Kim arrives from media-proof Pyongyang on a bullet-proof train

by WorldTribune Staff, February 26, 2019

After a 65-hour trek across China on his green, bulletproof train, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un arrived at Dong Dang Railway Station at the Vietnam-China border at around 8:10 a.m. on Feb. 26.

Accustomed to complete control of public information back home where the state media dominate, there was excitement about the fact that Kim and his entourage would be housed in the same hotel as the international press corps covering the summit.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, a habitual smoker, outside his bullet-proof train which conveyed him to Vietnam for his summit with President Donald Trump. TBS / JNN / AP-Yonhap

South Korean media had hailed it as a “heroic” and “deliberate strategy” for Kim to reveal himself to the American press. No such luck.

The moment Kim set foot in Hanoi, everything changed, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported.

Vietnamese foreign ministry announced the Melia Hanoi Hotel, where Kim Jong Un is staying, would no longer host the press center for hundreds of visiting American journalists assigned to cover his second summit with Trump,” according to the report.

“With less than 24 hours notice, the White House press pool was instead relocated to a shared working space set up for visiting journalists at the Viet Xo Friendship Cultural Labor Palace, a giant Soviet-era edifice a few blocks from the Melia.”

After being greeted by a group of Vietnamese officials and an honor guard, a smiling Kim climbed into a black Mercedes sedan which took him to the Melia Hanoi Hotel in downtown Hanoi.

Those who not staying at the hotel are not allowed access, with local police and military officers providing the highest level of security, The Korea Times reported.

“A security scanner will be installed in our hotel lobby as part of diplomatic protocol due to the visit of a head of state staying at our hotel,” the hotel said in a note to its guests.

Kim will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Feb. 27 and 28.

Trump, after a 20-hour flight, arrived to a red-carpet welcome at 8:55 p.m. local time at Hanoi’s International Airport.

Ahead of the summit, a White House senior official said the president’s “overriding goal” would be the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The summit will also seek to form “a shared understanding of what denuclearization is,” according to the White House.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that on the first day of the summit Trump will hold a bilateral meeting with Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam’s new president. He will then have a working lunch with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

In the evening, Trump will meet Kim for a brief one-on-one conversation, followed by a social dinner, at which both leaders will each be accompanied by two guests and interpreters.

Sanders said there would be more meetings between the two leaders on the second day of the summit.

After the second Trump-Kim summit concludes, Kim is likely to visit a series of manufacturing sites in Vietnam.

Vietnam, also a communist country, is seen as a potential economic role model for North Korea. Kim has expressed his determination to open up the North’s closed economy, as Vietnam had done in the past.

Kim’s possible tour sites include the industrial port city of Haiphong, and Halong Bay, one of the country’s most famous tourist attractions.

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