The top intelligence officials of the two Koreas met secretly in April after the North's spy chief was replaced following Feb.'s no-deal summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump, a government source confirmed Tuesday.
The person in the red circle in this photo taken on June 30, 2019, at the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone has been confirmed as Jang Kum-chol, new head of the United Front Department. (Yonhap)
The meeting between National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon and his North Korean counterpart, Jang Kum-chol, came right after Jang took over as chief of the North's United Front Department (UFD), the source said.
Jang replaced Kim Yong-chol, who served as the North's top interlocutor in nuclear negotiations with the United States. The replacement was seen as a move to hold Kim responsible for Feb.'s no-deal summit with the US.
The meeting between Suh and Jang was largely aimed at exchanging greetings between the spy chiefs.
During the meeting, Suh expressed hope for better inter-Korean relations, while Jang shared North Korea's take on the breakdown of the Feb. summit between Kim and Trump in Hanoi, the source said.
They did not discuss an inter-Korean summit, the source added.
Jang is barely known to the outside world. He is reportedly in his late 50s with a career of working for exchanges between the two Koreas.
His name was first mentioned by North Korean media in April, when it was reported that he was appointed a director at the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.
Seoul's intelligence agency said later in the same month that Jang had been appointed chief of the UFD, but the North has not officially confirmed it.
Jang made his first public appearance since then accompanying leader Kim on his visit to the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom later in June for a meeting with Trump. (Yonhap)