ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronCrossEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinShapeCreated with Sketch.Icon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
N Korea at crossroads

Kim tours Beijing medicine plant in search of economic remedies

North Korean leader emphasizes industrial growth before heading home

Armed police officers stand guard outside a Beijing medicine factory that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly visited on Wednesday.   © Kyodo

BEIJING -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a famed herbal medicine maker in Beijing on Wednesday during his fourth trip to China, as he searches for new avenues for economic development.

Kim spent about 30 minutes at Beijing Tong Ren Tang's factory in the capital's Economic Technological Development Area. He received a rundown from company officials on state-of-the-art production lines making traditional medicine from animal horns and herbs. Later, the North Korean leader and his entourage apparently departed for home from Beijing Railway Station.

Kim seemed to be seeking hints from Tong Ren Tang on how to modernize the North's medicinal industry, which makes similar products. Some speculate that he aims to cultivate the industry as a new source of foreign currency through exports to markets like China.

Around midday, Kim visited the five-star Beijing Hotel, where he apparently dined with Chinese VIPs. This differed from his three other visits to the country, all in the past year, when he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for two consecutive days at state reception facilities. The North might have arranged Wednesday's hotel lunch as a return favor to the Chinese side.

Kim's train is expected to take more than 10 hours to reach the border from Beijing. He would cross into North Korea during Thursday's predawn hours if he returned home directly. Both sides view his visit as lasting four days through Thursday.

Kim Jong Un toured a Beijing factory that produces Chinese remedies, seeking hints on modernizing North Korea's own medicinal industry. (Photo by Kaisuke Ohta)

Kim met on Tuesday -- his birthday -- with Xi in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. The two leaders apparently spent around six hours together in total, including a reception and banquet. Kim looks to have stressed his focus on developing North Korea's economy.

He likely sought China's cooperation in negotiations with the U.S. toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, while proposing economic policies whose benefits would extend to China.

Kim insists that the North's denuclearization should be gradual and that sanctions should be eased in return for its progress. Xi has shown a measure of understanding for the North's stance in the past, and is believed to have conveyed his support once more. With that reassurance, Kim is hastening arrangements for a second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

In his New Year's address, Kim had urged the promotion of "multiparty negotiations for replacing the current cease-fire on the Korean Peninsula with a peace mechanism," suggesting he intended to involve China in the peace process going forward. It seemed to be a show of consideration to Xi, who hopes to maintain his influence in the peninsula.

Meanwhile, Trump remains upbeat about the idea of a second meeting with Kim. Details such as a location for the summit "will be announced probably in the not-too-distant future," he said Sunday. But working-level talks on the denuclearization process are stalled, and how Kim's China visit may stimulate progress remains to be seen.

Get unique insights on Asia, the most dynamic market in the world.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends January 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media