North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Yonhap on KJI China Trip & Premier Kim Yong-il meets new PRC Ambassador

Yonhap has decided to get in on the KJI China trip action.  Citing an anonymous source and consulting some VIP calendars, Yonhap reports that Kim Jong-il may visit China later this month.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is likely to visit China later this month, a diplomatic source said Wednesday, a trip that could boost the prospect of resuming international talks on ending Pyongyang’s nuclear programs.

“Considering the schedules of top Chinese leaders, there is a high possibility of Chairman Kim visiting China sometime between March 25-30,” a source said on condition of anonymity, referring to Kim’s official title, chairman of the National Defense Commission.

A senior South Korean politician, who wants to visit China late this month for a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, is expected to put the plan off, possibly because of Kim’s trip, the source said. When the North’s leader has visited China in the past, Beijing made sure that the schedule of its top leader did not overlap with other schedules.

Meanwhile, it seems that the Central Party has removed DPRK Premier Kim Yong-il re-education training wheels.  Either in preparation for the KJI trip or attending to the routine cleaning of the DPRK-PRC lips and teeth relationship, the new Chinese Ambassador Liu Hongcai visited with Premier Kim and Vice Premier and Chairman of the State Planning Commission (GOSPLAN) Ro Tu-chol.  The visit occurred a week after Ambassador Liu presented his credentials  to SPA President and official head of state Kim Yong-nam.

Premier Kim Yong Il welcomed Ambassador Liu for the assumption of his new office in the DPRK, saying that Ambassador Liu had paid attention to DPRK-China relationship when he was working in China, and that he believed Ambassador Liu would, as always, make contributions to the development of the DPRK-China friendly and cooperative relationship during his term of office.

Kim Yong Il spoke highly of the current development in the Sino-DPRK friendly and cooperative relationship.

He said: In 2009, the DPRK and China celebrated the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic ties and the DPRK-China friendship year, which enabled the peoples of the two countries to have a better understanding of the history and tradition of the friendship between the DPRK and China. Thanks to the kind concern of the top leaders of the two countries, the friendly and cooperative relations between the DPRK and China have maintained the good development trend since the beginning of this year. The DPRK people will never forget the material and spiritual support provided by the Chinese party and government to the DPRK’s socialist construction over a long period of time. It is an unswerving stand of the DPRK party and government to continuously consolidate and develop the DPRK-China friendly and cooperation relationship, and the DPRK will devote its utmost efforts to it.

Kim Yong Il gave a brief overview of the DPRK’s domestic situation, highly appreciated the tremendous achievements in the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics that the Chinese people had won under the leadership of the CPC, and wished the Shanghai World Expo a success.

Kim Yong-il and Ro Tu-chol were not the only members of the leadership to meet the new Chinese Ambassador.  Ambassador Liu met later in the week with KWP Secretary Kim Ki-nam, United Front Department Director Kim Yang-gon and KWP International Department China specialist (and KJI interpreter) Kim Song-nam.  In a separate meeting Ambassador Liu met with NDC Member and Minister of Public Security, General Ju Sang-song.  Gen. Ju visited in Beijing in late 2009.

KWP Secretary Kim Ki-nam (1st from left) greets PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai (right), along with United Front Department Director Kim Yang-gon and KWP International Department official Kim Song-nam.

National Defense Commission Member and Minister of Public Security, General Ju Sang-song (right) greets Ambassador Liu.

An affiliate of 38 North