Kim Jong-un Unbuttons to Oversee Flood Recovery

  • By Kim Eun-joong

    September 14, 2020 13:42

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stripped to his undershirt in a show of hands-on assistance to flood-hit parts of the North.

    The official [North] Korean Central News Agency showed the portly leader wearing only a t-shirt and voluminous dress pants as he revisited flood-hit regions in North Hwanghae Province.

    The pictures suggest not so much a man used to heavy lifting as to heavy eating but may be intended to bolster his image as an approachable, hands-on leader.

    During an earlier visit last month Kim ordered officials to tap into the state's rice reserves to feed locals and sent soldiers to handle recovery efforts.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) looks at rice grains in a flood-hit region in North Hwanghae Province, in this photo from the North's official Rodong Sinmun daily on Sept. 12.

    Last month, he set Oct. 10, the 75th anniversary of the Workers Party, as the deadline by which all flood damage must be cleared up. State media later claimed that some 300,000 elite party members had signed up to help.

    Kim looks in fine fettle in the latest pictures, wading through rice paddies, smoking and joking with soldiers, which gives the lie to recent reports that he is seriously ill.

    Meanwhile Hyon Song-wol, a rumored former girlfriend of the leader's who leads a state musical troupe, has also dressed down. Earlier she attracted criticism for her decadent makeup and designer handbags, but as a member of Kim's delegation during the visit she wore plain black pants like him.

    The photo op was apparently aimed at appeasing restive North Koreans amid the triple whammy of international sanctions, the coronavirus epidemic and recent floods.

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