Two me­dia re­ports see Kim Jong-un in pub­lic

JoongAng Daily - - Metro - BY SER MYO-JA my­oja@joongang.co.kr

North Korea is­sued two me­dia re­ports yes­ter­day doc­u­ment­ing Kim Jongun’s pub­lic ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing the young leader’s ap­pear­ance at a mil­i­tary train­ing ses­sion, in an ap­par­ent at­tempt to demon­strate that his grip on power re­mains un­com­pro­mised.

The North’s Korean Cen­tral News Agency re­ported yes­ter­day that Kim of­fered up “field guid­ance” dur­ing take-off and land­ing ex­er­cises for com­bat pi­lots from the Korean Peo­ple’s Army Air Force Unit 1017 and Anti-Air Force Unit.

The state-run news agency, how­ever, did not dis­close the date Kim vis­ited there.

This is Kim’s first mil­i­tary-re­lated en­deavor fol­low­ing a 40-day ab­sence from the pub­lic eye. After he missed one of the coun­try’s most im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal an­niver­saries, ru­mors spread quickly about his health and his abil­ity to con­trol the reclu­sive nu­cle­ar­armed regime.

He re­sumed pub­lic ac­tiv­ity last week, although he was us­ing a cane to support his leg. He toured a hous­ing com­plex for sci­en­tists on Tues­day and an apart­ment com­plex for teach­ers on Fri­day.

Be­fore his re­cent seclu­sion, at­tend­ing mil­i­tary-re­lated events was a rou­tine part of the dic­ta­tor’s sched­ule. His last recorded mil­i­tary-re­lated ap­pear­ance be­fore his seclu­sion was on Aug. 30, at a meet­ing with sol­diers from an air­borne unit.

The unit 1017 is an elite Air Force troop that re­port­edly op­er­ates MiG29 fighter jets — one of the most ad­vanced com­bat air­craft among the North’s ag­ing fleet. Kim pre­vi­ously vis­ited the unit in Jan­uary and Au­gust 2013.

This was the first time the North Korean me­dia re­ported on the 458 unit.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, top mil­i­tary and party of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Vice Mar­shal Hwang Py­ong-so, the di­rec­tor of the Gen­eral Po­lit­i­cal Bureau, and Work­ers’ Party Sec­re­tary Choe Ry­ong-hae, ac­com­pa­nied Kim.

In a sep­a­rate dis­patch, the Korean Cen­tral News Agency also re­ported that Kim met with North Korean ath­letes who par­tic­i­pated in the re­cently con­cluded In­cheon Asian Games to praise their per­for­mance there and at the World Cham­pi­onships. Ri Sol-ju, the North’s first lady, ac­com­pa­nied her hus­band.

She also shied away from the me­dia spot­light dur­ing Kim’s seclu­sion.

Later in the day, the Rodong Shin­mun, the mouthpiece of the rul­ing Work­ers’ Party, re­leased pho­tos of Kim at both pub­lic ac­tiv­i­ties. Kim was pho­tographed still us­ing a cane, though when he posed for pho­tos with the ath­letes, he stood with­out it.

The state’s Korean Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion (KCTV) also re­ported about Kim’s ap­pear­ances but did not air video footage. In­stead, the TV net­work ran still photographs of the broadly-smil­ing North Korean leader.

[JoongAng Photo]

Kim Jong-un poses for a photo with North Korean ath­letes who par­tic­i­pated in the re­cently con­cluded In­cheon Asian Games in a photo pub­lished yes­ter­day in North Korea’s Rodong Shin­mun.

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