Kim wins big from talks with Putin

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks at a space center in Russia's Far East on Wednesday.

Former NHK Seoul bureau chief Ikehata Shuhei says Kim is likely to be delighted with the outcome.

First, there are the optics. This didn't happen on the sidelines of another gathering. It was an event arranged just for him.

Putin welcomed Kim at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in Amur on Wednesday.

And Putin often shows up late for meetings with foreign leaders, but that is not what happened this time. He was at the Cosmodrome waiting for Kim to arrive. Kim presented himself as a young, confident leader who can work with Putin, which was just the image he needed to send back home to a country struggling with dire economic conditions.

NHK former Seoul bureau chief Ikehata Shuhei

Before the meeting, Russia's defense minister raised the idea of joint military drills with North Korea.

For the leader of a regime as isolated as North Korea's, that's a symbolic win, and one that may encourage Kim to maintain or even accelerate his hostile stance toward the US, Japan, and South Korea. The message to the rest of the world is: China isn't our only ally.

The leaders of Japan, the US and South Korea held summit talks at the Camp David presidential retreat near Washington on August 18.

The participants have not revealed what the leaders discussed, but the speculation before the meeting was that Russia wanted North Korea to export arms, including ammunition that would help with their invasion of Ukraine. For North Korea, a weapons deal would bring much-needed revenue.

North Korea tried to launch a military reconnaissance satellite from the Sohae satellite launching station in Tongchang-ri in the country's northwest on August 24.

Moscow also has technical expertise that Pyongyang could use right now. North Korea says it will try to launch a spy satellite next month. That announcement came just hours after it failed for a second time to launch one. The speed of that announcement may suggest Kim already knew he would meet Putin at the space base and was confident about getting technical assistance to improve his rockets.

Kim and Putin at the Vostochny Cosmodrome space center in Amur on Wednesday

And that is a serious concern for some countries. No matter how much North Korea insists its launches are for peaceful purposes, the rocket technology is the same type being used for missiles.