Talks between North Korean and Mongolia held

Talks took place the talks here Tuesday between Ri Ryong Nam, minister of Foreign Trade who doubles as chairman of the DPRK side to the Inter-governmental Committee for Consultation in Economy, Trade, Science and Technology between the DPRK and Mongolia, and Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga who is chairman of the Mongolian side to the Committee. Ri Ryong Nam signd already some agreements with the Mongolian side.

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Reception Given at the DPRK Embassy in Moscow

According to the North Korean News Agency, a reception was given at the DPRK embassy in Moscow on March 14 on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the agreement on economic and cultural cooperation between the DPRK and the Russian Federation.

Among those present on invitation were officials of the government, political parties, organs and organizations of Russia.

They included Vice Foreign Minister of Russia Igor Morgulov, a vice-minister of Far Eastern Regional Development, the chairman of the Russia-DPRK Friendship Parliamentary Group of the State Duma and those of the State Duma, Russian Federal Council, United Russia Party, Communist Party of the Russian Federation, “A Just Russia”, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, Party for Peace and Unity of Russia, Ministry of Economy and Development, Ministry of Regional Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Culture, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Russia, “Russian Railways” Company, “Mostovik” Scientific-industrial Company of Russia, Institute of the Far East, Russian news agency Ria-Novosti and the Russian Association for Friendship and Cultural Cooperation with the DPRK.

kim jong jae

Kim Yong Jae (source: Yonhap News)

Present there were Kim Yong Jae, DPRK ambassador to Russia, and his embassy staff members.

Commentary: Kim Yong Yae (a former MOFA official) is not only a long-term ambassador to Russia. He’s also a member of the Kim family. Interestingly Kim family members who are ambassadors are staying for a long time in countries where they are accredited.

Kim Pyong Il (born in 1954-uncle par alliance to Kim Jong Eun / DPRK ambassador to Poland): In Poland since january 1998.

Kim Kwang Sop (born in 1952 – uncle par alliance to Kim Jong Eun / DPRK ambassador to Austria): In Austria since february 1993.

Kim Yong Jae (born in 1952-uncle par alliance to Kim Jong Eun / DPRK ambassador to Russia): In Poland since september 2006.

Interestingly all are born in the 50’s. They also kept their working positions in spite of the Jang Sung Thaek’s purge.

The education of North Korean via the organization of the Choson Exchange [SECOND PART]

  1. The selection of students

Andray Abrahamian reminded me about the fact those European scholars who are welcoming North-Koreans students are sometimes more interested in speaking about the Juche Ideology than in getting a top-level education. However, and based upon his affirmation, North-Koreans students who are studying in Beijing are always at the top of their classes: therefore where is the problem? In order to identify and to avoid the issue I presented earlier, a right selection has to be performed. Choson Exchange is conducting and is generally pleased with the quality of our candidates. The candidates are generally under the age of 30. They’re able to talk in English and come mainly from Pyongyang. Given the high costs of full-length academic programs and the limited number of people “Choson Exchange” is able to invest its funds in only the “best and brightest persons.”

  1. Outlining its realizations

Choson Exchange realized various programs for North Koreans students. Some North-Koreans were sent to Singapore (Singapore is a place which was always favored by the North-Koreans leadership- Kim Il Sung wanted to create a second Singapore within North Korea).

, China and other parts of the world where they had an access to tutors and fellow who educate the young North Koreans in the following fields:

– Fiscal Optimization (Adjustments and optimizations in Fiscal Operations in the FDI field);

– Banking Institutions (cooperation with foreign entities, development of joint ventures, laws debriefing, development of a legal context for FDI in North Korea);

– Corporate Finance (Income Statements, calculation of some ratios…)

– Accounting (Balance Sheet, Assets, Ratios calculations…)

According to some documents provided by the Choson Exchange, we can notice that the faculty of finances of the Kim Il Sung University which is existing in North Korea since only 2010, is providing some bright students.

  1. Problems of the Choson Exchange:

The Choson Exchange is facing a large number of issues concerning the realization of its problems. However a big asset lying on their hands is the fact, that the management team of this organization is still the same since a few years and believes in the future of the project. Therefore these proactive people (I think especially to Andray Abrahamian and Geoffrey See – other cannot be omitted) will be able to cope with this challenge especially taking in account the harsh reality of North Korea.

Considering education institutions, Choson Exchange members noticed that foreign books, research journals are not used by academics and scholars[1].  Some foreign journals are available, however there are or old, either not actual. Due to a lack of funds, North-Koreans libraries are accepting foreign donations (in terms of books).

There is also a lack of transparence concerning the information. Concerning the Curriculum of some professors, Choson Exchange had no access to this kind of information. Professors and scholars are publishing, however mainly on internal economical education publications[2].  Some interesting related to the new North-Koreans economy can be found in these kinds of North-Koreans journals.

