Kim Jong Un Instructed Aide to Apologize for Media Coverage Restriction

Troy Young, April 6, 2018, 9:18 a.m.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to have instructed a ranking Pyongyang official to make his rare apology to South Korean reporters earlier this week for restricting their coverage of a concert by South Korean musicians in Pyongyang, the South's culture minister said Friday. "It would have been impossible for Vice Chairman Kim to come in person if there had not been somebody who told him to do so," Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Do Jong-whan said, appearing on a TBS radio program.

Do was referring to Kim Yong-chol, a vice chairman of the North's Workers' Party Central Committee who is concurrently in charge of the country's South Korean affairs.

He visited South Korean reporters at a Pyongyang hotel on Monday and asked for their understanding for abruptly being denied access to a theater where the performance by a South Korean art troupe was held.

"I got the impression that Kim Jong-un is a person who works in a very meticulous manner, checking everything whether big or small, given that he instructed his man to go quickly and seek understanding when such a thing happened."

Touching on the North Korean leader's proposal after the concert to hold another round of concerts in Seoul by the North's artists this autumn, Do said he could read Kim's aggressive will to resolve pending issues on the Korean Peninsula through his meetings with South Korean and U.S. presidents.

"We're expecting great events such as an inter-Korean summit and a North Korea-U.S. summit by autumn. I think he meant to say we should make the music exchange happen in Seoul this fall by achieving all of these things well," he explained.

"I, of course, don't know if this is going to happen and we cannot unconditionally be positive about the North Korea-U.S. summit talks. But I have interpreted his words as an expression that he at least has a will."

Do returned home early Wednesday from his four-day trip to Pyongyang leading a 186-member South Korean delegation of musicians and taekwondo practitioners. The South Koreans held rare performances in Pyongyang as a prelude to the historic inter-Korean summit scheduled for April 27 and in reciprocation to North Koreans' performance in the South in February in celebration of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

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