist Party in charge of foreign affairs, on the outcome of his recent visit to North Korea. 

Japanese Peime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, right. (Yonhap)

“China has spoken highly of the outcomes of the delegation’s latest visit to North Korea,” Chung told a group of reporters at Gimpo Airport, upon returning from Beijing.

“(Yang) and I have decided to work on arranging a meeting between Presidents Moon Jae-in and Xi Jinping in line with the multi-party meeting scheduled for the latter half of the year and to continue to cooperate on making Xi’s official visit to South Korea as early as possible,” he said, alluding to the upcoming APEC and ASEAN summits in November.

Chung also said the two sides have agreed to hold additional security talks if necessary.

Chung’s trip to China comes on the heels of his North Korea trip, where he met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as Moon’s special envoy. Chung received a message from Kim intended for US President Donald Trump, which according to Cheong Wa Dae, was conveyed to US national security adviser John Bolton on Thursday.

In his meeting with Chung, Kim also said he wants to finalize the road map to remove all nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula by the end of Trump’s first term.

The trip came nearly a week after Trump accused China of complicating the US’ relationship with North Korea amid stalled nuclear talks.

With its decades-old political ties with Pyongyang and the economic clout it holds over North Korea, China is viewed as a key player in the international community’s efforts to achieve the North’s denuclearization.

There are concerns, however, that the global powers may be using the “North Korea issue” as strategic means to throw each other off balance in the trade war between Washington and Beijing.

In a manner similar to Chung’s Beijing trip, Suh Hoon, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, headed to Japan on Sunday to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday regarding the delegation’s Pyongyang trip. Suh was part of the five-member delegation led by Chung.

Japan has been struggling to be a part of North Korea’s denuclearization process. Critics say it has yet to establish a solid position at the negotiation table.

“For Japan, the issue of Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s is a matter that is equal in urgency to denuclearization ... and North Korea’s nuclear issue is something that threatens its regional security, so it is making efforts to resolve it,” Baek Jong-chun, a former South Korean national security adviser, said in an opinion piece published in a local newspaper Friday.

By Jung Min-kyung (