N.Korean Ambassador to China Likely for the Chop

Ji Jae-ryong Ji Jae-ryong

North Korean Ambassador to China Ji Jae-ryong, a key confidant of ousted eminence grise Jang Song-taek, is likely to face a recall soon, diplomatic circles speculate.

One diplomatic source on Tuesday said Ji remains in Beijing and is expected to stay there until at least the second anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death on Dec. 17. At present, the embassy is flying the flag at half mast.

Ji stayed in Beijing during the first anniversary last year to receive guests offering their respects.

But his days in Beijing seem to be numbered. Ji first met Jang in the late 1970s, when he was appointed to head a youth socialist group under Jang's jurisdiction. They have been close ever since.

But some experts say Pyongyang is worried about harming its relations with Beijing should it recall Ji so soon after sacking Jang, who also has close ties with Chinese government officials.

Another factor is that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wishes to visit China and may need Ji's help. But a source said Ji "will eventually be dealt with."

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 11, 2013 12:29 KST