Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un talks to officials as he visits a damaged area in the South Hamgyong province, North Korea, following a typhoon known as Maysak. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: “KCNA” which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un surveyed damage from Typhoon Maysak and blamed local officials for casualty and damage, firing one of them.
Kim vowed a swift recovery and sent an open letter to party members in the capital of Pyongyang promising that he would send 12,000 key party members to the provinces to speed up the recovery, Reuters reported Saturday.
The typhoon decimated more than 1,000 houses along the east coast in both South Hamgyong and North Hamgyong provinces, Reuters reported. Farmland and public facilities were also flooded, the Korea Herald reported.
Kim dismissed Kim Song Il, chairman of the South Hamgyong Provincial Committee of the Workers’ Party, according to the Associated Press, citing the Korean Central News Agency.
South of those provinces, in Kangwon province, the country’s main newspaper, Rodong Sinmum, reported “dozens of casualties,” BBC News said Saturday. The ruling party had vowed to punish Kangwon officials for allegedly failing to follow evacuation orders and keep their people safe, BBC News reported.
North Korea is having one of its wettest rainy seasons ever, drenched in torrential rains, floods and an inordinate number of typhoons, Reuters said.
“We can’t let our people here go on without homes when our national holiday is nearing,” Kim said at the meeting before visiting South Hamgyong Province, according to the Korea Herald. The regime celebrates the anniversary of its ruling party Oct. 10.
Analysts said Kim’s visits appear to be designed to unify the country as it’s battered by U.S.-impose economic sanctions and severe weather that is affecting the food supply.
“Kim Jong-un’s more frequent visits to the provinces are intended to show a ‘leader of the people’ response to natural disasters,” Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, South Korea, told AP. “But this is also blunt recognition that the elite in Pyongyang are not self-reliant. Kim’s increased attention to farmers reflects a worrying food supply situation in the country. “