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Putin expected to visit Liberation Tower, attend concert in Pyongyang

Main events set to take place Wednesday, says Russia’s state-run news agency

June 18, 2024 - 15:23 By Jung Min-kyung
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (center left) and North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un (center right) visit the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the far eastern Amur region, Russia in September last year. (Reuters-Yonhap)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit a monument honoring the former Soviet war dead, attend a concert and have tea with his North Korean counterpart during his first visit to Pyongyang in 24 years, reports said Tuesday.

As Putin is scheduled to arrive in the capital on Tuesday evening, most of the main events, including meetings with Kim, are to be held Wednesday, Russia's state-run news agency Tass said, citing Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov.

The Russian leader is set to visit Yakutsk, a city located in the far east of Russia, some 4,900 kilometers from Moscow, before taking a three-hour flight to Pyongyang for his two-day trip.

Ahead of the summit, a lavish welcoming ceremony, introduction of delegations from both countries, an inspection of the North’s honor guard and a photo session are to take place. Kim and Putin are then set to sign and announce a joint statement through the press, an event that was absent in the previous summit between the two held at Russia’s Vostochny spaceport last year.

Ushakov said the unofficial meetings would involve tea times and strolls around the summit venue.

Before the meetings wrap up, Putin and Kim are also to attend a concert together at a sports stadium at the suggestion of the North, according to Ushakov. Though it has yet to be officially announced, it is speculated that the concert could be held at the multipurpose Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in the capital, where the North organized and performed a special mass gymnastics and artistic performance for Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit in July 2019.

However, recent satellite imagery from Planet Labs and Maxar Technologies showed preparations for a mass parade at Pyongyang’s main Kim Il Sung Square. The square is where all major parades in the reclusive nation are held.

Putin is then likely to visit the Liberation Tower, which commemorates the Soviet liberation of Pyongyang from Japanese rule in 1945. Built in 1947, it is one of the oldest memorials in Pyongyang. Putin previously visited the memorial to pay his respects during his trip to Pyongyang in 2000.

Ushakov did not mention whether Putin will pay tribute at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the bodies of the current leader's late grandfather Kim Il-sung and father Kim Jong-il lie in state. The Russian president also visited the mausoleum in 2000.

Putin is set to leave from Pyongyang for Hanoi, Vietnam, on Wednesday evening for another two-day trip, according to reports.