North Korea suffers from poverty and serious economic problems, and the country is subject to sanctions internationally. For ruler Kim Jong Un, however, the future course is clear: He wants to further expand the country’s military potential. Kim announced this on the second day of the congress of the ruling Labor Party.
Kim highlighted the “important will” to “raise the defense capabilities of the state to a much higher level,” reported the state-controlled media. This should ensure the security of “the country and the people as well as a peaceful environment for socialist construction.”
Meanwhile, new portraits of the dictator, which were also shown on state television as part of reporting on the party congress, provide insight into Kim’s self-image. A photo reported on by the news portal “NK News” shows Kim in a bright white military uniform in front of a bookshelf. An assault rifle and binoculars lie on the table in front of him. A marshal’s insignia can be seen on a chain and on his epaulets. According to “NK News”, however, it is unclear whether Kim’s military rank has changed in the meantime.
The presentation is unusual. According to the AFP news agency, Kim often wears civilian clothes during his public appearances, and sometimes he can also be seen in simple suits.
The portrait hangs in a hallway in the House of Culture in the capital Pyongyang. It is the first official picture of Kim in uniform since he took power after his father’s death in 2011.
In the corridor there are other pictures of the ruler, including on a horse. In the television report, party congress delegates were seen looking at the portraits.
For the first time, a modern bust of Kim was shown on the state broadcaster KCTV, which China’s head of state Xi Jinping is said to have given him.
Kim opened the North Korean Labor Party conference on Tuesday and admitted mistakes. For example, Kim said that the goals of the five-year development plan drawn up in 2016 had been missed “in almost all areas.” At the same time he promised that the party would find a new way to make a “great leap forward.”
The ruling party’s congress is a key political event that is closely followed by observers, as the assembly often reveals political changes and important personnel changes.