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American diplomats and F.B.I. agents acknowledge that Robert “Bobby” Egan, owner of Cubby’s BBQ Restaurant in Hackensack, New Jersey, has managed over the last decade to turn himself into an important—if crazily unlikely—go-between for the United States in its ever-treacherous dealings with Pyongyang.
A 52-year-old New Jersey native who proudly acknowledges he grew up among mobsters and who speaks with the “dems-and-does” of a Tony Soprano, Egan tells The Daily Beast he has been in contact with North Korean officials dozens of times in recent weeks, and that he has been assured that the torpedo attack on a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors was a mistake.
“I was told this absolutely wasn’t authorized by Pyongyang,” Egan said of the March 26 attack on the warship.“It was something that happened on the local military level, and it was a mistake. When your hand is on the trigger for 60 years, every once in a while you’re going to have a misfire.”
Egan’s recent contacts, he said, include diplomats in the North Korean mission to the United Nations, a small suite of offices in midtown Manhattan that is that country’s sole diplomatic post in the United States, as well as several Koreans living in the New York area with high-level connections in Pyongyang.