Information Blackout for Kim China Trip

[imText1]Kim Jong Il’s latest visit to China was apparently placed under such a blanket of secrecy within North Korea that even in Manpo, the border city in Jakang Province that Kim passed through en route, nobody knew he was coming.

As a source from Jakang Province reported to The Daily NK today, “I never knew that the General (Kim Jong Il)’s No. 1 Train had passed through Manpo. The only story I heard was that on the night of the 25th, escort forces were reinforced because a significant meeting was being held in Manpo, but there was nothing unusual.”

He added, “Who would even think that the General might go to China through Manpo? There have been some rare cases of him coming to Manpo by train, but last year when he came here for an onsite inspection, he used his car.”

There are only three international railroad connections between North Korea and China: at Shinuiju in North Pyongan Province, which connects at Dandong; at Namyang in North Hamkyung Province which enters China at Tumen; and at Manpo in Jakang Province, which connects with the Chinese railroad network at Jian. However, the line between Manpo and Jian is only for freight, and Kim Jong Il’s private train had hitherto never passed along this line and into China.

In terms of publicity, Kim Jong Il’s visits to neighboring countries are usually reported only after he returns to the North, so a degree of secrecy is not abnormal. North Korean residents hardly ever know of Kim’s plans to go overseas in advance.

However, when he visited China through Shinuiju in May, observant or connected citizens caught wind of his arrival thanks to the intense security that normally accompanies his movements; local agents from the People’s Safety Ministry and National Security Agency and escort forces from Pyongyang were present in large numbers along the railroad.

But this time, the whole escort project seems to have been deliberately hidden from view, so none of the residents of Manpo seem to have had any idea.

On this secrecy, a source from Shinuiju commented in another interview, “We didn’t have any way to work out that the General was visiting China, since most of us are pressed by flood restoration.”

Besides, he added, “I wish he had come to Shiuiju to take care of the people who suffered, but he would never think of that.”