By Kim Se-jeong
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il publicly emphasized the importance of strong ties with China, the North’s state-owned Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Tuesday.
Kim’s comments come as the two allies are in the midst of a power change. Xi Jinping, the son of a communist revolutionary hero,
paved his way to become the next leader of China, Monday. Xi, 57, was appointed vice chairman of the Chinese Central Military Committee, a sign that he would succeed current President Hu Jintao in 2013.
North Korea heir Kim Jong-un took senior military and party posts in a rare North Korean Workers’ Party meeting on Sept. 28.
After watching an opera “The Butterfly Lovers,” a tragic Chinese love story performed by a North Korean dance company, Kim said, “it’s good that we completed another Chinese opera on the same year when we recognize the 60th year of China’s participation during the Korean War to help us.
“The leadership and people in North Korea have a firm determination to maintain a close friendship with China and to develop it further.”
Kim added, “There’s no doubt that cultural exchange between countries plays an important role in enhancing mutual understanding
and cooperation. To this end, I’d encourage cultural organizations to do more.”
The KCNA wasn’t clear about exactly when he watched the performance.
On many fronts, world’s most isolated regime relies heavily on China ― during the Korean War, the latter dispatched soldiers crossing the border to help its communist neighbor.
Currently, China is North’s biggest trade partner and an aid donor.
On the political front, as shown by Kim Jong-il’s visit in August, the way North Korea approaches China is incomparable.
Kim Jong-il’s sudden visit there when former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was waiting to meet him in Pyongyang, is understood as a move to seek political support for his third son Jong-un’s succession.
“The Butterfly Lovers” often regarded as a Chinese version of “Romeo and Juliet” was submitted to UNESCO in 2006 as an example of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”