North Korea’s Kim makes his first public appearance in a month

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited a new city under construction near the Chinese border and a sacred mountain revered by his family, state media reported Tuesday, in his first public appearance in more than a month.

The northern Alpine town of Samjiyon is being transformed into a huge economic center, called by officials a “socialist utopia”, equipped with new apartments, hotels, a ski resort, and commercial, cultural and medical facilities.

The developing city is near Mount Paektu, the sacred mountain where Kim’s family claims their roots, and he has made multiple visits since 2018, and the official KCNA news agency touts it as the “epitome of modern civilization.”

KCNA said Kim’s latest trip was designed to inspect the third and final phase of construction, which will be completed later this year after delays caused by international sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.

KCNA did not give a date for Kim’s visit, but it is the leader’s first public activity report in 35 days, since he delivered a speech at a defense exhibition, his longest absence since 2014.

South Koreans watch a television broadcasting a news report on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Seoul, South Korea, on April 21, 2020 (credit: REUTERS / HEO RAN)

The disappearance of the lonely young leader of the state media often sparks speculation about his health or whereabouts. South Korea’s intelligence agency said late last month that he had no health problems.

“He said that Samjiyon has become an example of a modern mountain city under socialism and a standard of rural development thanks to the unwavering struggle of the workers despite the unfavorable environment in the north,” KCNA said.

Kim said the construction of the new city provided expertise in construction, design and technologies that would fuel economic growth in other regions.

The city is one of the largest initiatives Pyongyang has launched as part of Kim’s push for a “self-sufficient” economy, as the country faces international sanctions for its nuclear and missile programs.

Nearly two years after sealing the borders to prevent COVID-19, North Korea recently resumed rail freight transport with China, the latest sign that they could reopen the border soon.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *