North Korea media heralds Kim's arrival in Vietnam for summit with Trump

Images of Mr Kim Jong Un are carefully controlled and managed in the isolated North, and swift and detailed coverage of his trips is unusual.
Images of Mr Kim Jong Un are carefully controlled and managed in the isolated North, and swift and detailed coverage of his trips is unusual.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea's state media on Wednesday (Feb 27) showcased leader Kim Jong Un's arrival in Hanoi ahead of his second summit with United States President Donald Trump, praising the host country's economic development as Mr Kim seeks sanctions relief.

Images of Mr Kim are carefully controlled and managed in the isolated North, and swift and detailed coverage of his trips is unusual.

But more recently - for his most recent journeys to China and the Singapore summit in June - reports have been more timely, even featuring fulsome praise for the staunchly capitalist city-state after Mr Kim went on a walkabout ahead of his first meeting with Mr Trump.

Now, the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper has splashed 13 pictures across its front page and five more on page two as it reported Mr Kim's arrival in Vietnam and his visit to the North Korean embassy in Hanoi.

"A jovial atmosphere filled the train station, with numerous onlookers including teenage students, cute children and women in traditional dress," it said after his olive green armoured train trundled into a border station.

The Rodong said Mr Kim had received a "detailed report" on preparations for the summit. A photo showed him, cigarette in hand, talking to officials including Mr Kim Hyok Chol, Pyongyang's special representative for the US, and Mr Choe Son Hui, vice-minister of foreign affairs, who jotted down his words.

And with Mr Trump touting Vietnam as a model for the isolated, impoverished North, the paper also lauded the South-east Asian nation's economic development.

 
 
 
 

"Today, Vietnam's ruling party and the government are... striving for economic reform along with strengthening the socialist regime," it said. "Vietnam has huge potential for economic development."

One group picture at the embassy showed Mr Kim sitting in the middle of the front row surrounded by employees and their family members, his arms around two young girls - one in traditional Korean clothes and the other in a Western-style dress.

North Korean diplomats stationed overseas are usually required to leave some family members - usually children - behind in Pyongyang to stave off defections.

The paper also carried a photo of Pyongyang's Juche tower illuminated against the night sky, reminiscent of the poster for hit Hollywood movie Sleepless In Seattle - although that film, along with all American movies, is banned in North Korea.

"Sleepless night in the capital city, wholeheartedly longing for the respected leader," read the caption.