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Unprecedented security surrounds summit

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Kim Jong-un shake hands with Singapore Prime minister Lee Hsien Loong. reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) – Denuclearisation of North Korea is the headline topic at tomorrow’s summit between Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump, but for North Korean officials travelling to Singapore, their top priority is much narrower: protecting their leader.

Security for Kim Jong Un at his first meeting with Trump is expected to be ultra-tight, with measures likely surpassing those seen at the April 27 inter-Korean summit, experts and analysts say.

In April, 12 lanky male bodyguards made international headlines after they surrounded Kim Jong Un’s Mercedes-Benz and jogged alongside it whenever the North Korean leader moved across the border.

That display may have been more a show for live television. Now North Korean officials will almost certainly emphasise preventing any sudden mishaps in Kim Jong Un’s first visit to a foreign country other than China or South Korea since taking power, said Kim Doo-hyun, professor of protection politics at Korea National Sport University.

“He added in addition to using bulletproof vehicles, North Korea’s security detail would likely deploy layers of protection surrounding the summit venue and try to divert attention from Kim Jong Un’s car whenever he moves.

“Kim Jong Un is revered as a god-like being in his country, while outside the North, he’s been subject to hostility because of the way his regime is run, and that’s enough to always cause safety concerns for his officials,” said Chae Kyou-chir, chief executive of Top Guard, a prominent South Korean security and protection firm.

Kim’s chief of staff was spotted in Beijing last week after wrapping up talks with US officials in Singapore which had included security discussions.

On his flight to Singapore, Kim Chang Son was filmed by Japanese broadcaster TBS looking at documents that read: “To guarantee success of the (US-North Korea) summit, the first and second priorities will be to ensure the safety of Chairman Kim Jong Un”.

“Kim Jong Un might bring good looking female bodyguards to embody a more approachable image,” Ahn said.

This would further reinforce the softer image Kim Jong Un has enjoyed in South Korea after the inter-Korean summit.

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