Is this the year North Korea’s Kim Jong Un finally meets another leader?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL January 19, 2015
Kim Jong-un, North Korea, DPRK, South Korea, Korean peninsula, Dr Patrick Cronin, Foreign Policy

It’s been three years since Kim Jong-un became heir apparent

“Is this the year that Kim Jong Un finally meets another leader?” asks The Washington Post.

He’s not left North Korea in the three years since he’s been the ‘Great Successor’. Unlike his late father and grandfather, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, the 30-something Kim has not even visited China and Russia. But this year, may be all change.

Vladimir Putin has invited Kim to attend a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany on May 9 and Pyongyang has responded positively. If he goes, that’ll be a big debut on the world stage. President Obama has been invited as well.

Then there’s South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye’s suggestion that it’s time to sit down with Kim to discuss the peninsula’s lost decades of division and distrust. Thirteen years ago, she traveled to Pyongyang in 2002 to meet Kim Jong Il. This time, if talks happen, might Kim decide to give Seoul a whirl?

Lastly, there’s China. As the experts say, whatever President Xi Jingping thinks of the portly Kim (he’s probably miffed that he had Jang Song-taek, the main conduit between China and North Korea executed at the end of 2013), he has to meet him at some point. Pyongyang needs Beijing for aid and trade. Beijing needs its proxy to not collapse to prevent a reunified, US-allied Korea. Consider the exaggerated caution Beijing recently exercised when officials even played down the killing of four Chinese citizens by a rogue North Korean soldier.