North Korea’s Kim visits typhoon-hit area, warns of ‘defeatism’

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited a typhoon-ravaged rural town and lambasted government agencies for “defeatism”, state media reported yesterday.

In his first public activity after massive weekend celebrations marking the ruling party’s founding anniversary, Kim inspected recovery works at the northeastern Komdok area, continuing recent visits to regions hit by typhoons and flooding this summer. Outside observers said Kim aims to boost public support as the disasters could likely aggravate North Korea’s economy under United States-led sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) cited Kim as saying that Komdok’s typhoon-related damage was “more severe than he thought” and praised soldiers mobilised in rehabilitation projects for their devotion.

KCNA said Komdok’s damage was the worst among typhoon-hit areas. It said military units ordered by Kim had completed over 60 per cent of construction of 2,300 dwellings.

In this undated photo provided on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, visits the typhoon-ravaged rural town of Komdok, North Korea, to inspect recovery works. Photo: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

In the past, when natural disasters hit North Korea, KCNA has often dispatched photos of vivid scenes of damage, in an apparent effort to win foreign aid. But Kim said in August he won’t accept any outside assistance this year to maintain stringent border closures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Kim’s government has argued it hasn’t reported a single virus case.

At Komdok, Kim said that there were still houses built more than 50 years ago and that his government “didn’t know properly the life of the people living in so piteous environments and dwellings”.

He criticised national planning institutions that he said had become “very calculating … caught in defeatism and making a great fuss when the target worthy of the political attention of the country is set,” KCNA said.