Kim Jong Un makes surprise visit to China


Provided by Wikimedia Commons

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands after a separate meeting of theirs in March. Kim traveled unannounced to Beijing by train last month for another meeting with Chinese officials.

by Anvi Banga and Anika Rajamani

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made an unannounced visit to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping just months before the 2018 North Korea-United States Summit.

His visit to China marks his first time leaving North Korea since he assumed power in 2011 and his first meeting with another country’s leader. The last North Korean leader to visit China was Kim Jong-Il, who did so in 2011.

“Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction,” world history teacher Andrea Milius said. “Hopefully, they will eventually be embraced by the world instead of being shunned by the world.”

The “mystery train” that arrived at Beijing’s central train station on March 26 caused a lot of speculation, as it was only officially announced to have brought the North Korean leader after the meeting and Kim’s return to North Korea. The green 21-car train had tinted and bulletproof windows and crossed the border back to North Korea on March 28, two days after the initial meeting.

“I don’t know if they were too secret. That train is super outdated technology; I think it goes around 30 miles per hour,” Milius said. “I just think he’s a dictator; he just does what he wants to do.”

A few hours after news broke of the meeting, President Trump tweeted that “For years and through many administrations, everyone said that peace and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was not even a small possibility. Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity. Look forward to our meeting!”

“I hope that they become part of the global world and that they heal and become incorporated and they’re not isolated anymore,” Milius said. “People can get food and help and access to medical supplies and lights.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary, announced that the Chinese government had contacted American administration officials to inform them about the meetings.

Just two months ago, North Korea sent a team of athletes to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. This travel led to plans for Kim Jong Un to meet South Korean president Moon Jae-in and a direct invite to President Trump to meet and discuss nuclear programs.

This surprise meeting could help ease tensions between the two countries, but the Chinese government has showed support for controlling nuclear development in North Korea. They have also enforced punishing sanctions placed by the United Nations, which have decreased the import of North Korean goods into China, namely coal and other resources critical to their development of nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong Un made a visit to South Korea to meet South Korean leader Moon Jae-in on April 27. This historic event marks the first time a North Korean leader has visited South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. The leaders discussed possibilities of ending nuclearization in North Korea and planted a tree together. By the end of the historic meeting, the two nations declared an end to hostilities and pledged to work towards denuclearizing the peninsula.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on May 7, 2018.