Kim Jong-un Pays 'Surprise' Visit to Air Force Unit

  • By Kim Myong-song, Yang Seung-sik

    April 18, 2019 13:02

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Tuesday made a surprise visit to the an Air Force unit in Sunchon, South Pyongan Province, where he watched flight training, state media reported Wednesday.

    The visit, his first to a military unit in five months, came after he snubbed U.S. demands for denuclearization and pledged to sit out international sanctions.

    Kim claimed he "spontaneously dropped by" the Air Force unit to watch their flight training as he was passing nearby. But a South Korean military spokesman said the visit was clearly "staged."

    "Footage and photos show that all MiG-29 jets were unarmed," the spokesman said. "Any fighter jets on standby are supposed to be fully armed, but none were, which suggests that only well-maintained fighter jets were chosen for the show."

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (2nd from left) poses with pilots at an Air Force unit in Sunchon, South Pyongan Province on Tuesday, in this photo from the North's official Rodong Sinmun daily.

    Meanwhile, the regime has been forcing people across the country to pay floral tributes to Kim to celebrate his reelection last week as chairman of the State Affairs Commission, the country's highest decision-making body, by the rubberstamp Supreme People's Assembly.

    The tributes, a fixture of his father's and grandfather's reigns, add fuel to speculation that Kim has cemented his hold on power.

    North Koreans had to buy flowers and lay them at the two former leaders' statues or other structures throughout the country, according to Radio Free Asia on Tuesday.

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