NATIONAL

N. Korean leader hosts exclusive performance, banquet for Chinese official

By Yonhap
  • Published : Sept 11, 2018 - 12:04
  • Updated : Sept 11, 2018 - 12:04
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hosted an art performance and banquet exclusively for Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy in Pyongyang, the North's media said Tuesday, in an extraordinary move that signals the two countries' friendly relationship.

The Korean Central News Agency said that Kim arranged the event Monday for Li Zhanshu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China, and his delegation at the Mansudae Art Theater.


(Yonhap)

Kim and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, enjoyed the performance together with Li and members of his delegation, the KCNA report said, adding that the audience also included Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong; Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of the North's ruling party; and Chinese ambassador to Pyongyang, Li Jinjun.

"Kim and Ri greeted the members of the Chinese party and government delegation at the lobby of the art theater. After exchanging warm greetings and posing for a photo with the Chinese guests, Kim had an amiable talk with them," the report said.

Li, China's No. 3-ranked official, arrived in Pyongyang on Saturday to celebrate the North's 70th founding anniversary and deliver a personal letter from Xi to Kim.

Besides North Korean songs, the art performance featured various Chinese songs, including the female solo and male chorus "Song of Changjiang" and the women's choruses "The Fluttering Red Flag" and "I Love My Chinese Nation," it said. The performance culminated with "Korea-China Friendship Will Be Ever-lasting."

"Kim, together with Li, mounted the stage to congratulate the artists before hosting a banquet in honor of the Chinese official. They had an amiable talk while the banquet was proceeding in a friendly and amicable atmosphere," the KCNA report said.

Watchers say it is exceptional for the North's leader to host an exclusive performance and banquet for a visiting Chinese official. They interpret the move as a gesture to display friendship between the two countries and express gratitude to Xi for sending his country's No. 3-ranked official to Pyongyang.

During a founding anniversary military parade on Sunday, Kim and Li stood close together on the podium and appeared to enjoy talking to each other. Newspapers published in Pyongyang and Beijing have also carried detailed stories on Li's visit to the North's capital.

According to sources in Beijing, North Korea and China are expected to push for a visit by Xi to Pyongyang this year, after the two countries reaffirmed their strong alliance through the North's 70th founding anniversary event over the weekend.

They also predicted that China is expected to engage in maximum economic cooperation with the North within the boundary of UN.

economic sanctions to help pave the way for Xi's Pyongyang visit in the future. (Yonhap)