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Kim Jong Un praises North Korea's new sporting goods factory

Athletic equipment is a source of pride for the North Korean leader.

By Elizabeth Shim
Kim Jong Un praises North Korea's new sporting goods factory
Kim Jong recently visited a new plant, the Pyongyang Sporting Goods Factory, KCNA reported Thursday. Photo by Rodong Sinmun

SEOUL, June 2 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un visited a North Korean sporting goods factory, his eighth trip to a non-military site since the Seventh Party Congress.

Though Kim made little mention of economic policy during the congress, the North Korean leader said sporting goods were a "very important business," according to state-controlled news agency KCNA.

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"A sports-oriented ethos is rising [in North Korea] and athletic fervor has reached an unprecedented high," Kim reportedly said. "Our athletes are making remarkable progress in games, and the guaranteed production of world-class athletic equipment is a very important business."

Kim may have been referring to a recent basketball game in which North Korea beat China 82-73, according to Pyongyang. But the score may have been the result of biased refereeing, members of the Chinese national team said.

The plant, Pyongyang Sporting Goods Factory, was built and renamed in January, according to KCNA.

Military personnel were deployed on the site as construction workers and built the factory during a "mass battle," or national mobilization movement, Pyongyang said in its statement.

"We have entered full-scale production," North Korea stated.

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Kim also said developing sports is an important aspect of nation building and instructed workers on site to produce goods with patriotism.

The North Korean leader added a "strict quality control system" would guarantee good products that are also "world class."

"Our warehouse is already overflowing with soccer balls, volleyballs and basketballs," Kim said. "Another source of pride has materialized."

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