SEOUL – North Korea’s leader made relatively low public appearance in 2017 since he assumed power in 2011 and about 30 percent less than the year 2016.
Kim Jong-un conducted 94 of the inspections that are often conducted by Juche regime leaders in factories, farms, or military facilities and are widely publicized by the state media.
Last year, he conducted 133 inspections, according to data released by the Korean Unification Ministry Friday and analyzed by the Yonhap news agency.
“This indicates that the regime has been stably controlled and (Kim) has strengthened internal solidarity, reducing the need for public activity,” Lee Eugene, vice spokesperson for Seoul’s Unification Ministry, told a briefing.
Military-related visits accounted for 44 percent of the outings, while inspections related to the economy were put at 27 percent, although no inspections were made during July and August as the leader seemingly shifted his focus to the weapons tests.
During 2017, Pyongyang conducted the sixth, and most powerful, nuclear test, and has launched several intercontinental ballistic missiles, the latest in November, capable of reaching the United States.
The data shows that since 2013, when Kim made 212 public appearances, the number has dropped progressively.
Jo Yong-won, vice director of the ruling party’s central committee, has accompanied the leader on as many as 34 visits, which led to an indication from experts that the leader has dedicated more attention to the single party than to the army this year.
Hwang Pyong-so, who was considered to be number two in the regime, and who used to rank first as an entourage member, has not made any public appearance in the past two months, leading to speculation that he had been purged.