North Korean media reported several of Kim Jong Un’s public appearances over the weekend, in what some observers have said is an attempt to show the world that things are returning to normality after the execution of Jang Song Thaek.
Multiple reports published by state media showed Kim actively visiting different sites across North Korea from December 14, just one day after news of Jang’s execution emerged.
“North Korea’s propaganda department wants to present a strong image of Kim Jong Un: they want to show that Kim is still the leader and indicate that even if Jang passed away, the system is stable,” said Dr. Nicolas Levi, a scholar who runs a site dedicated to analysing North Korea.
“Therefore, Kim Jong Un is being presented often by the media,” Levi concluded.
Among the sites Kim was said to have visited over the weekend included the regularly publicizes Masik Pass ski resort construction zone and the Designing Institute of the Korean People’s Army.
Kim also attended the funeral of Kim Kuk Thae, an octogenarian member of the Workers’ Party that reportedly died on Friday of natural causes.
Since Jang’s execution Kim was reported at at least five events according to articles published by KCNA.
As a semblance of normality returned to North Korean media’s coverage of the leaders movements, an unnamed businessman told Japanese broadcaster NHK on Sunday that North Korea had reassured him the purge of Jang would not impact projects at special economic zones.
The foreign businessman – who was in Pyongyang until Saturday – told an NHK reporter that a top North Korean official in charge of introducing foreign capital said the situation would not affect projects at special economic zones.
The official added that Pyongyang would continue searching for more foreign investment, NHK said.
In contrast to signs of economic continuity, reports on Saturday suggested that North Korea had recalled overseas business people from China. By recalling foreign business people, South Korean media speculated that the leadership may have been purging associates of Jang.
Since Jang’s execution, South Korea has been closely watching North Korea amid concerns that Pyongyang might escalate tensions in order to divert attention from internal problems.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye on December 16 ordered full preparedness against potential North Korean hostilities, saying that Pyongyang might attempt “reckless provocations” after the execution of its leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on the same day.
Picture: Rodong Sinmun