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View more articles by Dagyum Ji
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
With less than 24 hours to go until North Korea’s Kim Jong Un meets U.S. President Donald Trump, security is tight in and around the temporary residences of the two leaders.
Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump are, respectively, staying the St. Regis and Shangri-la hotels in central Singapore.
Visits to both on Monday saw NK News encounter police road blocks and strict prohibitions about when – and where – photography was permitted.
Cars were restricted from entering areas in the vicinity of the temporary residences of the two leaders, while those on foot were permitted to walk down streets under tightened security.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, restrictions around the St. Regis was markedly stricter than those at the Shangri-la, however.
Local police by and large declined to comment on precisely how many of their colleagues had been deployed, referring NK News instead to their press department.
A spokesperson for the Singapore Police Force later pointed NK News to comments by the country’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on Sunday.
“We are confident that we have put security in place,” Shanmugam said yesterday. “We have 5000 Home Team officers such as police and emergency response teams like civil defence.”
But they declined to comment on what kinds of specific security requests the North Koreans had submitted.
For much of the front of the St. Regis – where Kim Jong Un is believed to be staying until Tuesday afternoon – photography was not permitted.
Scores of police were on duty at the entrance and exit of restricted areas nearby St. Regis, with multiple signs reading: “Police Checks, Comply with Orders.”
Two or three armed police were seen standing almost every two or three meters to check passengers walking down the street.
Around ten police cars, an emergency rescue response car, special rescue unit cars, and others were also deployed nearby.
Media were earlier not permitted to enter the hotel and police were seen by NK News checking vehicles with metal detectors before they entered.
NK News later, however, gained access to the hotel lobby following multiple rounds of questioning by local authorities.
What appeared to be likely several North Korean secret service agents were seen upon entering the St. Regis, all of whom appeared to be waiting for an unknown individual to arrive.
Despite this, rooms are still available at the hotel, a member of staff told NK News, with prices starting at 450 Singapore Dollar (SGD).
The more closed-off St. Regis contrasted markedly with security at the Shangri-la hotel, where President Trump is staying.
Around roughly 0900 local time only two police were seen standing at the entry of a restricted area, while five police officers were on duty at the entrance of the hotel.
Reporters were permitted to enter the hotel and take photos outside and inside of the building.
Rules forbidding photography were also much more ambiguous, with police appearing to be unsure about whether it was permitted or not.
The two leaders are set to begin historic talks around 0900 local time on Tuesday, and will meet at the Capella Hotel on the small island of Sentosa.
Security there is set to be tight, too, with local media reporting security checks and road closures are expected.
Kim Jong Un arrived in Singapore on Sunday and held talks with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his sole official meeting since his arrival.
Trump also arrived in the country on the same day, holding a bilateral meeting with Lee on Monday around midday.
Additional reporting by Chad O’Carroll
Featured image: NK News