This picture taken on Feb 8, 2019 and released from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) shows DPRK leader Kim Jong-un delivering a speech during his visit at the Ministry of People's Armed Forces for the 71st founding anniversary of the Korean People's army in Pyongyang. (KCNA VIA KNS / AFP)
HANOI – Vietnam is preparing for the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un to arrive by train for his summit in Hanoi next week with President Donald Trump, according to two sources with direct knowledge of security and logistics planning.
It could take Kim at least two and a half days to travel the thousands of kilometers through China by train, from the DPRK capital of Pyongyang to Vietnam, meaning he would have to set off later this week in time for his planned Feb 25 arrival.
The Metropole Hotel, opposite the Government Guesthouse, will be a backup location for the summit, two sources told Reuters
Kim's train will stop at the Vietnamese border station of Dong Dang, where he will disembark and drive 170 km to Hanoi by car, the sources said.
Separately, three other sources with direct knowledge of the summit preparations told Reuters the preferred location for the Feb 27-28 meeting between Trump and Kim is the Government Guesthouse, a colonial-era government building in central Hanoi.
All five sources who spoke to Reuters said the plans were subject to change. The sources were not authorized to speak to the media because of the sensitivities surrounding the DPRK leader's travel plans.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told the summit organizing committee on Tuesday that security during the summit was "top priority", Vietnam's government said on its website on Wednesday.
The Metropole Hotel, opposite the Government Guesthouse, will be a backup location for the summit, two of the sources said.
On Saturday, a Reuters witness saw Kim Jong-un's close aide, Kim Chang Son, visiting the Government Guesthouse and the Metropole and Melia hotels in the center of the capital.
Kim could possibly stay in the Melia hotel during his visit, one of the sources said.
Workers perform repair works at the government guest house in preparation for the upcoming second summit between US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Feb 19, 2018. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Travel by train has been a favorite mode of transport for Kim Jong-un, and his father, Kim Jong-il, and grandfather, Kim Il-sung.
The DPRK experts have remarked on how Kim Jong-un's overseas visits, such as his state visit to China in January, are reminiscent of Kim Il-sung.
"(His father) Kim Jong-il was very reclusive. He didn't like meeting foreign delegations, and he didn't really enjoy going to foreign countries," said Thae Yong Ho, former DPRK deputy ambassador to Britain, who defected to the Republic of Korea in 2016, told media on Tuesday.
"But Kim Jong-un is a bit like Kim Il-sung. He really likes overseas activity," said Thae.
Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-sung, visited Vietnam twice, in 1958 and 1964.
A motorist rides past a hoarding for the upcoming second summit between US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, along a busy road in Hanoi, Vietnam, Feb 19, 2018. (NHAC NGUYEN / AFP)
In 1958, Kim Il-sung went from Pyongyang to Beijing by plane, then from Beijing to Guangzhou by train, then he appears to have crossed the border from China to Hanoi by plane, ROK newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun reported on Tuesday citing archived Chinese media reports.
In 1964, Kim Il-sung visited Vietnam using a Vickers Viscount aircraft provided by China that was the personal plane of Mao Zedong's second-in-command Lin Biao, Kyunghyang reported.
HONG KONG NEWS