Kim Jong Un, showered with gifts and taken to see ballet, leaves Russia

Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea, left Russia’s Primorsky Krai region by train after a state visit in which he was showered with gifts and taken to see a ballet performance. Photo courtesy of KCNA

Sept. 17 (UPI) — Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea, left Russia’s Primorsky Krai region by train after a state visit in which he was showered with gifts and taken to see a ballet performance.

The North Korean leader left from the station Artyom-Primorsky 1 for the border checkpoint Khasan, Russian government-controlled media reported.

Details of Kim’s visit had been published by Russian state media on Saturday but North Korea revealed more details, providing insight into the extent of blossoming diplomatic relations between the two countries enhanced by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

North Korea’s Central News Agency, a propaganda arm of Kim’s regime, praised the “fervent and welcoming atmosphere” that greeted the supreme leader in Russia and noted that he was showered with gifts during the visit.

“A fresh heyday of friendship and solidarity and cooperation is being opened up in the history of the development of the relations between the DPRK and Russia,” North Korean officials said.

Kim was accompanied on the trip by Ri Pyong Chol and Pak Jong Chon, two marshals of the Korean People’s Army. The rank of marshal is the most senior position in the North Korean military, outranking generals. Ri, a relative of Kim’s wife, has been a particularly close advisor to the supreme leader.

Others traveling with him included Defense Minister Kang Sun Nam, KPA Air Force commander Gen. Kim Kwang Hyok and KPA Navy commander Admiral Kim Myong Sik. The fact that Kim was joined by such a significant array of top military leadership shows the growing comfort between the countries.

On the Russian side, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was flanked by Aleksey Krivoruchko — the vice defense minister – as well as Russian Navy commander Nikolai Yevmenov and Sergei Kobylash, commander of the long-range bomber force.

As outlined by North Korea, Kim’s daylong tour began after he arrived in Russia at 9 a.m. on Saturday on his private train. He first went to the Knevichi Airbase where he was “warmly welcomed” by Kobylash.

Kobylash briefed Kim on the combat performance, arms and equipment of military planes on display as well as their tactical and technical specifications, North Korean officials said. He also gave a gift to Kim but the item was not revealed.

Russian state media revealed Saturday that Kim was shown Tu-95, Tu-160 and Tu-22M3 strategic bombers as Kobylash touted the capacities of the Kh-BD long-range missile. The missile reportedly has a range of more than 4,038 miles.

Kim was also shown Uran anti-ship missile systems and the Kalibr multi-purpose cruise missile systems, as well as the A-190 100mm automatic artillery system.

The supreme leader then visited Russia’s Pacific Fleet base, a “powerful naval fortress” that “reliably defends the territorial waters and national interests of Russia in constant actual war readiness” as described by North Korea.

They were then joined by Shoigu and others before Kim was given a tour of the Russian frigate Marshal Shaposhnikov in the Far East city of Vladivostok. Kim was saluted by the captain of the ship as he boarded the vessel.

“The victorious wake for defending justice and peace will last forever. Regard for the Pacific Sea Fleet Kim Jong Un 2023. 9.16,” Kim wrote in the ship’s visitor book during the tour.

Shoigu held a luncheon in Kim’s honor and presented him with another gift, which was not described by North Korean officials. The two had a talk after the luncheon.

“Kim Jong Un shared views on the regional and international military and political situation with Sergei Shoigu, and exchanged their constructive opinions on the practical issues arising in further strengthening the strategic and tactical coordination, cooperation and mutual exchange between the armed forces of the two countries and in the fields of their national defense and security,” North Korean officials said.

At the end of the visit, Kim watched a performance of the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” at the Maritime Territory Branch of the Mariinsky Theatre.

Kim met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last week at the Vostochny Space Center as well as the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Yuri Gagarin Aviation Plant, where he was shown the fifth-generation Su-35 fighter jet and got into the cockpit of one of them.

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