Seeking unity, North Korea’s Kim vows to overcome typhoon damage

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has visited typhoon-stricken areas in the northeast, fired a top official there and promised to send 12,000 workers from Pyongyang for recovery efforts, state media reported yesterday.

It’s the latest in a series of high-profile visits by Kim and his deputies to areas hit by natural disasters in recent weeks. Some experts said Kim likely attempted to project an image of a leader looking after people’s livelihoods as he seeks to bolster internal unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and United States (US)-led sanctions.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that Kim on Saturday visited South Hamgyong province, which was hit by Typhoon Maysak last week. It said Kim was briefed that the typhoon destroyed more than 1,000 houses and inundated public buildings and farmland in the coastal areas of South Hamgyong as well as nearby North Hamgyong province.

KCNA didn’t report any deaths or injuries in the two provinces. But the country’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said on Saturday that “dozens of casualties” were reported in Kangwon province, south of the Hamgyong provinces, and that officials in Kangwon would be “gravely punished” for failing to evacuate residents to safety.

Kim also convened a high-level policy meeting there, where he “underscored the need to make the recovery campaign from damage an important political work and an occasion of consolidating the single-mined unity,” KCNA said.

Kim said authorities must issue “a general mobilisation order” to ensure the swift supply of materials for rehabilitation works and urged members of the ruling Workers’ Party in Pyongyang, the capital, to take the lead.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a damaged area in the South Hamgyong province, North Korea, following typhoon Maysak. PHOTO: AP