May 13 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's relations with China and Russia may have hit a stumbling block following his return from Vladivostok, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in April.
High-profile defector Thae Yong-ho, the former North Korean diplomat who fled Pyongyang's embassy in London in 2016, told South Korean newspaper Seoul Shinmun that Kim and Putin agreed to "work together" for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Thae said Kim's multiple tests of missiles in May are a demonstration of his displeasure with the outcome of the summit in Russia. Putin had said at the summit he supports denuclearization efforts and did not show support for North Korea's nuclear weapons development.
China, North Korea's most important partner, is also showing signs of hesitation to engage further with North Korea, the defector said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had said in January he would visit Pyongyang on the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations, which would be commemorated on Oct. 6. Talk of the visit has died down in recent months, according to Thae.
The defector said his findings are based on a week's worth of analysis of various North Korean state media: Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun, propaganda outlets Maeari and DPRK Today.
North Korean statements have become increasingly contradictory and almost self-serving; North Korea has said recent missile tests are not a violation of inter-Korea military agreements while demanding the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the jointly operated factory park in the North.
In a statement published on Monday, Maeari stated the factory park in Kaesong should be reopened. The North accused "South Korean authorities" of being pushed around by "public opinion" and the need to receive U.S. approval.
The United States has no reason to oppose Kaesong's reopening, Pyongyang said.