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Russia awards medal to no-show Kim

Russia honored Kim for maintaining World War II-era Soviet graves, but the reclusive North Korean leader sent another official to accept the award.

Published: May 5, 2020 11:59am

Updated: May 29, 2020 4:33pm

The Russian government on Tuesday awarded a World War II anniversary medal to North Korean leader Kim Jung Un in a Pyongyang ceremony, but the reclusive Kim did not appear in person to accept the honor.

The Russian ambassador to North Korea was tasked with giving the jubilee medal to Kim to thank him for commemorating the estimated 4,700 Soviet soldiers who died while wresting Korea from Japanese forces in 1945. 

The medal ceremony took place just days after Kim appeared in public for the first time in nearly three weeks, amid widespread speculation about him either being gravely ill, or dead.

The silver-colored medal, suspended from a ribbon, recognized Kim “for his great personal contribution to perpetuating the memory of Soviet citizens who died and were buried on the territory of the DPRK and for the concern for the safety of burial places and memorials of Soviet soldiers in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,” according to a translated statement on the Russian Embassy Facebook page.

One prominent memorial to Soviet soldiers is the Liberation Monument in Pyongyang. Others are located elsewhere in North Korea, according to the Russian Embassy.

When Kim did not appear at the Russian Embassy to receive his jubilee medal, Ambassador Alexander Matsegora gave it to North Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lee Song Gwon.

The men and their entourages appear in photographs wearing masks for the presentation. After the award ceremony, the officials drank tea. 

“Then they had a brief conversation, during which they confirmed the spirit of continuing active efforts to consistently implement the agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries in Vladivostok in April 2019, aimed at further developing and strengthening multifaceted Russian-Korean cooperation,” the Facebook statement read.


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