(From Korea JoonAng Daily)
By Kang Jin-Kyu
Won Tong-yon, a senior North Korean official with years of experience in inter-Korean relations, has disappeared from public view since last December, around the time of the publication of a memoir by former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak that mentioned a mission he was on.
Won, the vice head of the United Front Department of the Workers’ Party, has not been seen since he greeted Rep. Park Jie-won of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy in Kaesong last December to accept a wreath before the third anniversary of the death of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Won, who also led a delegation for high-level talks with South Korea in Kaesong in February 2014, is known for his dovish stance with Seoul.
Suspicion that Won has fallen victim to Kim Jong-un’s reign of terror was heightened earlier this month when he was not seen meeting Lee Hee-ho, the widow of former President Kim Dae-jung, in Pyongyang on her four-day trip there.
Ministry of Unification spokesman Jeong Joon-hee refused to confirm the fate of Won, saying that kind of information is classified.
If Won did get purged, he is likely to be undergoing so-called “revolutionary education,” probably doing hard labor outside the North Korean capital. Read more