[The Korea Times] ‘Kim Jong-un will not give up nukes’

Thae Yong-ho, former North Korean diplomat who defected to the South in 2016, salutes the South Korean national flag while attending a forum at the National Assembly, Monday. / Yonhap

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will not give up the state’s nuclear program, Thae Yong-ho, the former North Korean diplomat to the United Kingdom and defector to South Korea, said Monday.

He made the claim in a press conference at the National Assembly to mark the release of his book “Password from the Third Floor.”

“North Korea’s definition of denuclearization is different from the complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement we think of. It may reduce the scale of the nuclear weapons it possesses but its end goal is to be a nuclear state that appears to have denuclearized,” Thae said.

The former diplomat pointed out that Kim declared his nuclear weapons as a “strong sword and a firm means to guarantee the regime’s security” at a key meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, April 20.

“Why would he declare the definition of the regime’s nuclear weapons in such a way if he were to give them up?” Thae said.

In his book, Thae focuses on the fact the leaders of the North and South agreed on “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” and not on “North Korea’s denuclearization” at their April 27 summit.

He alleged the agreement on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a means to drive U.S. forces out of the South.

“Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula means the denuclearization of not only North Korea but the entire Korean Peninsula including South Korea. The U.S. is continuing drills for a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula and it can bring in nuclear weapons anytime. Only by our nuclear weapons will we be able to drive out those of the U.S. and this will only be possible when we are promised by the U.S. that it will not use nuclear weapons,” Thae cites North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as claiming, in his book.

Thae also rekindles Kim’s image as a brutal dictator, amid changing public perceptions in the South of the leader.

In live coverage of the inter-Korean summit, Kim was seen laughing and making jokes, which produced media reports and online public opinion on Kim’s “unexpectedly humane character.”

Thae states that Kim is “impatient, impulsive and violent-tempered” referring to the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek.

The book also mentions Kim’s ordered executions of personnel in charge of facilities he inspected on site, when management was found to be subpar.

The “Third Floor” in the title of the book refers to the third floor of the ruling Workers’ Party building.

South Korean envoys to Pyongyang including National Security Office chief Chung Eui-yong and National Intelligence Office director Suh Hoon met Kim there in March.

The book states the “clerical office” on the third floor, which even North Koreans are mostly unaware of, was disclosed to the South for the first time. North Korea also referred to this office in a report by its state news agency for the first time.

The office is similar to the office of the chief presidential secretary at Cheong Wa Dae, and is off-limits to officials of the Workers’ Party, according to Thae.

The former diplomat stated the purpose of this office is to maintain the idolization of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il and continue the hereditary rule.

This is done through the leader monopolizing information about state affairs within the office, the book said.

Thae is the highest-ranking North Korean official to have defected to the South. He defected from London where he served at the North Korean embassy to Seoul with his family in 2016. He is under the South Korean government’s protection.

Source: Kim Bo-eun The Korea Times