Navigating Dangerous Waters: The 1994 North Korean Nuclear Crisis
This Living History interview features Ambassador Chung Chong Wook. Ambassador Chung served as the Republic of Korea’s ambassador to China from 1996 to 1998 and as a senior secretary to President Kim Young-sam for national security and foreign policy from 1993 to 1994. While serving in government, he witnessed and was involved in a series of dramatic and rapid developments in inter-Korean relations and U.S. policy toward North Korea.
In this interview, Ambassador Chung describes his experience serving as senior secretary to the president for national security and foreign policy during the summer of 1994. This period was marked by a series of critical events in U.S.-ROK relations and negotiations over North Korea’s emerging nuclear program. Ambassador Chung also recounts his personal experience serving as ambassador to China when Hwang Jang-yop sought asylum in Beijing in 1997. Hwang Jang-yop was a key figure in the creation of North Korea’s predominant state ideology, “Juche”, and the highest-ranking official to ever defect from the country at that time. Hwang had also previously served as the president of Kim Il-Sung University and secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK). During that crucial period in the late 1990s, Ambassador Chung played an instrumental role in securing Hwang Jang-yop’s safe passage to South Korea. Please see below for more on this unique and personal interview with Ambassador Chung Chong Wook.
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