When Putin met Kim: Leaders cement alliance with limo drive, concert and pony stroking outing

20 June 2024, 16:45

When Putin met Kim: Leaders cement alliance with limo drive, concert and pony stroking outing
When Putin met Kim: Leaders cement alliance with limo drive, concert and pony stroking outing. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Vladimir Putin has departed North Korea following a summit where he reignited his "firey friendship" with Kim Jong Un.

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After feeding horses, petting dogs, and driving through the streets of Pyongyang together, the two despots agreed their countries would use all available means to provide immediate military assistance in the event of war, according to North Korean state media.

Kim and Putin described the deal, reached at a Pyongyang summit on Wednesday, as a major upgrade of bilateral relations, covering security, trade, investment, cultural and humanitarian ties.

Despite forming a serious bilateral defence agreement, the two still found time to enjoy themselves and each other's company and reignite what Kim described as their "firey friendship".

Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin walk through a garden of the Kumsusan State Guest House in Pyongyang
Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin walk through a garden of the Kumsusan State Guest House in Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy

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Feeding a horse

Putin and Kim bonded over their shared love of animals during the trip.

Kim was pictured feeding a horse during the summit, as Putin looked on and stroked the animal's head.

Both despots have frequently been pictured with horses in their own propaganda.

Putin notoriously rode a horse while shirtless - an image intended to portray his toughness and manliness to the Russian people.

Kim has also been photographed riding a white stallion through Mount Paektu - but wearing a thick brown coat, instead of being shirtless.

Kim Jong Un feeds a horse as Vladimir Putin watches on at a garden of the Kumsusan State Guest House in Pyongyang
Kim Jong Un feeds a horse as Vladimir Putin watches on at a garden of the Kumsusan State Guest House in Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy

'Carpool Karaoke' drive

Putin and Kim were also pictured laughing with one another as they drove through the streets of Pyongyang in a luxury limousine - gifted to the North Korean dictator from his Russian counterpart.

The images were described as reminiscent of James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke - where the chat show host would drive around the streets of Los Angeles, singing along with popstars and their back catalogue of songs.

Both Putin and Kim took turns driving around the North Korean capital as footage showed them joking with one another and exchanging stories.

The gift of the Russian-made Aurus car was intended to reinforce the country's strong relationship ahead of signing a mutual defence agreement.

Kim Jong Un drives a car presented by Vladimir Putin at a garden of the Kumsusan State Guest House in Pyongyang
Kim Jong Un drives a car presented by Vladimir Putin at a garden of the Kumsusan State Guest House in Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un drive a Russian Aurus limousine during their meeting in Pyongyang
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un drive a Russian Aurus limousine during their meeting in Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un ride on an open car as they parade during the official welcome ceremony at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un ride on an open car as they parade during the official welcome ceremony at the Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy

Sharing 'pent up inmost thoughts'

Putin and Kim are said to have shared their "pent-up inmost thoughts" during the summit in as they pledged to forge a new "multi-polar world" and signed a "defence pact".

Kim said he gave Putin his "consistent and unwavering support", as he backed Russia's war in Ukriane.

The Korean Central News Agency said "the top leaders exchanged their pent-up inmost thoughts" and "opened their minds to more surely develop the DPRK-Russia relations in conformity with the common desire and will of the peoples of the two countries".

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un attend a concert in Pyongyang
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un attend a concert in Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un toast during a reception at the Mongnangwan Reception House in Pyongyang
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un toast during a reception at the Mongnangwan Reception House in Pyongyang. Picture: Getty

Exchanging gifts of dogs and paintings

Putin and Kim exchanged several gifts throughout the summit - including two dogs, a painting, a tea set, an admiral’s dirk, a series of busts and the Aurus limousine.

A Kremlin aide said the tea set, gifted by Putin was “very beautiful”, according to Russia’s Tass state news agency.

He said Putin also received “very good presents”.

Kim gave Putin a pair of native Pungsan hunting dogs – the same gift he gave to Moon Jae-in, the former South Korean president, in 2018.

Kim Jong Un presents a pair of Pungsan dogs to Russia's President Vladimir Putin at a garden of the Kumsusan State Guest House in Pyongyang
Kim Jong Un presents a pair of Pungsan dogs to Russia's President Vladimir Putin at a garden of the Kumsusan State Guest House in Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy
Kim Jong Un shows a gift to Vladimir Putin at the state guest house in Pyongyang
Kim Jong Un shows a gift to Vladimir Putin at the state guest house in Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy

Waving goodbye

Putin and Kim showcased their personal and geopolitical ties throughout the visit, even hugging twice at the airport.

Kim personally greeted and embraced Putin as the Russian leader touched down at Sunan International Airport.

They then hugged again as Putin departed in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Standing on the tarmac, Kim waved up at his Russian counterpart as Putin peeked through the window to gesture back.

Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un hug during the departure ceremony at an international airport outside Pyongyang
Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un hug during the departure ceremony at an international airport outside Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy
Vladimir Putin waves from the plane during a departure ceremony at the airport after Russian-North Korean talks
Vladimir Putin waves from the plane during a departure ceremony at the airport after Russian-North Korean talks. Picture: Getty
Kim Jong Un waves as Russian President Vladimir Putin departs at an international airport outside Pyongyang
Kim Jong Un waves as Russian President Vladimir Putin departs at an international airport outside Pyongyang. Picture: Alamy

Following their summit, Kim said the two countries had a "fiery friendship" and that the deal was their "strongest-ever treaty," putting the relationship at the level of an alliance.

He vowed full support for Russia's war in Ukraine. Putin called it a "breakthrough document" reflecting shared desires to move relations to a higher level.

North Korea and the former Soviet Union signed a treaty in 1961, which experts say necessitated Moscow's military intervention if the North came under attack.

The deal was discarded after the collapse of the USSR and replaced in 2000 by one that offered weaker security assurances.

A full day after the summit, South Korean officials said they were still interpreting the results, including what Russia's response might be if the North comes under attack.

Analysts were mixed on whether the agreement obligates Russia to an automatic military intervention on behalf of the North in war situations or was carefully worded enough to avoid such a commitment.

It also was not immediately clear why the article invokes the UN Charter.

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