As North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Singapore on Sunday ahead of his Tuesday summit meeting with President Donald Trump, he signaled that even more than a breakthrough with the U.S., he was thinking of survival.
The reclusive North Korean leader brought with him his own private food supply for his time in Singapore as well as a private security force, The Washington Times reported.
Kim’s caution comes as he undertakes one of the very few foreign trips of his rule. Since taking power in 2011, he only traveled to China until this spring’s border-hopping journey to South Korea.
After his arrival, Kim went to the hotel where he is staying. He also held a brief meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, CNN reported.
Welcomed Chairman Kim Jong Un, who has just arrived in Singapore. pic.twitter.com/ZLK4ouIejx
— Vivian Balakrishnan (@VivianBala) June 10, 2018
Kim was the first summit participant to arrive. Trump was en route Sunday, and he tweeted his thoughts about the upcoming summit.
…Create peace and great prosperity for his land. I look forward to meeting him and have a feeling that this one-time opportunity will not be wasted!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 9, 2018
As noted last month by The Washington Post, Kim will spend his time in Singapore looking over his shoulder due to concerns that while he is away, military leaders could stage a coup.
One commentator suggested Kim’s recent action to replace three key military officials was insurance against a coup.
Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University, said Kim shifted priorities from putting the military first to putting the Korean Workers’ Party first.
“Since he changed the priority to the party, Mr Kim has been afraid of a coup instigated by the military, so he is doing everything in his power to exert control over their leaders and making sure they are not strong enough to challenge his authority,” he told The U.K. Express.
Singapore has prepared for the summit by increasing security, The New York Times reported. Entering one whole section of the city requires passing bag and body searches, with even tighter security around the hotels where Trump, Kim and their delegations will be staying. Singapore has also banned bullhorns, banners and drones in advance of the visit to limit protests.
“We’ll most likely see an unprecedented scale of protection on land, sea and air as this summit is the biggest issue in the world right now,” Chae Kyou-chir, chief executive of Top Guard, a South Korean security company, told CNBC.
“Kim Jong Un is revered as a god-like being in his country, while outside the North, he’s been subject to hostility because of the way his regime is run, and that’s enough to always cause safety concerns for his officials,” he said, adding that he expected Kim to bring his personal chef from North Korea.
However, the power of optics will not be lost on Kim, suggested Ahn Chan-il, president of the World Institute for North Korea Studies.
“Kim Jong Un might bring good-looking female bodyguards to embody a more approachable image,” said Ahn, a North Korean defector.
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