Joseph Yun, the State Department’s top North Korea envoy, has announced he will be retiring this week, just as Pyongyang finally signaled it would be ready for dialogue with the U.S. Yun, who has long argued for negotiations with North Korea rather than military action, told The Washington Post his retirement was his “own personal decision,” with his last day set to be Friday. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert confirmed the news, saying Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “reluctantly” accepted Yun’s decision to step down. His departure comes as the U.S. ambassadorship to South Korea remains vacant, leaving the State Department with a shortage of top officials on Korean issues after a year of saber-rattling and nuclear threats with Pyongyang. Yun announced his resignation just days after Kim Yong Chol, North Korea’s chief delegate to the Winter Olympics closing ceremony, told South Korean officials he’d be open to dialogue with the U.S.
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