  1. Possible grounds for the development of the project

Choson exchange is also lacking some funds which may guarantee the viability of the project. This organization is functioning thanks to funds which are coming from various sources. Being not affiliated to the Choson Exchange, I strongly however encourage investing in the activities of the Choson Exchange.


While it is important to help the future North Korean elites, however, I believe it’s ever more important to pursue the formation of a new North Korean elite group. Those can be educated by organizations such as Choson Exchange. I also guess that Choson Exchange should develop its wonderful initiatives inside North Korea because potential elites such as intellectuals who were educated in North Korea know well about the reality of the country, but they face a lot of obstacles in learning modern knowledge. It is an important issue because North-Koreans higher-education reforms will affect not only the future of North-Koreans elites but also the future of the rest of the country and of the society who will get a profit of the situation.

Keywords: North Korea, Education, Reunification, Nation-Building, Trust, Cooperation, China, South Korea, Choson Exchange, Banking Institutions, Geoffrey See, Andray Abrahamian, Daesong Bank, JVIC, Choe Thae Bok, Elites, Kim family

Nicolas Levi

Nicolas Levi is a researcher at the Polish Academy of Sciences and an analyst on Korean Issues at the Poland Asia Research Center ( Holding a PhD regarding the North-Koreans leadership, his personal website ( focuses on North Korea issues. Member of the Réseau Asie et Pacifique (a French association focused on Asian issues). He has overseen the publications of a wide range of analyses. Prestented to the public through media outlets including the British Association of Korean Studies,, Foreign Policy, New Focus International, Newsweek Polska,…

[1] In 2007, I had the pleasure and the occasion to be in North Korea at the National Library. When I was presented some foreign journals and books, this literature was published in the 70’s and was originally coming from the Soviet Union. The North Korean libraries are receiving books from Foreign Institutions on a regular basis; however these books are being kept away and are only used by selected students and scholars. These “selected students” are generally, but not always, directly connected to the top North-Koreans leadership.

[2]According to Dr Curtis Melvin ( “Thompson Reuters, a rating agency of scientific findings, announced NK has published 187 papers in reputable science journals between 2000 and 2012. Reviewing the publication history, from 2000 to 2006 NK scientists annually published articles abroad totaling in the single digits–except in 2004. However, Reuters reports that since 2007 that the annual average has increased to 28 publications per year. Of the publications in these foreign journals, 77.5% (or 145) of the publications were joint-research with foreign researchers. Of these joint-research projects, 61.4% (or 89) publications were with the Chinese. This is followed by Germans (27 publications), Australians (9 publications), South Korean (8 publications), American (7 publications) and Japan (5 publications). The reporting agency claims that the reason why so few NK research was published in international academic journals is that NK lack the appropriate English (communication or writing; it’s not specific) skills.” This text was published in on the 25th May 2012. North-Koreans scholars should be also encouraged to publish abroad via foreign scholars. I’m actually trying to run this kind of projects.

Sizing Up Chinese Ambassadors in Pyongyang

Liu studied in Dalian but his ties to the Liaoning elite which is currently so embattled by the Bo Xilai affair would appear to be no greater or less than those of other Chinese elites.  (For SinoNK’s 2012 analysis of how the leadership changes and upheaval in Beijing might impact China’s relations with North Korea, see here, here, here, and here.) As our present author notes, Liu was chosen to represent China in North Korea precisely because he was such an Anglophile and did not have deep ties to North Korea prior to his posting. He left North Korea precisely at the point when Kim Jong Il’s health took a turn for the worse and took up the ambassadorship in the UK — the country which, Levi notes, takes on the largest number of North Korean refugees in all Europe. In neither case does Levi believe the link is merely coincidental. 

The current ambassador, Liu Hongcai, is far less debonair than his predecessor, and rather than a diplomatic pedigree, is a dyed-in-the-wool apparachik with some 20 years of experience in various Chinese provinces. His patronage network in the PRC still needs more research, but so too, as Levi notes, does the Ambassador’s activities for the two weeks after the death of Kim Jong Il, when the Chinese Embassy gave no public signs of operation.  Only in early January did he reemerge, and then primarily at North Korean cultural events, a rather odd set of circumstances for the Ambassador of North Korea’s putative only ally and supporter.  The only known meeting between the Ambassador and Kim Jong Un (who had multiple times prior to the Dear Leader’s death) since the New Year was on Kim Jong Un’s way out of an immense, East-Is-Red-meets-Jean-Baptiste-Lully concert where the mantle of legitimacy and greatness was heavy upon Kim’s figurative shoulders, and the Chinese Ambassador slumped down, shrinking his qi in true Confucian style.  But that image and that encounter are properly the story for another day. Avant, tout suite! — Adam Cathcart, Chef redacteur (Berlin)

