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Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “strictly rebuked” staff for their work during a recent factory visit in Sinuiju, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Monday.
The weekend saw Kim visit the Sinuiju Textile Mill and Sinuiju Chemical Fibre Mill, state media reported.
During his visit to the Chemical Fibre Mill, Kim Jong Un was reported to have “strictly rebuked officials for failing to take pains to finish the upgrading of the paper manufacturing process as early as possible.”
Officials were reproached by the DPRK leader for not fulfilling their responsibilities, with some of his comments not appearing in the official English-language report.
In a Korean-language version, however, KCNA reported that Kim had “seriously rebuked” them, saying that “no-one was able to provide an exact answer” on the size, prospect, and plans for the ongoing modernization project and accusing them of blaming others for their mistakes.
Kim accused the factory of attempting to test “precious equipment in an old building like a stable which hasn’t been repaired,” reprimanding staff for “placing facilities and production process in spare areas.”
“Kim also called them to account for repairing the building extemporarily and without an aim… at a point where a newly-established production process has been assembled in the final stage and an immediate test-operation is needed,” KCNA said in the Korean-language dispatch.
The DPRK leader also rebuked officials in the DPRK Cabinet and the Ministry of Chemical Industry, as well as the provincial party committee, for “not paying attention, inspecting often, and properly controlling and managing” the factory.
“He learned why the field of the chemical industry could not stand up for several years,” Kim was quoted as having said in the KCNA report. “He said it was very serious and he couldn’t help but worry about the Cabinet’s capability to guide economic projects and the reality of the chemical industry.”
During his inspection of the Sinuiju Textile Mill, Kim also expressed his regret on the factory “failing to fulfill its national economic plan every year.”
“[He] felt heartbroken to see the mill with a long history… not retaining its proud tradition,” KCNA reported in an English-language version, with state media providing more details in the Korean-language dispatch.
The North Korean leader said that the Sinuiju Textile Mill had failed to “guarantee the full operation of equipment and machines” and that staff had not given sufficient attention to science and technology “while blaming others and complaining about materials, fund, and efforts.”
Kim Jong Un said he was disappointed “the work of the factory remained at a standstill.”
Monday saw KCNA report that Kim had scolded them for not keeping up with the country’s push to localize and modernize its light industry.
The DPRK leader also said the factory’s party committee had not paid enough attention to improving the working and living conditions of its employees, calling for the officials and workers to remodel the facilities and achieve the modernization of the production process by next year to mark the 60th anniversary of its foundation.
This is not the first time that Kim has reprimanded staff during an on-site inspection, however: in May 2015 he scolded workers during a visit to a terrapin farm.
In July the following year, he revisited the farm again and expressed his “pleasure that it has been radically changed.”
The North Korean leader made a series of visits in Sinuiju over the weekend, with KCNA on Sunday reporting he had also visited the Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory with First Lady Ri Sol Ju.
Senior officials An Jong Su, Hwang Pyong So, Han Kwang Sang, Kim Song Nam, Jo Yong Won, O Il Jong, and Hwang Yong Chol accompanied the leader during his visit to the port town, which shares a border with China.
Hwang Pyong So – widely reported to have been purged last year and later formally removed from his post as vice-chairman of the State Affairs Commission (SAC) at the Sixth Session of the 13th DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) in April – was, notably, referred to as a “cadre of the Central Committee.”
His trip to the DPRK’s northwest also saw Kim visit a farm in Sindo County, North Phyongan Province, as well as Unit 1524 of the Korean People’s Army (KPA).
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)