Mystery of 'trip to China' by country's aged leader
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Saturday 21 May 2011
North Korea's ruler Kim Jong-il made a surprise visit to China yesterday, South Korean media reported, amid confusing reports about the purpose of the trip and the presence of his son.
Media in Seoul quoted South Korean presidential and government sources as saying the 69-year-old leader travelled by train yesterday morning. Earlier, the media outlets reported that it was youngest son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un who arrived in Tumen, in the north-eastern Chinese province of Jilin. A presidential source would not confirm the later reports.
If the elder Mr Kim's visit is confirmed, it would be the North Korean leader's third trip to China in the past 12 months. In the past, such visits have been shrouded in mystery, and it has taken days for China or North Korea to admit a visit was underway.
Kim Jong-il, who travels by train due to a fear of flying, visited China last May and August. In the latter visit, he met Chinese President Hu Jintao in the north-eastern Chinese city of Changchun and said that he was committed to denuclearisation. Yet, in November the North revealed a uranium enrichment programme, opening a second route to make a nuclear bomb along with its plutonium programme.
Kim Jong-il had a suspected stroke in 2008 and analysts had thought his visits last year were to shore up support for a handover of power to his youngest son, Kim Jong-un. But the elder Mr Kim's health appears to have improved significantly, prompting diplomats and analysts to re-evalute their assessment of the succession.
Recently published images of the so-called "Dear Leader" show him portly and pudgy-faced.
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 3 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 4 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 5 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...