I have always admired President Xi Jinping and warmly congratulated him last year when he won reelection as general secretary of the central committee, and this year I again sent my regards after he was reelected president in a way that means president for life. Even these overtures seemed insufficient, so I conveyed to President Xi my desire, and indeed my obligation, to congratulate him in person and at the same time discuss not merely our personal comradeship but the special relationship between our two nations. He promptly invited me to visit and confer with him in Beijing.
It is outrageous that a distant enemy presented such a threat that I dared not fly. Instead, I secretly escorted my lovely wife Ri Sol Ju and my diplomatic team onto my dark green armored train, blackened by thick windows, and for the first time moved toward the vast and mysterious land to our north. President Xi and the Chinese delegation greeted us affectionately before we were taken to our quarters to rest prior to essential talks in the morning.
Flanked by his closest associates, President Xi sat across a long table from me, and my dedicated advisors, and said, “The visit of President Kim comes at a special time and is of great significance because it embodies the importance that he and his nation attach to the relations between our two countries.”
“I’m most honored to be here,” I said. “This is a critical period since the situation in the Korean Peninsula is developing rapidly, many important changes have taken place, and I feel I should personally inform President Xi out of respect and moral responsibility.”
“Thank you,” said Xi. “Our traditional friendship, established and cultivated meticulously by the elder generations of leaders of both countries, is precious and continues to be based on sharing common ideals and beliefs as well as profound revolutionary respect. For several generations the leaders of our two countries have trusted and supported each other, and written a fine story in the history of international relations. Instead of not staying in touch, as has been the case in recent years, we need to resume close exchanges and pay frequent calls on each other like relatives. We’ve long supported each other and coordinated practices that made great contributions to the development of the socialist cause.
“Both President Kim and I have personally experienced and witnessed the development of the China-North Korea relationship. Both sides have repeatedly stated that our traditional friendship should be passed on continuously and improved.”
Exhaling in relief, I smiled at President Xi and his advisors, and said, “I’m greatly encouraged and inspired by the president’s view that the North Korea-China friendship is unshakable. It is a strategic choice of North Korea to pass on and develop our relationship with China, even under the new situation. We now believe that our commitments to each other will remain unchanged under any circumstances.
“On this current visit I plan to establish a permanent bridge to meet Chinese comrades, enhance strategic communication, and deepen traditional friendship. I hope to have opportunities to meet with President Xi often, and keep close contacts through special envoys and personal letters to each other. In this way we can promote a new level of relations between our two countries.”
President Xi nodded and said, “In China we’ve drawn a grand blueprint for building the nation into a great modern socialist country in all respects – building a moderately prosperous society by 2020, and achieving modernization by 2035, and building a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful by the middle of the century.
“I’ve noted that President Kim has led the people of his nation in a series of active measures that generated achievements in developing the economy and improving people’s wellbeing. We Chinese expect North Korea to maintain political stability, economic development, and people’s happiness. We support President Kim in leading the people of his nation to advance along the path of socialism as well as endeavors that develop the economy and improve people’s livelihood.”
On this greatest day of my life I was no longer seeing fireballs envelop our nation. I was saying, “I sincerely hope China will continuously make new great achievements in the course of building a prosperous society and great socialist nation.”
President Xi paused, studied me in a concerned way, and said, “Regarding the Korean Peninsula issue, China sticks to the goal of denuclearization of the peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula, and solving problems through dialogue and consultation.
In that regard, China calls on all parties to support the improvement of inter-Korean ties, and take concrete efforts to facilitate peace talks. China will continue to play a constructive role on the issue and work with all parties toward the thaw of the situation on the peninsula.”
“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is starting to get better,” I said. “My nation has taken the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks. It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of the late President Kim Il Sung and the late President Kim Jong Il. We are determined to transform the inter-Korean ties into a relationship of reconciliation and cooperation and hold summit meetings between the heads of the two sides. North Korea is also willing to have a dialogue with the United States and hold a summit meeting between the heads of the two sides.
“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace. North Korea hopes to enhance strategic communication with China during the process and jointly safeguard the trend of consultation and dialogue as well as peace and stability on the peninsula.”
President Xi rose and walked around the table and I stood to shake his hand. That afternoon my wife and I toured the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and in the evening President Xi and his pretty wife Peng Liyan hosted us for a banquet at the magnificent Great Hall of the People. Aided by an interpreter, we happily talked and toasted and later watched an artistic performance as we anticipated a peaceful future.
Notes: Most of the sentences and sentiments quoted or paraphrased above came from Chinese and North Korean news releases after the summit meeting. I have eliminated long political titles by referring to the two leaders as president.