June 12, 2018 12:40
The interpreter of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump had a daunting task to perform as he translated Trump's notoriously free-associating verbal style for his boss.
The previous day he had an easier task during Kim's meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who speaks simple English as a second language.
But the interpreter has some experience of Trump already, having served in talks between Kim's right-hand man Kim Yong-chol and Trump at the White House recently.
The White House identified him as Kim Ju-song from the North Korean Foreign Ministry.
Kim Ju-song was also by Kim Yong-chol's side when he visited South Korea for the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in February.
At the time, Trump's daughter Ivanka was officially visiting South Korea, as was Gina Haspel, the then deputy CIA chief, and Andrew Kim, the head of the CIA's Korea Mission Center.
"Kim Ju-song interpreted for Kim Yong-chol when he met with CIA officials," a source said. "It was then that talks about a summit started."
A defector who used to be a North Korean diplomat said, "Even though he was not trained as a professional translator, he was picked up because of his outstanding English proficiency."
In a memoir, Thae Yong-ho, the former No. 2 man in the North Korean Embassy in London and now a vocal critic of the regime, identified Kim Ju-song as an official working for the Workers Party's international affairs department.
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