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Kim Jong Un visits China's 'Silicon Valley' during Beijing trip

By Elizabeth Shim
Kim Jong Un visits China's 'Silicon Valley' during Beijing trip
This image released on Wednesday by the North Korean Official News Service (KCNA), shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a visit to Beijing, China, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo

March 28 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un made a stopover at China's technology hub on Tuesday, a move possibly aligned with his pledge to accomplish an economic breakthrough for North Korea.

The reclusive North Korean leader made the visit to Zhongguancun, known as China's Silicon Valley, on Tuesday during his landmark summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Korean television network MBC reported Wednesday.

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Kim is known to be a tech aficionado, and under his rule North Korea has made advances into currency-earning schemes, like bitcoin mining.

Kim's visit to the technology hub in the Haidian District of Beijing echoed a trip his father, Kim Jong Il, made to the Pudong district of Shanghai 17 years ago.

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China has urged North Korea to step out of its economic isolation and pursue economic development.

Kim visited the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Sciences and tried on virtual reality headsets with his wife, Ri Sol Ju, according to MBC.

Kim is not the first in his family to visit Zhongguancun. His father visited the hub three times, and North Korea state media publicized the visits at the time.

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Zhongguancun was founded in 1988 and is home to the headquarters of leading Chinese firms Lenovo, Xiaomi and Baidu.

Kim's focus on the economy is raising speculation in South Korea that the North Korean leader may be serious about denuclearization, a step that could be met with economic aid packages from powerful economies like China's.

South Korean news network Channel A reported Wednesday Xi spent nearly six hours with Kim during the historic summit.

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China's VIP treatment of Kim, previously condemned in Beijing for his nuclear weapons development, was evident across the lavish dinners and accommodations included in his itinerary.

Kim stayed at the famous No. 18 villa of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where a night's stay costs about $50,000, according to Channel A.

China released footage and pictures of the Xi, Kim summit a day after the meeting was held.

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