World

Kim Jong Un praises army for typhoon recovery ‘miracles’

SEOUL, Sept. 14 (UPI) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un toured a typhoon-damaged rural village that was transformed by the army into a “socialist fairyland,” state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on Tuesday.

Kim visited Kangbuk-ri village, located in the southwest of the country, and hailed the rapid work of the military in repairing damage from strong winds and heavy rains that ravaged the town.

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“The People’s Army is made up of creators of all miracles on this land,” Kim said, according to KCNA. “[T]he genuine might of the People’s Army lies not in the number of troops and the might of ammunitions but in their ardent love for their country and people.”

North Korea has been hit hard by a trio of typhoons in recent weeks, causing extensive damage to roads, railways and buildings and raising concerns over food shortages. State media reported that miles of crops had been submerged in heavy rains last month.

A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month found that 60% of North Koreans are food insecure, with the impact of COVID-19 on the country’s economy exacerbating an already serious situation.

KCNA reported that Kangbuk-ri village “removed all the traces of great natural disaster and was successfully built as a socialist fairyland, model village of socialist rural communities thanks to the wise guidance of Kim Jong Un.”

The North Korean leader visited another typhoon-damaged village last Friday, where he offered “field guidance” to the reconstruction efforts, continuing a recent stretch of public appearances after a lengthy disappearance in the spring had led to widespread speculation about his health.

At a military meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea last week, Kim said the devastating typhoons would “change the direction of our struggle.”

Kim warned of a coming “new strategic weapon” at the end of 2019, but it is unclear how much the toll from the COVID-19 pandemic and the typhoons have altered the country’s plans.

North Korea conducted weapons tests of missiles and a rocket launcher in March and April of this year, and a satellite analysis by think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies released earlier this month suggested that Pyongyang is preparing to test a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

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