Kim Jong Un's Air China ride to Singapore is Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's private jet: Apple Daily

PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL - The Air China Boeing 747 that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un took to Singapore on Sunday (June 10) is the private jet of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Hong Kong's Apple Daily reported Monday (June 11).

Kim's usual mode of transport is his own aircraft, the Chammae-1, but he appears to have sought help from China due to safety concerns regarding the condition of his jet.

Chammae-1 is a reconstructed Ilyushin Il-62, a Soviet long-range jet airliner. It was discontinued in 1995.

Although the long-range jet can fly up to 10,000 kilometres, easily covering the 4,600-kilometre distance between Pyongyang and Singapore, the age of the jet could have deterred the North Korean leader from using it for his first overseas trip to a place other than China since taking power.

Apple Daily said Kim could have negotiated the loan with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Dalian, China, in May.

Four Boeing planes are used by the Chinese political leadership: B-2443, B-2445, B-2447, B-2472.

Xi's plane is the B-2472, while Premier Li's is the B-2447, the one Kim rode.

The B-2447 is a 23-year-old aircraft that serves as a normal passenger carrier when not in use by Li.

Whenever it is employed as a private jet, the interior of the plane is reupholstered into a private aircraft, complete with an office, reception area and bedroom.

Unlike the US' Air Force One, the B-2447 is not equipped with a defence system against artilleries.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrives in Singapore for summit

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for the first time on Sunday.
  • The two leaders exchanged broad smiles and warm thank-yous when they met at the Istana.
  • Kim thanked Singapore for hosting the historic summit between him and US President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
  • North Korea's capacity for distraction and sleight of hand was on show Sunday as leader Kim Jong Un flew to Singapore for his summit with US President Donald Trump.
  • No fewer than three aircraft made their way to Singapore from Pyongyang airport, a facility that frequently sees fewer than three international flights a day. Instead, he flew on an Air China Boeing 747.
  • In Singapore, its high-profile passenger was met by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who tweeted a picture of himself shaking hands with Kim, who wore a dark lapel-less suit.
  • Kim was driven into the city-state in a convoy of more than 20 vehicles, including an ambulance, with North Korean television cameramen filming his progress through the sunroofs.
  • Reporters and photographers packed the pavements outside the St Regis hotel where Kim was to stay. Covers had been hung over the driveway and hotel security brought out additional potted plants to obstruct the view of the lobby.
  • Located just off Singapore's diplomatic district and a stone's throw away from the Orchard Road shopping belt, the modernist St Regis is tucked between an ageing building dotted with carpet shops and a sleepy high-end neighbourhood mall.
  • On the 20th floor, the ostentatiously opulent 335-square metre Presidential Suite, where Kim was believed likely to stay, features a Marc Chagall artwork and a white baby grand piano.
  • Its rooms are "lined with gold, and accented with precious metals like brass, onyx and silver", the hotel says on its website.
  • It does not give prices but the list price of a similar facility in New York is $35,000 a night.
  • Who will pick up the bill for the North Koreans' stay has been the subject of much speculation
  • Pyongyang has a history of trying to have others pay for its travel -- Seoul paid for its delegates to this year's Winter Olympics in the South.
  • But a Seoul presidential spokesman said it was "not considering it at all at the moment", while the US has insisted it will not foot the bill -- and is not asking anyone else to do so.
  • Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Sunday his government was spending around S$20 million to host the summit, around half of it on security.
  • "It's a cost that we are willing to pay. It's our contribution to an international endeavour which is in our profound interests," he said.
  • A North Korean cameraman is chased by media outside St Regis hotel, in Singapore

According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, analysts say it is very uncommon for the North's media to reveal the charter of a foreign airplane in its leader's overseas trip, particularly because the North Korean government has long promoted the Juche (self-reliance) ideology and slogans in all state affairs.

They speculate that the frank disclosure may have been made due to Kim's tendency of putting practical interests above loss of face and self-esteem.

There is also an analysis that Pyongyang has intentionally revealed the charter of a Chinese airplane to display a close bilateral relationship in the face of international sanctions led by the US.

US President Donald Trump and Kim arrived in Singapore on Sunday, ahead of their summit scheduled for Tuesday. Kim arrived at 2.36pm local time, while Trump arrived via Air Force One at 8.22pm.