SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Un went on an evening tour of Singapore on Monday, posing with city-state officials at a tropical garden before visiting an infinity pool atop a landmark waterfront hotel, to the surprise of guests.
Kim arrived in Singapore on Sunday for a historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday aimed at getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and missiles in exchange for economic incentives and security guarantees.
The young North Korean leader is staying under heavy guard at a city centre hotel and had not appeared in public on Monday until about 9 p.m., when one of his security officials buzzing about the hotel lobby shouted “It’s all ready!”
Kim suddenly emerged in his trademark Mao-style suit to walk out to his black limousine, accompanied by his sister, Kim Yo Jong, and aides.
Reuters staff around the city tracked his motorcade, which included bus loads of security personnel and aides, escorted by dozens of Singapore police officers on motorbikes.
His first stop was a park with futuristic, tree-shaped installations, Gardens by the Bay, which also boasts the largest glass greenhouse and tallest indoor waterfall in the world.
He joined Singapore’s foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, who tweeted a selfie with a smiling Kim and Singapore Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, against a backdrop of flowers with the hashtag #Guesswhere.
Kim thanked the Singapore officials for showing him around so late at night, the North’s state news agency said on Tuesday.
Kim then stopped at the Marina Bay Sands hotel, which resembles a giant surfboard perched on three tall columns, for a look out over the bright city lights from its rooftop garden and infinity swimming pool.
Singapore was “clean and beautiful”, Kim said on the observation deck, adding that he aimed to learn from the knowledge and experience of the southeast Asian nation, as he found it impressive, the official KCNA news agency added.
Surprised guests enjoying the relative cool of the tropical evening took pictures of a waving Kim with their cameraphones.
On the way back to his hotel, Kim walked along a promenade near the Merlion, a giant statue, and fountain, of a mythical creature, half lion, half fish - Singapore’s unofficial mascot.
Kim’s trip to Singapore is his furthest journey he has made since taking power in late 2011 upon his father’s death.
He has made two trips to China since March to meet President Xi Jinping, and held summit talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April and May in the Demilitarized Zone, which separates the two Koreas.
His excursion out of the hotel caused a big stir with guests who were told to get behind a barricade while dozens of North Korean security men and Singapore police officers and government officials blocked off the lobby.
“Oh my God, is Kim Jong Un coming?” shouted one guest, shortly before he appeared to set off for his evening jaunt.
Reporting by John Geddie, Grace Lee, Dewey Sim, Soyoung Kim and Jack Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez