- Kim Jong Un welcomed Xi Jinping to North Korea on Thursday with a parade which featured a huge portrait of the Chinese leader’s face.
- Xi arrived in Pyongyang and was taken to the May Day Stadium where a special edition of North Korea’s annual propaganda festival the “Mass Games” was put on to mark his first-ever state visit.
- Xi and Kim sat together and watched as acrobats and synchronised dancers performed routines inspired by North Korean history and the country’s close relationship with China.
- One banner above the performers read: “Long live the unbreakable friendship and union between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Chinese people.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Kim Jong Un marked Xi Jinping’s visit to North Korea with an extravagant parade featuring a huge blown-up portrait of the Chinese president’s face.
Xi arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday for a two-day state visit and was driven to Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium along roads flanked by thousands of flag-waving North Koreans.
Thursday’s ceremony welcoming Xi was a special edition of North Korea’s annual Mass Games: a gigantic gymnastics performance held every year, featuring some 100,000 people performing synchronised dances, marches, and aerobics.
The May Day stadium is the largest in the world, with a capacity of 114,000.
Dancers and acrobats welcomed Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan, and performed displays extolling the virtues of North Korean society, and the country’s close relationship with China.
One banner which appeared in the stadium said that China and North Korea were “true and reliable comrades,” CNN reported.
Another read: “Long live the unbreakable friendship and union between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Chinese people.”
Footage from the parade was broadcast by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and state-run China Central Television (CCTV).
North Korean state media outlet KCNA wrote on Thursday that Kim had called the relationship between China and North Korea “invincible” and “unchangeable.”
During the visit, Kim and Xi held broad discussions over the political situation on the Korean Peninsula, and called for stronger bilateral ties in the face of “serious and complicated changes.”
North Korea and the US are currently stuck in a deadlock over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, with the US refusing to lift UN sanctions on North Korea until they denuclearize. North Korea has refused to do so.
Xi will meet Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 28, and may lobby Trump to ease sanctions on North Korea, which count China as its closest ally.
The special edition of the Mass Games put on for Xi is a surprise, as the future of this year’s festival seemed in doubt.
On June 6, two Beijing-based North Korea tour operators said North Korea was pausing the months-long games after just a few days because Kim said it wasn’t up to scratch.
This year’s ceremony – themed “The Land of the People” – was scheduled to take place from June to October.
Young Pioneer Tours and Koryo Tours confirmed the show would be suspended on June 10 because of Kim’s dissatisfaction.
It is not known if the games will restart after Thursday’s special edition, or whether the suspension will endure.
Kim Jong Il, Kim’s father and predecessor, said in 1987 that the group performances underlined the importance of communism.