Kim Jong-un has withdrawn from reported plans to attend a World War II anniversary celebration in Moscow, according to a Kremlin rep. The trip would’ve marked the North Korean leader’s first official trip outside of his country since he assumed power in 2011.
Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, told Interfax that Kim backed out of the commitment because of “internal Korean affairs.” Kim was scheduled to meet with Putin during the trip, according to the Tass news agency; instead, the 31-year-old—who disappeared from public view for six weeks last year amid rumors of poor health—will remain in his country.
As far as is publicly known, Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il never made an appearance at multilateral meetings of foreign leaders. However, he visited China and Russia, his country’s two major allies, many times, traveling on an armored train because of his fear of flying. Kim Jong-un has yet to hold meetings with either the Chinese or Russian president.
The huge Victory Day celebration, which marks the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, has drawn criticism from European leaders after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and Kremlin reps have publicly announced Kim’s scheduled appearance several times this year. South Korean President Park Geun-hye has also declined to attend the celebration, though she will send a special envoy.