BBC: Kim Jong-un: The new kid on the diplomatic block

Kim Jong-un: The new kid on the diplomatic block

By Laura Bicker

BBC News, Seoul

Kim Jong-un has suddenly become the new popular leader in the political class of 2018. 

After years in isolation, he has emerged as a powerful player. Leaders from China, Russia, Syria, South Korea and the US have all met or are due to meet Mr Kim this year.

They are literally lining up. Vladimir Putin has just extended an invitation for him to come to Vladivostock in September and Syria's President Assad has said he would also like to visit Pyongyang.

"We are witnessing the making of 'Kim Jong-un, international statesman'," said Jean Lee, the former Associated Press bureau chief in Pyongyang. "This is such a different international debut than we saw in 2010, when Kim Jong-un stepped forward as the unknown, baby-faced heir apparent.

"Now, with a proven intercontinental ballistic missile under his belt, Kim is stepping out as the leader of a country that sees itself as a nuclear power on par with the world's other nuclear powers, including the United States. "