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N. Korea confirms Kim's not-so-secret trip to China ( msnbc _ AP)

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updated 8/30/2010 4:34:46 PM ET

SEOUL, South Korea — After Kim Jong Il's safe
return Monday, North Korea confirmed what
for days had been clear: the Dear Leader was
on a not-so-secret trip to northeastern China.

Kim hobnobbed with top Chinese officials,
including President Hu Jintao, toured factories
and paid a nostalgic trip down Kim family
memory lane, according to Chinese and North
Korean state media — possibly, rumor had it,
accompanied by the son many believe is being
groomed to succeed him as North Korea's
next leader.

There was no sign of Kim Jong Un, the 20-
something son said to be in his favor, and
there was no mention of him in either nation's
dispatches about the five-day trip that was
shrouded in typical secrecy.

Still, signs that the North Korean regime is
laying the groundwork for a succession
movement abounded in the 68-year-old Kim's
pointedly patriotic and strategic trip by train
through northeastern China.

China remains North Korea's chief ally and
benefactor, supplier of troops when the
Korean War broke out 60 years ago and its
main source of aid to this day. Beijing's
continued good will is crucial for North Korea
since its ailing economy is unable to provide
Image: Kim Jong Il
North Korea's Kim Jong Il, center, visits an agriculture expo in Changchun, northeast China's Jilin province on Saturday Aug. 28.
N. Korea confirms Kim's not-so-secret trip to China
China provides food assistance and nearly all of North Korea's oil
enough food for its people. China provides
food assistance and nearly all of North Korea's
oil, and much of Pyongyang's trade, passes
through China.

China is also the place where North Korea
founder Kim Il Sung, father of the current
leader, sowed his revolutionary roots as a
budding guerrilla fighter when his family fled
the Japanese occupation of Korea in the

The trip — just weeks after the 60th
anniversary of the Korean War and during the
100th anniversary of Japan's annexation of
Korea — served to both solidify North Korea's
ties with its most important ally and to
emphasize the Kim family's patriotic lineage.

It also came as a surprise to those who
expected him to be in Pyongyang, courting
Jimmy Carter during the former U.S.
president's own surprise trip to the
communist capital last week.

North Korea has been building toward pivotal
celebrations in 2012 to mark the 100th year of
Kim Il Sung's birth, an occasion that would
have been a key time for a regime change.
However, time may be running out: Kim
reportedly suffered a stroke in 2008, and is
noticeably grayer and thinner than in the past.

The fact that Kim, who never flies and rarely
travels abroad, was making a second trip to
China in four months, gave the trip a sense of
unprecedented urgency.

"His purpose is to increase economic and
diplomatic assistance from China for his
succession process, which is more urgent
than before," said Shi Yinhong, a professor of
international relations at Renmin University in
Beijing. "This is the center of his concern."

Shi said the purpose of Kim's visit was to
drum up support from China for the
leadership succession, a process that Beijing
also wants to see go smoothly. Analysts note
that the trip comes just days before North
Korea is to hold a Workers' Party congress
next month — the biggest political convention
in 30 years.

The last major convention was in 1980, when
Kim Jong Il was officially named to a senior
Workers' Party post, and many believe the son
similarly may be granted a key party position.

"With the party convention ahead, North Korea
was trying to show its people economic and
political stability through North Korean-
Chinese cooperation, and to use the
convention to make steady progress on
succession," said Kim Yong-hyun, an expert
on North Korean affairs at Seoul's Dongguk

It probably didn't hurt, either, to snub the ex-
leader of the nation's longtime foe, the United
States. Pyongyang remains locked in a standoff w
ith Washington over its nuclear weapons
program and the March sinking of a South
Korean warship, a deadly incident the U.S. and
South Korea consider a violation of the
armistice signed in 1953. North Korea denies

In their meeting Friday in the city of
Changchun, Kim and Hu discussed the nuclear
disarmament talks that North Korea walked
away from last year, with Kim telling the
Chinese president Pyongyang hopes for an
early resumption of the negotiations, China's
state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

"With the international situation remaining
complicated, it is our important historical
mission to hand over to the rising generation
the baton of the traditional friendship passed
over by the revolutionary forefathers of the
two countries," Kim said at their banquet,
according to the North's official Korean
Central News Agency.

Kim was shown embracing Hu in footage aired
by China Central Television.

"The North Koreans wanted to show that they
want to resolve the nuclear issue through
North Korean-Chinese relations," analyst Kim
Yong-hyun said.

He said it wasn't an outright snub but a
strategic move to get Washington to act. "By
getting closer with China, or at least making it
seem like relations are strong, North Korea is
indirectly trying to get the U.S. to be more
aggressive and involved."

Other stops to factories and farms in Jilin,
Changchun and Harbin, all former centers of
heavy industry that have tried to remake
themselves under free-market competition,
were economic in focus. Kim also visited the
construction site for a Catholic Church, KCNA

"We were deeply impressed and greatly
encouraged to see for ourselves the
resourceful and hardworking Chinese people,"
Kim Jong Il said in a message to Hu published
Monday by KCNA.

But it was Kim's tour of sites highlighting the
"footprints of revolution" that seemed to affect
the aging leader most.

His first stop: Jilin Yuwen Middle School, which
his father attended in the 1920s, and where
Kim Il Sung is said to have nurtured his anti-
Japanese fervor.

Seeing a chair and table his father used 80
years ago, "Kim Jong Il was overcome with
deep emotion," KCNA said.

"I think he is probably bringing his son to visit
the middle school that Kim Il Sung attended,
and to visit the revolutionary site where he
fought against Japan," said Cui Yingjiu, a
retired professor of Korean literature at
China's Peking University and former
classmate of Kim's.

North Korea routinely highlights the Kim
family patriotism when trying to shore up
communism's first dynastic succession,
analysts said.

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[ 2010-08-31, 11:02 ] 조회수 : 2326
출처 : msnbc-AP