North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had proposed opening a North Korean beer brewery in Russia’s Far East on his Trans-Siberian journey this week, an official who accompanied the reclusive leader said yesterday.
Viktor Ishayev, who is Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s envoy to the Russian Far East, told journalists that he traveled on Kim’s armored train for five days and accompanied the North Korean leader in Russia.
“Kim Jong-il said they are ready to build a brewery here,” Ishayev told journalists in Khabarovsk, a city in the Russian Far East, RIA Novosti reported.
“We already have Baltika [a Russian brewery], we have Chinese and Japanese and German beer. Who would be opposed to adding Korean beer?” he said.
Kim’s highly secretive trip to Russia this week was the third since 2001. On Wednesday he met Medvedev at a military garrison in the Buddhist region of Buryatia. He crossed the border into China on Thursday.
It was not the first time the subject of beer came up on a Kim visit. In 2001, he visited the Baltika brewery in the northwestern city Saint Petersburg and tasted the company’s products.
His latest trip included forays to lake Baikal, a hydropower plant, and the famous 8m high monument of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin’s head in Ulan-Ude. Kim also wanted to know which Russian cities would be best for opening Korean restaurants, Ishayev said.
“It was very pleasant to talk to him,” Ishayev said, adding that Kim was constantly working while on the train, which has an austere beige interior.
“It doesn’t feel like an armored train, it’s a very smooth ride,” he said.