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[Focus] Kim Jong-Il learning capitalism

Posted January. 19, 2001 13:16,   


North Korea's Kim Jong-Il, chairman of its all-powerful National Defense Commission, continued his "learning in Shanghai" on Thursday.

After visiting foreign enterprises in Shanghai, including NEC on Wednesday, Kim stopped over at Shanghai Stock Exchange, Dongfang Minzhu Tower, Baosan Steel Plant and the U.S.-invested computer factory Dell to witness the changes in the financial capital of China.

He went up and stayed for half an hour at the 468-meter tower, the tallest broadcasting tower in China and the second highest in the world, local sources said.

During his visit to the Shanghai bourse the North Korean leader, in his usual khaki people's uniform, was briefed on the number of listed companies and the scope of transactions, showing keen interest in the trading floor activity. The exchange manager showed him around the bourse. Kim was accompanied by an entourage much smaller than before.

"I almost could not recognize him because he went tripping past the floor," an exchange official said.

With the Shenzen Stock Exchange, the Shanghai bourse is a symbol of China's reform and opening. More than 460 listed firms and 20,000 investors are doing business on the floor.

Nobody could tell where the party of North Korean strongman would be headed next. An observer said Kim would go to and stay overnight in Suzhou, where many foreign-invested businesses are located. A diplomatic source in Nanjing said Kim was to visit and stay overnight in Nanjing, which once was visited by his late father, Kim Il-Sung. But he returned to the International Convention Center hotel at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, and it was confirmed that he would spend one more night in Pudong.

According to sources, Chairman Kim appeared to have been struck with admiration by the spectacular change in the Pudong district from a wasteland into a bustling industrial center. Whenever he passed skyscrapers dotting downtown Pudong, Kim asked about their names and costs of construction. He was reportedly impressed by the people of Pudong district, who are better dressed in Western style and walking more briskly than the residents of Beijing, where he visited last May.

Lee Jong-Hwan ljhzip@donga.com