May 12, 2014 11:47
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju traveled in Kim's own airplane to an air base to watch a combat flight contest, the official Rodong Sinmun daily reported on Saturday.
The daily carried photos showing the Kims arriving at the base, the first time that the dictator's aircraft has been shown in public.
The plane is a Russian-made IL-62 emblazoned with the North's official name and flag and a big star symbolizing Kim on its tail wing.
On April 1, Kim was also seen alighting from an airplane at Samjiyon Airport but he was traveling Air Koryo at the time.
The North Korean leader seems keen to show that he does not suffer the same pathological fear of flying as his father Kim Jong-il, who cut a slightly comic figure traveling as far as he could get by special armored train.
"Kim Jong-un likes steering aircraft," a senior government source here said. "In March he piloted what’s thought to have been a Cessna when he visited Wonsan."
Ri's father is also said to have been a pilot.
Meanwhile, Kim and Ri were accompanied by Hwang Pyong-so, the new military politburo chief, and Choe Ryong-hae, Hwang's predecessor, who was in civilian clothes.
This has fueled speculation that Choe has not lost much actual status though he was demoted to party secretary.
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