According to the Bangkok Post, Japanese money is worth more than North Korean solidarity to Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen:
“Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen appealed to his North Korean counterpart Kim Yong Il to release remaining Japanese citizens abducted by that country nearly 30 years ago, a government spokesman said Thursday.
Spokesman Khieu Kanharith made the announcement while briefing journalists after the first day of talks between Kim, the Cambodian government and a 30-strong North Korean delegation, which includes the North Korean ministers of foreign trade, agriculture and culture.
“Cambodia is not the North Korean government,,” Kanharith quoted Hun Sen as saying, “so we can only suggest. However we are also a friend of Japan, and when you release the hostages, I think relations between North Korea and Japan will improve rapidly.”
This is actually quite a diplomatic coup by Japan, considering the historical association between Cambodia and North Korea.
Cambodia and North Korea continue to maintain close diplomatic relations that began during the Cold War. Former King Sihanouk makes frequent trips to North Korea and has been a long time supporter of North Korea. Cambodia is home to a large proportion of North Korea’s expatriate community (the ones that are not imprisoned on return) and is a preferred holiday destination for the elite. Such is the relationship that the North Korean Government gave Sihanouk a personal gift of a bodyguard unit composed of highly trained North Korean personnel.
From reports, the level of trade remains important too with North Korea’s Prime Minister Kim Yong-Il signing agreements on shipping and trade and later scheduled to meet Senate and National Assembly leaders. Former King Sihanouk will also host a gala banquet for the North Korean delegation on Friday night at the Royal Palace.