North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Mangyongdae Funfair in Pyongyang on Wednesday.
This just in: North Korea is not a paradise in some ways — and this news comes from Pyongyang’s official mouthpiece, the Korean Central News Agency.
On Wednesday, KCNA reported that newly anointed leader Kim Jong Un had visited an amusement park where he scolded park officials for poor upkeep of the park, according to the Yonhap News Agency in South Korea.
The criticism from the young leader was the first publicly reported rebuke since he inherited leadership of the country in December, and a rare occurrence in the history of the normally laudatory "inspection tours" taken by his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather Kim Il Sung, who ruled before him.
Kim’s criticism of the Mangyongdae Funfair in Pyongyang was strong and detailed, going so far as to describe the state of the grounds by the Viking ride as “pathetic,” Yonhap said.
He found problems with the roller coaster, the paint on the rides and the safety of the waterpark, the report said, and instructed officials to draw a lesson from touring the site and take it as a warning of the need for a "proper spirit of serving the people."
Analysts cited by Yonhap viewed this report as a means of the burnishing the image of Kim, thought to be about 28, as a competent and detail-oriented leader interested in citizens' welfare.
"The aim is to instill an awareness among ranking officials across North Korea that Kim Jong-un is a benevolent leader but also strict when it comes to principles," Jang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University told Yonhap.
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Kim’s apparent efforts to consolidate his position as leader of the country’s Communist Party, government and military has not been entirely smooth.
In April, North Korea attempted a rocket launch — seen as a way of bolstering the regime’s legitimacy — despite protest from the international community. North Korea said the rocket was for putting a civilian satellite into orbit, but its critics said it was a missile test.
The rocket exploded.
The launch attempt prompted the United States to suspend 240,000 tons of planned food aid to North Korea, which is believed to be suffering a severe shortage.
Some North Korea experts are predicting that Pyongyang is planning an underground nuclear test, which likely would further isolate the regime.
Fighting between North Korea and U.S.-backed South Korea ended in armistice in 1953, but the two nations are technically still at war.
Kim Il Sung, the grandfather of the current leader, was a Communist fighter who emerged as the first leader of the north after World War II.
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