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 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
British are sexually uptight, dirty and drink too much – according to Spanish book
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...
£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...