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Diplomacy-shy Kim Jong Un snuggles into his cocoon

Posted May. 02, 2015 07:05,   


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has cancelled his planned visit to Russia to attend Moscow`s World War II anniversary celebrations on May 9. Russia said the North Korean leader would not come to Russia due to some "internal North Korean issues." However, the South Korean government said it did not seem to be because of the North`s internal affairs.

Despite varying speculations about the cancellation, it should be seen as an indication that Kim is not ready to make his international diplomatic debut after all. It is disappointing that Kim, who has never met with a single foreign leader since he came to power three years ago, continues his isolation.

Russia`s announcement came just a day after South Korean spy chief Lee Byung-ho told the National Assembly`s intelligence committee that Kim`s visit to Russia was "highly likely." Although he added that it was hard to predict what would happen at the last minute because of the North Korean leader`s unpredictability, the National Intelligence Service yet again revealed its limits in intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities.

Considering that Russia`s foreign minister publicly said in March that Kim would visit Moscow, some analysts say that the two countries might have failed to narrow differences regarding the protocols and security for the North Korean leader. In North Korea, Kim is hailed by large groups of people waving flowers and applauding at him wherever he goes. Russia would have no reason for giving a special treatment to Kim. At an international event where leaders are ranked for protocol in order of the length of time in power, it is possible that Kim is given a backseat. Such a scene could have an adverse effect on North Korean people.

In addition, Kim could be in an embarrassing situation if he encounters protesters, including North Korean escapees. Pyongyang might also have been concerned about the global media`s attention to Kim and his activities. What would he say if foreign journalists pepper him with questions about the North`s human rights situation while he was walking into an event venue?

Kim`s cancelled visit has embarrassed Moscow, which wanted to promote the World War II anniversary events by inviting him amid boycotts by Western leaders due to the Ukraine crisis. China has also invited Kim to its World War II anniversary military parade scheduled for September, but there is no guarantee that he would go. If Kim finds multilateral diplomacy burdensome, he could probably make an international debut through bilateral summits. If he continues to snuggle into his cocoon, his country would remain isolated the way it had done under his father`s rule.