Kim Jong Il, Close-Up

Chinese blog “Danwei” has released an English translation of a blog post by a journalist who travelled to North Korea with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last week. In it the journalist describes her feelings as she travels around Pyongyang and upon seeing Kim Jong Il close up.

The journalist, Rose Luqiu Luwei, is executive news editor for Hong Kong channel Phoenix Satellite Television.

In her description of Kim at Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport, she describes a man who, although somewhat frail and balding, is more than capable of walking and seems comfortable enough. However, she is mostly struck by his complete indifference to the noise of the crowd chanting his name, noting how he “didn’t wave to the crowds, he didn’t even look,” and how, “When Premier Wen walked past to shake hands with the people, he stood far away, walking and talking with Kim Yong Nam.”

In some of her other interesting observations, Luqiu comments on the development of North Korean capitalism; when the Chinese group wanted to film the new North Korea-Singapore joint fast food venture, “Samtaesung Soft Drinks Shop,” they were told they would have to buy something or else it “would be disturbing their business, which wouldn’t be too good.”

In her view, “This was good, at least it showed that the North Koreans have the desire for money, and have a respect for financial reward earned through work.”

However, even a Chinese journalist has trouble getting access to real life in North Korea, and Luqiu was no different, commenting that “we couldn’t speak to locals and the impression that Pyongyang gave to us was only superficial.”