North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on his way home after concluding a trip to Russia's Far East

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Russian media say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is on his way back home after concluding a trip to Russia’s Far East.

Russian state news agency RIA says a farewell ceremony was held for Kim on Sunday.

Since entering Russia aboard his armored train last Tuesday, Kim had met President Vladimir Putin and visited key military and technology sites, triggering outside concerns about an arms alliance between the two isolated nations.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story is below:

A day after inspecting Russia’s nuclear-capable bombers and other advanced weapons, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was in a lighter mode on Sunday, touring a university and watching a walrus show at a Russian aquarium as he continued a closely watched trip to Russia’s Far East.

North Korean state media highlighted the predominant focus of Kim’s trip, describing his discussions with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to expand “strategic and tactical coordination” between their countries’ militaries, as Western concerns grow about an arms alliance that could possibly fuel Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.

Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency released videos of Kim — dressed in a black suit and accompanied by his top officials — talking with Russian officials through translators as he walked through the campus of the Far Eastern Federal University in Russky Island.

Kim met with Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of Russia’s Primorye region, which includes the port city of Vladivostok, as well as Russian Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov and the university’s president, Boris Korobets, according to Russian state media.

An online video posted by Kozlov showed Kim being shielded from light rain as he was shown around the university campus. Kozlov told Kim there were North Koreans studying there and that the school would be glad to have North Korean students studying hydropower, according to Russian state media.

Kozhemyako had earlier said he would discuss with Kim exchange programs for schoolchildren to attend summer camps in each other’s country.

Kim was later seen at the island’s Primorsky Aquarium, Russia’s largest aquarium, where he watched performances featuring beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and “Misha” the walrus, which he seemed to particularly enjoy, according to Russian state media.

Kim’s trip, highlighted by a summit with Putin on Wednesday, has underscored how their interests are aligning in the face of separate, intensifying confrontations with the West. U.S. and South Korean officials have said North Korea could provide badly needed munitions for Moscow’s war on Ukraine in exchange for sophisticated Russian weapons technology that would advance Kim’s nuclear ambitions.

A day after visiting an aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur that produces Russia’s most powerful fighter jets, Kim on Saturday traveled to an airport near Vladivostok, where Shoigu and other senior military officials gave him an up-close look at Russia’s strategic bombers and other warplanes.

All the Russian warplanes shown to Kim were among the types that have seen active use in the war in Ukraine, including the Tu-160, Tu-95 and Tu-22 bombers that have regularly launched cruise missiles.

During Kim’s visit, Shoigu and Lt. Gen. Sergei Kobylash, the commander of the Russian long-range bomber force, confirmed for the first time that the Tu-160 had recently received new cruise missiles with a range of more than 6,500 kilometers (over 4,040 miles).

Shoigu, who had met Kim during a rare visit to North Korea in July, also showed Kim another of Russia’s latest missiles, the hypersonic Kinzhal, carried by the MiG-31 fighter jet, that saw its first combat during the war in Ukraine.

Kim and Shoigu later on Saturday traveled to Vladivostok, where they inspected the Admiral Shaposhnikov frigate. Russia’s navy commander, Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov, briefed Kim on the ship’s capabilities and weapons, which include long-range Kalibr cruise missiles that Russian warships have regularly fired at targets in Ukraine.

KCNA, which has reported Kim’s activities in Russia a day late while crafting the details to meet government propaganda purposes, said Kim was accompanied on Saturday’s visits by his top military officials, including his defense minister and the top commanders of his air force and navy.

Following a luncheon, Kim and Shoigu talked about the regional security environment and exchanged views on “practical issues arising in further strengthening the strategic and tactical coordination, cooperation and mutual exchange between the armed forces of the two countries,” KCNA said.

In their July meeting, Kim gave Shoigu a similar inspection of North Korean weapons systems before inviting him to a massive parade in the capital, Pyongyang, where he rolled out his most powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to target the United States.

Kim’s visits to military and technology sites this week possibly hint at what he wants from Russia, perhaps in exchange for supplying munitions to refill Putin’s declining reserves as his invasion of Ukraine becomes a drawn-out war of attrition.

Kim’s meeting with Putin was held at Russia’s main spaceport, a location that pointed to his desire for Russian assistance in his efforts to acquire space-based reconnaissance assets and missile technologies.

Experts have said potential military cooperation between the countries could include efforts to modernize North Korea’s outdated air force, which relies on warplanes sent from the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Kim in recent months has also refocused on strengthening the country’s navy, which analysts say could be driven by ambitions to obtain Russia’s sophisticated technologies for ballistic missile submarines and nuclear-propelled submarines as well as to initiate joint naval exercises between Russia and North Korea.

Later Saturday, Kim visited a local theater to watch Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty ballet performance. KCNA said Kim received a rousing ovation by people at the theater and expressed “deep thanks to the performers and the theater for their impressive and elegant ballet of high artistic value.”

Russian state media said Kim left after the first act. __ AP journalist Elise Morton contributed from London.


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