“Who is your boss?” The North Korean ambassador replies…
On October 21, DPRK Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Jang Il-hun spoke at a seminar hosted by the Council of Foreign Relations. During the Q&A session, he was asked by a member of the audience, “Who told you to go ahead and talk to us at the Council of Foreign Relations?”
Jang attempted to laugh over the question, saying it was difficult to answer. The question was then asked in a simpler form, “Right now, who is your boss?” In a rather peculiar fashion, Jang answered, “I’d like to say my boss is someone in a department responsible for American affairs. So I wouldn’t say any person.” (italics added)
He was pressed again, “It is not, then, Kim Jong-un?” In an even stranger turn, Jang interrupted as if to answer the question despite the moderator’s signal to change the topic, and begun to talk about another issue.
Under Kim Jong-il’s rule, Jang Il-hun’s public avoidance of professing the living Kim’s supreme authority would have amounted to a blunder beyond the pale for a North Korean diplomatic representative. Jang would have had to be recalled immediately to Pyongyang for interrogation; and fellow cadres in the international section of the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs would also have had to be subject to surveillance and serious political investigations at the initiation of the OGD deputies in corresponding charge.
A DPRK ambassador speaking on record did not adhere to those principles that had long been savagely and mutually enforced, for maintaining and safeguarding a system of elite politics whereby unchallengeable authority for command and ratification must be vested in the ruling Kim alone.
Below is a clip from the seminar hosted by the Council of Foreign Relations on October 21, showing Jang Il-hun’s exchange.
▲Original video: Council of Foreign Relations
Korean subtitles provided by New Focus International
Read in Korean.
Translated by Haeryun Kang. Edited by Shirley Lee.
Featured image: Ahn Young-joon, AP