Kim’s uncle in Beijing for talks on economy

Kim’s uncle in Beijing for talks on economy

SEOUL - Reuters
Kim’s uncle in Beijing for talks on economy

North Korean leader Kim’s uncle Jang (L) visits Beijing to discuss cooperation on economics. Kim is believed to be planning to carry out economic reforms. REUTERS photo

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle, the man seen as the power behind the young and untested dictator, went to Beijing on Aug. 13 in the latest signal that the reclusive state is looking seriously at ways to revive its broken economy.

The official KCNA news agency said Jang Song-thaek was visiting China, the North’s only major ally, to discuss setting up joint commercial projects and comes after leader Kim recently told Beijing that his priority is to develop his impoverished country’s decaying economy.

Economy will be discussed

KCNA said the meeting is to discuss the joint economic projects in Rason on the North’s east coast, and in Hwanggumphyong, an area on the border between the two countries that is yet to be developed.
Last month, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing told the North was gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after Kim and his powerful uncle purged the country’s top general for opposing change. Kim Jong-un, who took over the state’s family dictatorship when his father died in December, has presented a sharply contrasting image to his father and is believed to be planning to carry out economic and agricultural reform.

The visit by Jang, who has long advocated economic reforms in one of Asia’s poorest states, follows growing speculation that Pyongyang and its new leaders want bring changes to the way the economy is managed. “There is an element of explaining to China the reforms and opening that Kim Jong-un has been planning and of seeking support by China, which will be crucial” said Yang Moo-jin of University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.