Mystery train leaves Beijing on return to N. Korea; Seoul seeks answers

by WorldTribune Staff, March 27, 2018

A South Korean government source said Seoul can’t yet rule out the possibility that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un secretly visited China via train ahead of upcoming talks with the presidents of South Korea and the United States.

A train believed to be carrying a senior North Korean delegation leaves the Beijing Railway Station in Beijing. / Reuters

A special North Korean train carrying a high-ranking North Korean delegation arrived in Beijing on March 26, according to Japanese media. Footage of the train from the Tokyo-based Nippon News Network showed a green carriage with yellow horizontal lines.

The train departed in the afternoon on March 27, reports said.

If Kim had visited Beijing, it would mark the leader’s first trip outside of North Korea since taking power after the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il, in 2011. Kim Jong-Il, met then-president Jiang Zemin in China in 2000 before a summit between the two Koreas in June that year.

Asked by Yonhap News to confirm whether Kim or other high-ranking North Korean officials, such as the leader’s sister Kim Yo-Jong or nominal state head Kim Yong-Nam, who represents the assembly, had visited the country, the Chinese ministry said, “There is nothing we are aware of.”

South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-Duk said that, “Seen from the past record, the Chinese government has a precedent of officially announcing human exchanges like this at a (later) time when it is deemed appropriate.”

“Our government is trying to thoroughly grasp the related situation, including whether the reports are true,” a South Korean Foreign Ministry official said, according to a Yonhap report. “(But) whether Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong-Un is visiting China has not been verified.”

Another ministry official also said details of the train’s arrival were not known. “The Chinese side does not appear to have provided related details.”

Yonhap reported that a government source in Seoul said, “There is not enough circumstantial evidence to indicate that Kim Jong-Un is visiting China … although the possibility cannot be ruled out.”

China’s Foreign Ministry declined to confirm the trip.

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