Following the execution of Jang Song Taek, one of the more radical changes to take place in DPRK policy is in calling everyone back home.
Originally Kim Jong Un ordered all North Korean businessmen to return from China. It was believed this was to scrutinize (and punish) those associated most closely with the disgraced Song Taek. Song Taek’s execution was particularly odious to China, as he had cultivated a prosperous and vigorous relationship with Beijing; his death was, to them, a gesture not unlike severing the phone line between North and South Korea.
Earlier this month, North Korea’s ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong Chol, was recalled. As you may have guessed by the name, he is the Uncle Jang’s nephew, the second son of Song Taek’s oldest brother, making him a kind of cousin-in-law to Supreme Leader. One week prior to Song Taek’s execution, Yong Chol had been seen on an Air Koryo flight from Kuala Lumpur with his wife and two mid-20s sons. He had been appointed to Malaysia in 2010, transferring from his duty in Nepal before his assignment there was completed.
Now their ambassador to Sweden, Pak Kwang Chol, has been ordered to return to the fatherland. At best, Kwang Chol can only be described as an associate of Uncle Jang’s. On October 8 he presented his credentials to President Grímsson of Iceland; he did the same to Latvian President Bērziņš one year ago this month.
As a side note, Sweden was where Song Taek’s son, Kim Song, went to school, while Kim Jong Un and his oldest brother, Jong Chol, studied in Switzerland.
- Dec. 31—”North Korea’s deputy delegate to UNESCO Hong Yong was spotted yesterday at the Beijing Airport prior to boarding an Air Koryo flight bound for Pyongyang.”
- Early December—North Korea’s ambassador to Cuba, Jon Yong Jin, was recalled. He had been stationed in Havana Feb. 7, 2012. Yong Jin is married to Song Taek’s elder sister; nepotism abounds. Prior to Cuba he had served as top envoy to Iceland and Sweden.
- Feb. 27, 2014—DPRK denies having any information behind the disappearance of Pak Kwang Chol since he returned to North Korea from his assignment in Sweden, suggesting he’s on extended vacation, and that it’s not their job to keep track of everyone all the time.