South Korea's spy chief Kim Kyou-hyun makes unannounced trip to Washington

    National Intelligence Service Director Kim Kyou-hyun made an unannounced visit to Washington on Tuesday to discuss a possible nuclear test by North Korea.

    He was spotted walking out of Washington's Dulles Airport Tuesday as aides tried to shield him from view with large umbrellas. The moment was captured by Yonhap News Agengy and released on Tuesday.

    Kim was likely scheduled to meet with Avril Haines, director of national intelligence, and William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, according to Yonhap.

    The trip takes place amid signs North Korea is preparing for a nuclear test, based on satellite images of its Punggye-ri nuclear testing site, the site of all six previous nuclear tests.

    Pyongyang made 31 ballistic missile launches since Jan. 1, the most it has ever launched in a single year, including an intercontinental ballistic missile on May 25. Its previous record was 25 missiles in 2019.

    National Intelligence Service Director Kim Kyou-hyun in a National Assembly hearing on May 25. [KIM SEONG-RYONG]

    Kim was also expected to discuss supply chain issues including cooperation on chip-making, and other issues such as American policy towards the Indo-Pacific region and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.  

    Kim and Burns met several times during the Barack Obama administration when Burns was a deputy secretary of state and Kim was a vice foreign minister. They had at least one meeting in 2013 and one in 2014.

    Kim may discuss with Burns and Haines the recent controvery over the forced repatriation of two North Korean fishermen in November 2019.  


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    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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