The head of Chongryon, Japan’s main pro-North Korea body, failed to meet with leader Kim Jong Un during a month-long trip to Pyongyang, sources said.
Ho Jong Man, leader of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, as Chongryon is otherwise known, was hoping to meet with Kim during the trip, which was Ho’s first to the isolated country in eight years.
His failure to pull off an audience may fuel the argument that Chongryon’s influence in North Korea is on the decline.
The sources said Sunday that a senior government official provided Ho with a letter from Kim that apparently communicated guidance on Chongryon’s management policy.
Ho did not touch on the contents of the letter, and stopped short of mentioning the abduction issue and the pending sale of the Chongryon headquarters building in Tokyo, during a meeting on Friday to debrief senior Chongryon members about his trip.
Ho was accompanied by several Chongryon associates on his visit to North Korea. The delegation arrived in Pyongyang on Sept. 6 and wrapped up the visit on Oct. 7.
The trip was enabled by Japan’s easing of travel restrictions in July. The last such visit was in April 2006.
On his return to Japan, Ho told Chongryon members that Kim is “in great spirits.”