PYONGYANG, North Korea (AFP) – North Korea’s state media provided extensive coverage yesterday of a late night stroll taken by Kim Jong-un around staunchly capitalist Singapore, with a barrage of photos accompanying the young leader’s effusive praise for the island state’s economic model.
Fulsome applause for another country is unusual for the media in the impoverished North, which generally do not show detailed images of affluent foreign countries.
A few hours ahead of his historic summit with Donald Trump – the first encounter between a leader of the isolated, nuclear-armed North and a sitting US President – Kim took a break from preparations for a waterfront stroll.
He was accompanied by Singapore’s foreign and education ministers – with whom he posed for selfies – and surrounded by officials as police held back pursuing reporters.
But images of Kim are carefully controlled and managed in the isolated North, and travelling media from Pyongyang enjoyed close access.
No fewer than 14 images of his visit to the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) hotel, casino and convention centre and other sights were printed on the front page of the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
It showed him smiling on the MBS’ rooftop Sky Park observation platform, adding he “learned about the social and economic development” of Singapore.
Other pictures showed onlookers taking pictures of Kim, who has made only two previous trips beyond the Korean peninsula as leader, both of them to China.
In Pyongyang, commuters gathered around a news stand at a subway station where the front page had been posted.
Praising Singapore’s “clean and beautiful” environment, Kim vowed to “learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future,” the newspaper added.
The bright lights of the Singaporean cityscape are a notable contrast to Pyongyang, much of which remains dimly lit at night despite Kim overseeing a number of prestige development projects during his rule.