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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korean vice defense minister Kim Hyong Ryong arrived in Beijing Thursday morning to attend a China-hosted annual security forum, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported, amid increasing military cooperation between the two countries.
Colonel General Kim, spotted at Beijing Capital International Airport, is believed to be attending the 9th Beijing Xiangshang Forum to be held between October 20 and 22 at the 9th Beijing International Convention Center, Yonhap reported citing an unnamed source.
The vice defense minister attended and delivered a speech at the 8th forum in October 2018, which also saw an impromptu ten-minute meeting with then-South Korean Vice Minister of National Defense Suh Choo-suk.
The South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Thursday declined to confirm to NK News if the incumbent vice defense minister Park Jae-in will take part in this year’s event.
The Beijing Xiangshang Forum is co-sponsored by the China Association for Military Science (CAMS), which was established in 2006.
The forum’s theme this year is “maintaining international order and promoting peace in the Asia-Pacific,” the official website says, adding that participants will discuss topics including “major country relations and international order” and “international arms control regime and global security.”
China had held the event once every two years until 2014, when it decided to host the event annually in what was seen as a move to rival the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
The North Korean military delegation’s visit to Beijing comes one day after Chinese military officials including Admiral Miao Hua, who serves as director of the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Communist Party of China (CPC), left Pyongyang after a three-day visit.
Hua and Director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Kim Su Gil held a high-level meeting Monday on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of PRC-DPRK diplomatic relations, which falls on October 6.
The visit by the high-level Chinese military delegation also coincided with the 69th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army’s entry into the Korean War on October 25, 1950.
On Wednesday, the Chinese delegation led by Hua paid a courtesy call to Ri Su Yong who serves as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), North Korean media reported.
Officials at the International Department of the Party Central Committee and the General Political Bureau of the KPA were present as well.
Tuesday saw the Chinese military officials visit the Sino-Korean Friendship Tower in Pyongyang, where they presented a basket of flowers with Hua’s name before the monument.
They also visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and paid tribute to the statues of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
The high-level military exchanges took place around two months after Kim Su Gil flew to Bejing in August and met senior Chinese officials including vice chairman of the CMC Zhang Youxia and Admiral Hua.
Edited by James Fretwell
Featured image: Beijing Xiangshang Forum’s official webpage