North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has expressed interest to Vietnamese authorities in visiting a Samsung Electronics factory ahead of a planned summit with US President Donald Trump, according to people who were briefed on his plans.
Kim’s delegation has informed Vietnam’s government that he’s interested in visiting a Samsung factory in Bac Ninh province, about an hour’s drive from his hotel in downtown Hanoi, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. Any decision may come at the last minute, and Vietnam has instructed officials to be prepared, they said.
Samsung declined to comment. Le Thi Thu Hang, a spokeswoman for Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also declined to comment.
Kim arrived in Hanoi on Tuesday ahead of meetings with Trump where the two leaders plan to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program and ways to improve relations. While his schedule is largely a mystery, reports have surfaced in the past few weeks that he plans to visit industrial areas in Vietnam. South Korean officials have played down those reports.
The North Korean leader is seeking some relief from international sanctions as he looks to focus on developing the economy after building up a credible nuclear deterrent. South Korean companies in particular are getting ready to invest in North Korea if sanctions are lifted.
Samsung Electronics is the largest of several multinational manufacturers to make big bets on Vietnam. Samsung’s exports accounted for about a fifth of the country’s exports in 2018. Samsung has disbursed more than 90 percent of its pledged Vietnam investment of $17.36 billion, according to the company, and its units employ nearly 160,000 Vietnamese. (Bloomberg)