July 02, 2018 12:53
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited two areas in North Pyongan Province near the Chinese border on Friday and Saturday, the official [North] Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday.
It was his first public outing since his June 19-20 meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The outing suggests he is interested in getting cross-border business up and running fast.
North Pyongan Province is home to Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa Island, where a joint economic zone between China and North Korea is planned.
Since a lavish groundbreaking ceremony in June 2011, construction proceeded at a snail's pace until stopping altogether after the brutal execution of Kim's uncle Jang Song-taek, who was in charge of business with China, in December 2013.
Inspecting a cosmetics factory in Sinuiju, Kim said, "It is important to completely eliminate manual labor and modernize production processes."
Sinuiju is between Dandong and the Apnok River and serves as a hub of China-North Korea trade.
As relations with China warm rapidly, official and unofficial cross-border business is expected to increase rapidly. Premier Pak Pong-ju accompanied Kim during his recent trip to Beijing, and a group of North Korean party officials visited China to tour examples of its economic miracle.
Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday said Kim asked Xi to ease sanctions during their last summit.
China and Russia in a statement to UN Security Council members last week urged the relaxation of sanctions against North Korea, according to the daily.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com