North Korea’s media on Sunday reported leader Kim Jong-un’s aggressive on-site inspections of key sites for economic reconstruction amid lackluster progress in denuclearization talks with the United States.
The Rodong Sinmun, the daily of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said that since late June, Kim has traveled to some 20 sites in North Pyongan Province, Yanggang Province, North Hamgyong Province and Gangwon Province.
“It is a story of his love for the people despite the heat wave,” the newspaper said, referring to Kim’s recent visits to a Pyongyang factory that produces trolleybuses. “How much did we cry while thinking about (Kim’s) clothes being soaked with sweat that was falling down like rain!”
The on-site visits came after Kim shifted his strategic policy focus to economic development earlier this year, a change of course that led to the historic June summit in Singapore with U.S. President Donald Trump.
At the summit, Trump and Kim agreed to pursue the “complete denuclearization” of the peninsula, raising speculation about the possible lifting of international sanctions and creation of economic opportunities for the reclusive state. But the two countries’ denuclearization talks have so far made little tangible progress.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho encountered his American counterpart Mike Pompeo in Singapore on Friday at the opening of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
They shook hands with each other and exchanged words, as Pompeo approached Ri first with a smile.
The annual ARF is the sole regional forum in which the North’s top diplomat participates.
It also brought together the foreign ministers of more than two dozen countries, mostly Asia-Pacific nations.
After a photo session, Sung Kim, the State Department’s top Korea expert, delivered an envelope of documents to Ri.
Kim, currently the ambassador to the Philippines, is a member of the U.S. delegation to the ARF.
But chances seem low that Ri and Pompeo will sit down together for formal bilateral talks. The secretary is leaving Singapore later in the day.
Ri turned down South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha’s offer of a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ARF.