North’s leader looking more likely to visit RussiaNorth Korean leader Kim Jong-un is looking increasingly likely to visit Russia, in what would be his first trip abroad since taking power three years ago, giving the world an unprecedented chance to see him at work on the international stage.
Moscow has invited many world leaders - including Kim and the presidents of China and South Korea - to celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany, which will include a massive parade on Red Square.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said last month that the Kremlin had received the “first signals from Pyongyang” that the North Korean leader was planning to attend the festivities on May 9.
South Korean media quoted anonymous sources in Beijing this week as saying that Kim is likely to accept. U.S. President Barack Obama has reportedly decided to stay home, so that awkwardness has apparently been averted.
North Korea has not officially commented on the invitation and still has ample time to decline it.
Choosing Moscow for his first overseas trip would be a strong indication of the direction Kim wants to take his country. It would also provide the outside world with a rare look at a man who, while revered at the center of an intense cult of personality at home, is one of the biggest mysteries in international politics.
In the three years since he assumed power, Kim has shown a style of leadership devotedly in line with the policies of his father, Kim Jong-il, and adhered to tried-and-true “field guidance” photo opportunities at farms, factories and military bases, which are a standard way of presenting North Korea’s hands-on form of leadership.
This is in spite of a monthlong absence last year that set North Korea watchers into a frenzy of speculation about his health.