Chairman of the Workers’ Party and the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un paid an official friendship visit to Vietnam at the invitation of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee and President Nguyen Phu Trong.
Taking place more than 60 years after the first visit to Vietnam by DPRK founder Chairman Kim Il Sung in 1958 and ahead of the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties in 2020, Chairman Kim’s visit will mark a new historical milestone in the rich relations between the two countries and two parties. Vietnam-DPRK friendship unceasingly consolidated, developed The bilateral diplomatic relations, founded and nurtured by President Ho Chi Minh and DPRK Chairman Kim Il-sung on January 31, 1950, have been increasingly strengthened over the past seven decades, evidenced by the exchange of visits with more than 50 delegations at the ministerial level and above.
Seven years after the establishment of the bilateral diplomatic relations, President Ho Chi Minh paid the first official visit to the Northeast Asian country from July 8-12, 1957. A grand ceremony was held to welcome the Vietnamese leader and a high-ranking delegation from the country’s Party and State.
One year later, DPRK Prime Minister Kim Il-sung visited Vietnam from October 28 to December 2. Vietnamese people waved nationals flags of both countries on Hanoi streets.
During his six-day trip to Vietnam, PM Kim visited Nam Dinh textile factory, Vietnam Military Museum, and an agricultural cooperative in Quan La village, Xuan La commune, Hanoi city’s Tu Liem district, which was later called Vietnam-DPRK friendship cooperative.
Highlights of Kim’s visit in 1958 were the Vietnam-DPRK Joint Statement and the signing of the Vietnam-DPRK trade agreement. Kim returned for another trip to Vietnam in 1964. From the end of 2000s, the Vietnam-DPRK diplomatic relations have been fortified, with DPRK visits by Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh in 2007 and Minister of Public Security Le Hong Anh in 2008, and Vietnam visits by DPRK President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong-nam in 2001 and Premier Kim Yong-Il in 2007.
A highlight in bilateral relations is the Vietnam-DPRK Friendship Kindergarten in Hanoi and the Vietnam-DPRK Friendship Kyongsang Kindergarten in Pyongyang. The construction and facilities of the Hanoi school were supported by the DPRK.
Vietnam offered the DPRK 100 tonnes of rice aid in 1995 and another 13,000 tonnes in 1997. From 2000 to 2012, it supported the DPRK with 22,700 tonnes of rice, 5 tonnes of material rubber, and 50,000 USD in emergency aid. It offered 70,000 USD in flood relief to the Northeast Asian nation in 2016.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the DPRK helped train hundreds of Vietnamese students. At present, its Education Commission and the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training are promoting the signing of an educational cooperation agreement. Meanwhile, since 2013, Vietnam has sent art troupes every two years to attend the April spring arts festival in Pyongyang. Shortly after arriving in Hanoi for the second summit with the US on February 26, Chairman Kim Jong-un visited the DPRK Embassy and urged the embassy’s staff to work harder to promote the cooperation and friendship between the two Parties and States. Vietnam, DPRK bolster all-round cooperation Over the past few years, the two countries have held rotary policy discussions at the deputy foreign ministerial level and meetings of the inter-governmental committee for economic, scientific and technical cooperation. Many important deals have been inked, including agreements on cultural cooperation, scientific-technical cooperation, trade and navigation, healthcare and civil air transport cooperation. In 2002, the two sides signed agreements on sea transport, trade, mutual legal assistance, investment promotion and protection, and double-taxation avoidance. In a visit to Vietnam in November 2018, DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho emphasised the DPRK Party and Government’s consistent stance of treasuring and fostering the traditional friendship with Vietnam. The DPRK side also agreed to coordinate with Vietnam to consider suitable measures for strengthening bilateral ties. During the visit, the two sides also agreed to keep working closely at international and regional forums like the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the ASEAN Regional Forum, as well as to increase the exchange of views on issues of common concern. The MoU signing ceremony in agricultural technical cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Academy of Agricultural Science of the DPRK on October 30, 2014 (Photo: VNA) Most recently, from February 12 to 14, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh paid an official visit to the DPRK. He affirmed that based on the consistent foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development, diversification and multilateralisation of international relations, being friend and reliable partner and responsible member of the international community, the Vietnamese Party, Government and people want to maintain and promote the traditional friendship with the DPRK’s counterparts.
DPRK Party and Government’s consistent policies are to treasure and consolidate the traditional friendship with Vietnam
Aside from the bilateral friendship, the two countries’ economic links have also continually been strengthened, although they remain modest. Bilateral trade reached 8 million USD in 2014 and 11.6 million USD in 2015. Vietnam’s exports to the DPRK were estimated at 2.99 million USD in 2016, 7.32 million USD in 2017, and 497,000 USD in the first nine months of 2018. This latest official visit to Vietnam by Chairman Kim Jong-un aims to step up cooperation between the two Parties and countries in line with each country’s interests, laws, and international commitments and thereby contributing to regional peace, cooperation, and development.