North Korean leader arrives in Chinese city: TV

It remains unclear whether Kim Jong-Il was accompanied by his youngest son.

Last Updated: May 21, 2011, 09:54 AM IST

Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il arrived at a key northeastern Chinese city on the second day of a secretive trip to his impoverished state`s main benefactor, a South Korean TV report said.

Kim`s special train, which left Mudanjiang City in Heilongjiang Province late Friday, was seen pulling into the railway station in Changchun, capital of Jilin Province, YTN TV said.

During his last visit in August 2010, Kim had a summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao at Changchun, an economic hub. Hu urged him to open up the North`s state-directed economy.

Security was tightened at the Changchun railway station and there was also a large police presence along the street from the station to a luxury hotel in the city, the reports said. Kim stayed at the hotel during his last visit.

It remains unclear whether Kim was accompanied by his youngest son and heir apparent Kim Jong-Un. The official list of Kim`s 70-member entourage did not show the son`s name, Yonhap news agency said, quoting a source.

Experts said the trip reflects the North`s dire need for China`s help and aid to ease economic difficulties and food shortages amid ongoing international sanctions over its nuclear ambitions.

His visit also shows Kim senior is firmly in charge despite his health, they said.

Kim, now 69, suffered a stroke in August 2008 and has since then been putting in place a succession plan involving Jong-Un.

The son, believed aged 27, was made a four-star general last September and given major posts in the ruling communist party to confirm his status as leader-in-waiting.

Previous trips by Kim Jong-Il to China have been shrouded in secrecy, with state-controlled media in both countries reporting them only after they end.

Bureau Report