Kim’s Russian trip publicized from the very start

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Kim’s Russian trip publicized from the very start

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il prepares to sign a guest book in Novobureisky yesterday. Kim Ok, a former secretary who is now known as the country’s unofficial first lady, is in the photo released by Russian media. [YONHAP]


North Korean leader Kim Jong-il yesterday headed for the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude, a venue for a midweek summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev according to Russia’s media, a day after he embarked on a rare trip to his former cold war ally.

The North’s state media gave early confirmation of the trip, Kim’s first to Russia since 2002, calling it a “historic occasion.”

Kim’s armored train crossed into the Russian border city of Khasan on Saturday morning, where Viktor Ishayev, presidential envoy to the Far Eastern region of the Russian Federation, welcomed Kim at the train station, the Korean Central News Agency reported on Sunday.

The KCNA added that the destination for Kim’s tour, made at the invitation of Medvedev, would be Siberia and the Far Eastern region.

It did not give a detailed itinerary, but it was rare for the North Korean media to report on an overseas trip by Kim before it was concluded and the “Dear Leader” had returned home safely.

“The general’s visit to Russia will be a historic moment” that will strengthen and develop friendship between the two countries, KCNA said.

The Russian government also confirmed Kim’s visit in a statement Saturday, saying its highlight would be a summit between Kim and Medvedev. No details were announced about the meeting, although word circulated that it would be held in Ulan-Ude, a large city in the Buryatia region located around 5,550 kilometers (3,450 miles) east of Moscow.

Russian regional media Portamur.ru reported that Kim left for Ulan-Ude at 3 p.m. Korean time yesterday from Russia’s Far Eastern Amur region, where he stopped for four hours.

According to Portamur.ru, Kim’s train arrived at 10:30 a.m. local time in Amur, where he toured the Bureiskaya hydroelectric power plant, one of the nation’s largest.

Russia is suggesting the Bureiskaya power plant as a main source of electricity in a bid to link itself with North and South Korea through a hydroelectric project.

Cooperation on the hydroelectric project, along with a railway project and gas pipeline, has been called for by Russia for years as a way of enhancing trilateral relations, reiterated by Medvedev in a letter to Kim early this month.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently said Moscow was talking with Pyongyang and Seoul separately about a gas pipeline through the Korean Peninsula.

Kim’s trip to Russia is seen by some analysts as an effort to balance its diplomatic dependence on China. Kim made three visits to China in slightly over a year through May, on which he was alleged to have requested economic aid from Chinese leader Hu Jintao.

The Russia trip also comes as the impoverished North gets more desperate in seeking food aid, particularly after summer flooding.

Kim Kye-gwan is among the Pyongyang officials that KCNA announced were accompanying Kim Jong-il to Russia.

Kim Yong-chun, North Korea’s defense chief, Kang Sok-Ju, vice premier, and Jang Song-Thaek, vice head of the National Defense Commission, were also on the list. Kim Ok, a former secretary who is now known as the country’s unofficial first lady, was also seen in a photo released by Russian media of Kim Jong-il in Amur yesterday.

Kim made a four-day visit to Russia’s Far Eastern region in 2002 at the invitation of then-President Vladimir Putin.

A year earlier, he toured major cities in Russia, including Moscow, for 24 days.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]



한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

[김정일, 9년 만에 러시아 방문] ‘연두색 여인’ 김옥 이번에도 수행

김정은 안 보여 … 수행명단에도 없어

북한 관영 매체가 21일 공개한 김정일의 러시아 방문 수행원은 모두 12명. 후계자인 3남 김정은은 수행명단에 포함되지 않았다. 명단에 오르진 않았지만 김옥이 지난 5월 중국 방문에 이어 이번에도 수행했다. 김옥은 김정일의 부인 고영희가 2004년 사망한 이후 퍼스트레이디 역할을 해왔다. 김정일의 건강 문제를 챙기고 있을 가능성이 있다. 중국 방문 때 연두색 옷차림이었던 김옥은 이번에도 연두색 정장을 입어 눈길을 끌었다. 김영재 주러 대사와 심국룡 나홋카 총영사를 제외한 10명 가운데 경제 전문가가 5명으로 이번 방문이 북·러 간 경제 문제에 초점이 맞춰져 있음을 엿보게 한다.

 노동당 비서로 수행원에 포함된 태종수(총무 담당)는 대안중기계연합기업소 책임비서 등을 지낸 실물경제 전문가다. 또 박도춘(군수 담당)은 군수분야에 밝 다. 각각 함경남도와 자강도의 당 책임비서로 일하다 지난해 김정일에 의해 발탁됐다. 당 기계공업부장인 주규창도 핵·미사일 개발 등을 책임진 군수 전문가다. 정부 당국자는 “러시아로부터의 군사무기 도입 이 논의될 수도 있다”고 말했다. 오수룡 함북 당 책임비서는 러시아와 맞닿은 지역 책임자 자격으로 수행한 것으로 보인다. 직권남용 등으로 2007년 4월 총리에서 해임돼 순천비날론 지배인으로 쫓겨났다 지난해 당 제1부부장으로 복귀한 박봉주도 수행원에 포함됐다.

 김정일의 매제인 장성택 국방위 부위원장과 김양건 당비서는 대풍그룹 등 대북 투자유치를 맡고 있다는 점에서 관심을 끈다. 일각에서는 당 대남 비서인 김양건이 러시아 천연가스관의 남북 관통 문제 때문에 수행원에 포함됐다는 관측도 내놓는다. 강석주 부총리와 김계관 외무성 제1부상은 6자회담을 조율하는 일을 맡을 것으로 보인다. 군부에선 김영춘 인민무력부장이 유일하게 포함됐다.  

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