North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJI-Medvedev to Meet Wednesday?

According to ROK and Russian media reports, Kim Jong Il is expected to visit Skovorodino en route to his meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Ulan Ude. The red line indicates his rail route. (Photo: Google image)

Russian and ROK media said that Kim Jong Il and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will meet on Wednesday (24 August) in Ulan Ude.  The DPRK-Russian leadership meeting was originally believed to take place on Tuesday (23 August), but may have been delayed by a day.  On his way to Ulan Ude KJI will reportedly visit Skovorodino.  Yonhap reports:

On Monday, the third day of his Russian trip, an armored train believed to carry Kim was heading to the eastern Siberian city of Ulan-Ude, where the two leaders are expected to meet. On Sunday, Kim paid a visit to the Bureiskaya hydroelectric plant in the Amur region.

Ulan-Ude, near Lake Baikal, is about 3,000 kilometers away from Bureiskaya.

“On his way to Ulan-Ude, Kim is likely to stop off at the city of Skovorodino,” the intelligence official said on the condition of anonymity. “If so, the North Korea-Russia summit, originally scheduled for Aug. 23, will be delayed by one day.”

Skovorodino is the starting point for an oil pipeline between eastern Siberia and China. Russia and China completed a 1,000-km oil pipeline linking Skovorodino to Daqing in the northeastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang last year.

In Seoul, a senior government official also said, “There is a possibility that Kim will arrive in Ulan-Ude on Aug. 23 and hold the summit on Aug. 24 after spending a night.”

Newspapers in Russia carried similar reports, citing their diplomatic sources.

The Izvestiya newspaper reported the Kim-Medvedev talks would be held on Wednesday and the venue for the summit would be a state guesthouse in Ulan-Ude, not a military compound.

Tight security measures were in force ahead of his arrival at the city’s railway station and near the state guesthouse, the Russian daily reported.

For years, Russia has proposed building a pipeline through the divided Korean Peninsula to sell Siberian natural gas to South Korea, one of the world’s largest buyers of natural gas.

If realized, the project could help ease tensions on the peninsula and bring much-needed hard currency to North Korea. North Korea can expect to earn more than US$500 million a year in handling charges over the gas pipeline, according to South Korean analysts.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan said this month that North Korea reacted “positively” to the natural-gas pipeline construction project. The North’s reaction was conveyed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Kim during their bilateral talks on Aug. 8.

Moscow has also floated the idea of connecting its Trans-Siberian Railway with South Korea via North Korea, a proposal that would provide cheaper shipping routes for South Korean companies selling goods to Europe.

Kim Jong Il's arrives on 21 August at an Amur Oblast railway station in Russia's Far East (Photo: Port Amur/Amur information agency)

DPRK media reported KJI’s visit to Amur and his tour of the Bureiskaya (Bureya) power plant on Sunday and Monday (22 August).  In its report KCNA referred to his “next destination,” but not did disclose where or what that was.

After being briefed on the history of the plant, he acquainted himself in detail with the construction and electricity production, going round the generating room and other places.

Commanding a bird’s-eye view of the giant plant from the observation deck, he said it is a great structure to go down in the history of Russia.

Highly praising the brave and talented Russian people for having built the modern large-scale hydro-electric plant by harnessing nature for dozens of years, he expressed expectation that the workers of the plant would keep the electricity production going at a high rate and contribute to the economic development in the Far East Region and its people’s wellbeing.

He wrote in the visitor’s book: “Inexhaustible is the strength of the Russian people who occupied Bureya nature. Kim Jong Il. August 21, 2011.”

The director of the plant presented him with a gift which was prepared with sincerity carrying boundless respect and reverence of all its employees for him.

The governor of the region gave a luncheon in honor of Kim Jong Il on a visit to the region.

Warmly welcoming Kim Jong Il visiting the Far East Region for the strengthening and development of the Russia-DPRK friendship on behalf of the Regional Government and people, the governor expre ssed the pleasure to receive in their region the leader in good health and full of energy.

The luncheon proceeded in an amicable atmosphere overflowing with friendship. An art performance prepared by the artistes of the region was given in welcome of him.

He was presented with a gift by the governor on behalf of the officials and people of the region in token of his historic visit to the region.

He left for his next destination amid the warm send-off by senior officials of the region.

Meanwhile, back on the peninsula, the DPRK announced that it will continue with the disposal of assets at Ku’mgang resort.  KBS World reports:

North Korea says that it will dispose under its law all assets of South Korean companies at the North’s Mount Geumgang resort.

North Korea revealed its stance in a statement issued by a spokesman from the resort’s guidance bureau on Monday. According to the North’s official Korea Central News Agency, the statement said the North will take legal steps to dispose all South Korean property, including real estate, equipment and vehicles, at Mount Geumgang. It added that the South Korean government has completely abandoned the protection of assets of South Korean companies in the resort.

The news agency also reported that North Korea has banned South Korean companies from taking any goods and assets out of the Mount Geumgang resort from midnight on Sunday, and further demanded that South Korean personnel leave Mount Geumgang within 72 hours.

Previously, North Korea demanded South Korean firms on July 29th to make a decision on the disposal of their assets at the mountain resort within three weeks in accordance with its special law on the Geumgang tourist district.

An official notice reading "Freeze" in Korean is stuck to a South Korean-owned building at the Mount Kumgang resort, one of several assets that North Korea froze last year. (Yonhap file photo)

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August 2011