[US-NK Summit] Kim displays grip on military by having defense chief attend lunch

By Yonhap
  • Published : Jun 12, 2018 - 16:29
  • Updated : Jun 12, 2018 - 16:29

SINGAPORE -- The presence of North Korea's top military officer in leader Kim Jong-un's working lunch with US President Trump in Singapore on Tuesday had analysts puzzling over the motive for the move.

No Kwang-chol, North Korea's minister of the People's Armed Forces, drew media attention even before the start of the historic summit as the sole uniformed official in the entourages of either leader. The US delegation has no military figure.

No was promoted to minister from vice minister at the North's equivalent of a defense ministry in a military reshuffle in early June.

No's participation in the Kim-Trump lunch, along with other heavyweights like the North's No. 2 official Kim Yong-chol and leader Kim's sister Kim Yo-jong, again indicated that the North's defense chief was playing a significant role.

North Korea analysts say Kim may have wanted to display his tight grip on the military by having No join the lunch with Trump, regarded as part of the expanded summit attended by key figures from both sides.

US President Donald Trump, center, shakes hands with North Korean People`s Armed Forces Minister No Kwang-chol at the historic summit between the US and North Korea in Singapore on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

They speculated that the North's leader may also have shown confidence in his abilities to control the military's possible resistance to denuclearization, a key agenda item in the talks with Washington.

Domestically, Kim has probably sent a signal that the military has not been sidelined in the summit talks with the US, they said.

The North Korean military is known to have led the construction of nuclear test sites and the development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. Thus, many analysts have raised fears that the military could display discontent over the expected dismantlement of the North's nuclear weapons and missiles. (Yonhap)