North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects island areas near China

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's rare visit to the remote northern region spawns speculation that North Korea may seek to strengthen its economic cooperation with China amid their thawing ties.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's rare visit to the remote northern region spawns speculation that North Korea may seek to strengthen its economic cooperation with China amid their thawing ties.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has visited island areas near China, the country's state media said on Saturday (June 30), marking his first inspection following his historic summit with US President Donald Trump earlier this month, Yonhap news agency reported.

Mr Kim made the so-called field guidance to a reed farm in Sindo County in North Pyongan Province, which borders China, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

It was his first such inspection since his summit with Mr Trump in Singapore on June 12 and his third visit to China on June 19 and 20.

Mr Kim's rare visit to the remote northern region spawns speculation that North Korea may seek to strengthen its economic cooperation with China amid their thawing ties.

Mr Kim held his first summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in March, followed by another in May in the run-up to his meeting with Mr Trump over the North's nuclear programme.

Sindo County includes Hwangkumpyong, an island in the Yalu River near the Sinuiju-Dandong border where the North and China agreed in 2012 to develop a joint economic zone. But the project went into limbo following the North's execution of Mr Kim's uncle Jang Song Thaek in 2013.

The KCNA said that Mr Kim has ordered that the county be made a large-scale production base for reed to produce chemical fiber materials.

His entourage included Hwang Pyong So, who was dismissed from the post of the top military official, and Kim Song Nam, the first vice director of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea's international department.