[SUMMIT] N. Korean leader makes surprise night tour of Singapore

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-06-12 09:51 Updated : 2018-06-12 10:00
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan's Twitter]

SINGAPORE -- On the eve of his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a surprise nighttime tour to learn about the "social and economic development" of Singapore, according to the North's state media.

Accompanied by his sister and North Korean officials, Kim left his accommodation, the St. Regis Hotel, shortly after 9:00 p.m. to visit Singapore's tourist attractions including Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay Sands integrated resorts.

During his tour that lasted for more than two hours, Kim was seen walking with Singapore foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan and education minister Ong Ye Kung. Surrounded by security guards decked in black and white, the three graced the streets.

Prior to Kim's appearance, police vehicles and motorcycles had gathered outside the St. Regis Hotel. Several hours later, onlookers saw the reclusive leader strolling around.

Screams and gasp of Kim's name could be heard from many videos posted on social media as onlookers whipped out their smartphones to capture the historical moment.

This is a first for Singapore, and the world as the man who was once known and described by critics as a murderous dictator, took to the streets with huge smiles on his face, coupled with a selfie with Singapore ministers.

Foreign minister Balakrishnan posted the selfie picture on twitter with hashtags “#Jalanjalan” and “#guesswhwere”. "Jalanjalan" is known to be a Singapore slang which originates from the Malay language, meaning to take a walk.

Kim also stopped by the Marina Bay Sands, an integrated resort known to be one of the world’s most expensive standalone casino property.

The momentous display of Kim stepping into the spotlight demonstrates his efforts to change the afflictive image of North Korea. For decades, the world has seen a tense standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. But the young leader defied criticism on his ruling and could finally be seen stepping into a bona fide regime in time to come.

His act of coming forth and stepping into negotiations on the possibility of denuclearizing his country deserves commendation as he breaks the stereotype of the past intransigent North Korean leaders.

Through his tour on Monday night, Kim learned about "social and economic development," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"Going round the Great Flower Garden, one of the prides of Singapore, Sky Park located on the roof of the world-famous Marina Bay Sands building and Singapore Port, he learned about the social and economic development of the Republic of Singapore," KCNA said.

Kim was quoted as saying he would "learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future."

This story was contributed by Jazin Wee, an editorial assistant.