N. Korean paper quick to carry many photos of Kim’s Singapore trip

SEOUL: Just hours after Mr Kim Jong Un wrapped up a surprise sightseeing tour of Singapore on Monday, North Korean newspaper Rodong Sinmun crammed its front page with photos of the reclusive leader.

The official newspaper of the Workers' Party of Korea featured 14 photos covering over half of the front page of its issue yesterday, showing a jovial Mr Kim walking with Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and other Singaporean officials at Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands hotel.

The speed of the coverage in Rodong Sinmun and other state media like the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) is unusual in a country where events are often reported a full day, if not longer, after they happen.

The sense of fun in the reporting also contrasts with the more sober way in which the North Korean media would usually handle an official trip.

It appears to reflect a new confidence among officials in North Korea that the country has really been accepted onto the world stage.

North Korea's official media brought a large number of reporters and camera operators to Singapore for the trip, which began on Sunday, and they had access to various locations that was denied to media from elsewhere.

For previous trips by Mr Kim to China, state media had mostly reported the visits after Mr Kim had returned to Pyongyang. In the case of the inter-Korea summit on April 27, the coverage was largely delayed until early the next day.

KCNA reported Mr Kim as saying of the sightseeing tour that "Singapore is clean and beautiful, and every building is stylish as he heard of in the past, adding he is going to learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future".

On Monday, KCNA, Rodong Sinmun and state television used the same photographs of Mr Kim's arrival in Singapore and his meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.

At the truce village that divides the two Koreas, North Korean soldiers expressed enthusiasm for yesterday's Trump-Kim meeting.

"Our republic has been squeezed in between the great powers in the past... But today, we are showing our dignity as an independent nation in front of the whole world," said Lieutenant-Colonel Hwang Myong Jin.

But ordinary North Koreans are not confident improvement in US-North Korea relations will last long, defectors have said.

"They weren't too excited about the summit. North Korea had rice and medicine aid from the US and other countries before, but that did not trickle down to ordinary people," said Ms Park Hyun Sook, a defector who spoke to relatives in the North by phone last Saturday. - REUTERS, AFP