By Phillip Orchard
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made another surprise visit to China on May 7 for a banquet and a languid stroll along the beach with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the coastal city of Dalian. According to a Chinese statement, Kim told Xi that he wants to focus on economic development now that he has “succeeded” at nuclear development. For much of the spring, Kim has been laying the groundwork for just such a move.
In a speech to the ruling Workers’ Party in April, Kim declared his country’s nuclear program complete and said Pyongyang’s strategy now rests on “socialist economic construction” – echoing former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s infamous push for “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” At the landmark summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in last month, Kim reportedly told Moon that he was interested in reforming similarly to how Vietnam, another communist country, did years before. Kim even made a rare ac