Les deux derniers ambassadeurs chinois en Corée du Nord: une comparaison de personnalités

by Nicolas Levi

Durant quelques années, Liu Xiaoming né en 1956, était l’ambassadeur chinois en Corée du Nord entre 2006 et 2009. Celui-ci avant sa nomination ne disposait que d’une expérience très limité concernant la Corée du Nord. Pourquoi celui-ci a donc été nominé ? Son absence d’expérience nord-coréenne (il a uniquement étudié à Dalian, ville à 300 kilomètres de Pyongyang, la capitale nord-coréenne) est palliée  par un fort savoir relatif aux Etats-Unis. Homme à l’anglais parfait, il à non seulement étudié aux Etats-Unis à l’école Fletcher du Droit et de la Diplomatie mais a également travaillé longtemps au sein de l’ambassade de Chine à Washington ainsi qu’au sein du département Amérique du Nord et Océanie du Ministère chinois des Affaires Etrangères. Avant sa nomination, cela faisait cependant 5 ans qu’il n’exerçait aucune fonction liée directement aux Etats Unis. En effet entre 2001 et 2006, il fut entre autre employé au sein du Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, vice-gouverneur de la province Gansu et ambassadeur de la Chine en Egypte.

Il est à noté qu’il est le premier ambassadeur chinois qui naquit après la Guerre de Corée. Cela signifie qu’il appartient à la nouvelle génération des hommes politiques chinois.

Liu Xiaoming, former ambassador to the DPRK, celebrates the opening of a Confucius Institute at King’s College London, October 22, 2010 | Image courtesy King’s China Institute

Pourquoi un tel changement ? Pourquoi placer à Pyongyang un diplomate et non un apparatchik ? Cela fut sans doute dû à  la volonté de placer quelqu’un de neutre en poste à  Pyongyang afin de faire comprendre à la Corée du Nord que la Chine est pro-américaine (concernant la politique nord-coréenne). Liu Xiaoming n’en fut pas moins apprécié par les élites nord-coréennes. Il est à noté que Liu Xiaoming a quitté la Corée du Nord au moment où les problèmes de santé de Kim Jong Il se sont aggravés. Une coincidence? Rien de moins sur. On peut imaginer que la Chine cherchait déjà par le biais d’un homme plus conservateur que son précédent à obtenir des informations concernant les futures élites nord-coréennes et leurs possibles plans futurs. La Chine aurait ainsi anticipé le futur décès du leader nord-coréen.

Qu’en est il actuellement de Liu Xiaoming ? Il exerce ses fonctions d’ambassadeurs en Grande Bretagne, la principale terre d’accueil des réfugiés nord-coréens en Europe… est ce à nouveau une coïncidence ?

Liu Hongcai |  Son remplaçant se nomme Liu Hongcai (né en 1955). Il est ambassadeur à Pyongyang depuis 2009. A la différence de son prédécesseur, il s’agit d’un apparatchik, d’une personne qui est plus proche des structures du parti communiste chinois que Liu Xiaoming qui fut quant à lui un diplomate. Liu Hongcai dispose en effet d’une expérience de plus de 20 ans dans les institutions ! La Chine a en effet beaucoup misé sur cet homme pour en apprendre sur Kim Jong Il. Résultat des courses ? Il s’agit d’un cuisant échec pour les chinois.

Chinese Ambassador Liu Hongcai, captivated, center, at the Kim Il Song Birthplace at Mangyongdae, Pyongyang, April 12, 2012 | Image via Chinese Embassy in the DPRK

Suite au décès de Kim Jong Il le 17 décembre 2011, il semblerait que l’ambassade de Chine ait cessé de fonctionner pendant deux semaines! Plus tard en 2012, l’ambassadeur de Chine fut même uniquement présent à des événements culturels relatifs à la Corée du Nord. Cela montre bien la manière avec laquelle les nord-coréens traitent les chinois. Je souhaiterais ici ajouter une remarque relative au décès de Kim Jong Il, suite à  son annonce le 17 décembre, la délégation chinoise (composé principalement de Hu Jintao, l’actuel président chinois et  de Xin Jinping, le futur numéro 1 chinois) qui se rendit à l’ambassade de Corée du Nord ne fut accueillit que par un secrétaire inconnu de l’ambassade nord-coréenne. Cela témoigne du mépris qu’a parfois la diplomatie nord-coréenne face à la diplomatie chinoise.

Pour en revenir aux ambassadeurs, les deux derniers changements opérés n’ont pas permis aux élites chinoises de se rapprocher de Kim Jong Il. Quelque soit l’ambassadeur chinois mis en place à Pyongyang, la Corée du Nord gardera ses secrets.

China Appoints ‘Pro-U.S.’ Ambassador to North Korea, Donga Ilbo, 9th September 2006.

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