ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
North Korea Crisis

Was Kim's flight to China rehearsal for a Singapore summit?

Choice of transport raises speculation over Trump meeting venue

Kim Jong Un's decision to fly to China suggests a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump could take place farther beyond North Korea than his usual train can easily travel.   © Kyodo

SEOUL/DALIAN, China -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un broke with tradition by flying to this week's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, fueling speculation that Kim's talks with U.S. President Donald Trump will be held far from the Korean Peninsula.

Past North Korean leaders -- notably Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, who was reportedly afraid of flying -- preferred to travel by rail. The younger Kim's first meeting with Xi, held in Beijing this March, was no exception.

But for their second face-to-face talks on Monday and Tuesday, Kim flew from the North Korean capital to the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian.

After 3 p.m. on Tuesday, a gray jet was seen pulling out of the VIP terminal at Dalian's airport and taking off into a hazy sky -- likely with Kim and other senior North Korean officials aboard.

The flight could have been practice for the Kim-Trump summit expected in the coming weeks.

Many observers now believe that the two men will meet in a third country, likely Singapore, rather than the Korean War truce village of Panmunjom as once expected. A journey by train to such a venue would cross multiple borders, raising formidable logistical and security challenges.

This may have been a factor for Kim, whom South Korean President Moon Jae-in described as a "practical" man after their historic summit last month.

Handling Kim's Dalian visit was challenge enough. Unannounced, intermittent road closures snarled traffic throughout the city. Many inbound and outbound flights were canceled or delayed on both days to accommodate the trip, creating confusion at the airport.

Thanks in part to these precautions, the visitor's identity was kept under wraps until the end of his stay. "Secrecy has gotten very strict since Xi Jinping became president," a police officer said.

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 June 30th

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