Elu­sive Kim makes pho­to­jour­nal­ists’ job tough in Sin­ga­pore

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

UN­TIL the end of his first-ever meet­ing with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump on Tues­day, jour­nal­ists and pho­tog­ra­phers strug­gled to cap­ture images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose move­ments are of­ten shrouded in mys­tery.

But on the eve of the his­toric sum­mit, Kim, one of the world’s most se­cre­tive lead­ers, sud­denly ap­peared in pub­lic at the iconic Ma­rina Bay Sands ho­tel, giv­ing scores of peo­ple a rare chance to take pho­tos of him with their cam­eras and smartphones.

When Kim landed at about 2:30 pm, Sun­day, Sin­ga­pore time at Changi air­port and was en route to his ho­tel, pho­tog­ra­phers were not able to snap pic­tures of the leader as they were banned from en­ter­ing the tar­mac and Kim took off in a car with dark tinted win­dows.

Most jour­nal­ists con­firmed Kim’s ar­rival at the air­port via a Twit­ter mes­sage posted by Sin­ga­porean For­eign Min­is­ter Vi­vian Balakr­ish­nan with an image of them shak­ing hands at the foot of an air­plane board­ing ramp.

At the St. Regis ho­tel where Kim stayed, two Ky­odo News re­porters man­aged to spot the leader in the lobby at around 3:40 p.m., but they were pro­hib­ited from photo-tak­ing as strict se­cu­rity was in place.

It was not un­til Mon­day evening that the in­ter­na­tional media learned that Kim might make a late night sight­see­ing ex­cur­sion to the wa­ter­front Mer­lion Park. Some re­porters rushed with their cam­eras to the site where se­cu­rity had al­ready been ramped up.

Oth­ers, sens­ing an­other pos­si­bil­ity, headed to the Ma­rina Bay Sands ho­tel, known for the panoramic views from the Sands SkyPark Ob­ser­va­tion Deck on its 57th floor and for its in­fin­ity swim­ming pool.

Re­porters ar­rived at the ho­tel’s lobby to find many tourists and oth­ers gath­ered there in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a VIP’s ap­pear­ance.

“Who will come here? A celebrity?,” a tourist from a Western coun­try was heard ask­ing his friends.

“Nobody can­not go up to the pool and bar be­cause of main­te­nance,” a ho­tel worker said.

“I read a Straits Times story re­port­ing that Kim Jong Un will come here,” a Malaysian fe­male tourist in her 40s told Ky­odo News ex­cit­edly, re­fer­ring to Sin­ga­pore’s ma­jor English-lan­guage daily.

One of the guests at the ho­tel said he rushed down­stairs wear­ing only a bathrobe, af­ter hear­ing of a com­mo­tion in the lobby.

Around 9:50 p.m., Kim, clad in a black Mao-style suit and sur­rounded by body­guards, emerged from a car and en­tered the ho­tel’s Tower 3, which has an el­e­va­tor linked to the SkyPark. The lobby erupted with ap­plause and shouts.

Many tourists, in­clud­ing one who used a selfie stick, as well as jour­nal­ists and pho­tog­ra­phers, eas­ily suc­ceeded in tak­ing pho­tos and videos of the elu­sive North Korean leader with their cam­eras and smartphones.

“Was that re­ally Kim Jong Un? I was re­ally lucky to be here,” a Chi­nese fe­male tourist said, adding, “I am won­der­ing if he was not wor­ried about an at­tack or assassination.”

A Ja­panese jour­nal­ist, mean­while, said, “I wanted to pho­to­graph Kim at a place where nobody is.”

Around 20 min­utes later, Kim came down­stairs and got straight into a car. After­ward, he walked on a bridge near Mer­lion Park.

“Kim said Sin­ga­pore is clean and beau­ti­ful and ev­ery build­ing is stylish as he heard of in the past, adding he is go­ing to learn a lot from the good knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence of Sin­ga­pore in var­i­ous fields in the fu­ture,” Py­ongyang’s of­fi­cial Korean Cen­tral News Agency re­ported.

– Ky­odo

Photo: Ky­odo

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) vis­its the Ma­rina Bay Sands ho­tel, a pop­u­lar tourist spot in Sin­ga­pore on Mon­day.

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