Why Has North Korea Decided to Talk Now?

Why Has North Korea Decided to Talk Now?

In this Oct. 9, 2010 file photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Kim Jong Un, the third son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, applauds while watching the Arirang mass games performance staged to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Associated Press)
In this Oct. 9, 2010 file photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Kim Jong Un, the third son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, applauds while watching the Arirang mass games performance staged to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea, in Pyongyang, North Korea. (Associated Press)

(CNN) — With Kim Jong Un still out of sight, North Korean officials have gone on a publicity blitz — making a rare move to take questions at the United Nations, arranging human rights talks with the European Union, and taking a high-level trip to South Korea.

The overtures come at a time when its human rights record has received increased scrutiny. Pyongyang’s charm offensive has raised questions of what the regime seeks and what could be happening in the country’s inner circle.

While Ri Tong Il, the North Korean deputy ambassador declined to respond to questions about Kim’s health on Tuesday, he gave some clues to what may be behind the country’s rare willingness to take reporters’ questions.

Citing over 40 different sanctions against North Korea, he said: “This is the most brutal sanction throughout the world. No country… has been living under these sanctions.

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