NK leader lambastes park officials for poor oversight
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un lashed out at officials of an amusement park for neglecting to take proper care of the facility's grounds and rides, the North's state media said Wednesday in an apparent move to highlight the leader's concern for his people.
North Korean media, including the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said Kim inspected the Mangyongdae Funfair in Pyongyang and scolded officials there after discovering flaws throughout the park.
It is the first time the North Korean media have reported a public censure by the new leader. Reports on similar activities by Kim's father and late leader Kim Jong-il were also rare.
According to the news reports, Kim Jong-un noticed a damaged path in front of a Viking ride and called it "pathetic," while also pointing out flaws in the park's gardens and a roller coaster, the condition of paint on rides and the safety of a water park.
"Seeing the weeds grown in between pavement blocks in the compound of the funfair, he, with an irritated look, plucked them up one by one," the KCNA said in an English-language dispatch monitored in Seoul. "He said in an excited tone that he has never thought that the funfair is under such a bad state and a proverb that the darkest place is under the candlestick fits the funfair."
The KCNA reported Kim's rebukes in detail, using strong expressions of disapproval.
"He scolded officials, saying why such things do not come in their sight and querying could the officials of the funfair work like this, had they had the attitude befitting master, affection for their work sites and conscience to serve the people," it said. "Plucking up weeds can be done easily with hands as it is different from updating facilities, he added."
Kim also instructed officials to draw a lesson from touring the site and take it as a warning of the need for a "proper spirit of serving the people," the KCNA said.
Choe Ryong-hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA), accompanied Kim on the trip and received the task of "sprucing up the funfair as required by the new century by dispatching strong construction forces of the KPA."
Analysts in Seoul viewed the North Korean media's unusual approach as an attempt by the leadership to transform Kim's image. The new leader, believed to be in his late 20s, has thus far been portrayed as a friendly and gentle character with a striking resemblance to his grandfather and founding leader Kim Il-sung. Now, the aim is apparently to depict him as a leader who deals sternly with his aides in order to serve the public, the analysts said.
"It's an attempt by Kim Jong-un to tighten discipline among ranking officials," said Jang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University. "The fact that it was broadcast shows that the aim is to instill an awareness among ranking officials across North Korea that Kim Jong-un is a benevolent leader but also strict when it comes to principles."
Jang also said the report could serve other purposes, such as proving Kim's ability to look after detailed aspects of policy, or blaming government officials for the people's frustrations. (Yonhap)