If Kim does so, he will become the first North Korean leader to land in Vietnam in 54 years. Kim Il-sung, North Korea‘s founding leader and his grandfather, held summits with then-Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh in November 1958 and October 1964.
|North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap)|
US President Donald Trump confirmed on Saturday (Seoul time) that he will meet Kim in Hanoi from Feb. 27-28. It will make it convenient for Kim to hold meetings with top Vietnamese leaders. It would be relatively easy as well for North Korean embassy officials there to make preparations for a state visit. That’s apparently a reason that Kim preferred Hanoi to the central seaside city of Da Nang as a summit location. Trump reportedly wanted Da Nang but made a concession.
If Kim Jong-un meets Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong, pundits wonder whether the North Korean leader will ask about Vietnam‘s economic system. Politically, Vietnam remains communist, but its economic system is open to capitalism.
Kim’s possible state visit to Vietnam could also strengthen ties between the two sides that have a history of ups and downs.
North Korea and Vietnam established diplomatic ties in January 1950. The two nations became close when North Korea sent troops and war supplies to Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
But their relationship derailed when North Korea condemned Vietnam for invading Cambodia in December 1978 and withdrew its ambassador from the country. The two sides decided to send ambassadors to each other in 1984, but their relationship became cold again when Vietnam established diplomatic ties with South Korea in 1992. (Yonhap)