North Korean leader Kim Jong-il returned home from a weeklong trip to China yesterday, saying that ties with Beijing are “sealed in blood” and set to grow for generations to come.
Kim’s third visit in just over a year was seen by many as an attempt to secure aid and support for his transfer of power to his youngest son, Kim Jong-un. North Korea said that Kim Jong-un “warmly greeted” his father at the border.
Kim Jong-il, in a thank-you letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), said the China-North Korea friendship, “sealed in blood and handed down by the elder generations of the two countries, will develop steadily through generations in the common interests and wishes of the two peoples,” according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
“During the visit, we realized the invincible vitality of the friendship daily growing stronger century after century,” he said.
North Korea is thought by many to be in dire need of outside help, and China is its only major ally. The UN World Food Programme launched a US$200 million international appeal late last month after it concluded that more than 6 million of the North’s 23 million people were in urgent need of aid.
A US delegation — led by Robert King, US special envoy for North Korean human rights issues — is visiting the North to verify food supply surveys by the UN and US-based charities and see if there are ways to monitor aid distribution.
Meanwhile, the North said it would free a US man detained for reportedly proselytizing after King expressed regret for the incident.
Eddie Jun was arrested in November last year and accused of committing a serious crime against the North, KCNA said. South Korean press reports said Jun, a Korean-American with business interests in North Korea, was accused of spreading Christianity.
King “expressed regret at the incident on behalf of the US government and assured that it would make all its efforts to prevent the recurrence of similar incident,” KNCA said.