North Korea’s foreign minister has been replaced this week, Seoul-based NK News reported Saturday, in a move that could represent a major political shuffling and impact Pyongyang’s foreign policy.
The new minister will replace 38-year foreign relations veteran Ri Yong Ho, who had served as North Korea’s foreign minister since 2016.
Though his replacement was not identified, NK News reported that their identity will be unveiled on or before Jan. 23, when an event for resident diplomats is scheduled to take place.
Ri was Pyongyang’s top diplomat during a stretch of historic outreach from North Korea, often joining leader Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnBrent Budowsky: The patriotic duty of Senate Republicans US ambassador: ‘I was personally surprised’ North Korea did not send ‘Christmas gift’ Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump’s border wall MORE in recent years to summits with leaders from the U.S., South Korea, Russia, China and Cuba.
Prior to his role as foreign minister, Ri also served as ambassador in London and as vice foreign minister.
However, his departure from the government appeared to be foreshadowed by his absence from a group picture of top party officials earlier this month.
News of Ri’s replacement comes as the Yonhap News Agency reported that Pyongyang’s ambassadors to China and the United Nations were seen returning to North Korea.