Kim Jong Un public appearances down in 2016

The North Korean leader avoided areas where he is not well liked, South Korean government data shows.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  Jan. 10, 2017 at 11:49 AM
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SEOUL, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un cut back field guidance activities in 2016 and avoided being seen in public immediately after major provocations, according to Seoul data.

In its annual report on the North Korean leader's public appearances, South Korea's unification ministry revealed Kim engaged in a total of 132 public activities, with most of the activities involving the military or North Korea's industrial sector, News 1 reported Tuesday.

According to the data, about 37 percent of Kim's field guidance were connected to the state-planned economy. Nearly 36 percent involved visits with North Korean military units.

About 20 percent of Kim's events were of a political nature, and less than 5 percent of his time in the public eye was devoted to "society," the ministry's report stated.

Kim's public events often centered on the military in the first quarter of 2016, when Pyongyang tested its fourth nuclear device and launched a satellite into space in February.

After the United Nations Security Council adopted a sanctions resolution in March, Kim turned his attention to the "people's economy" and engaged in more field guidance at civilian sites, according to Seoul.

Kim also cut back on public activities in September and October when the United States and South Korea conducted joint exercises after Pyongyang's fifth nuclear test, a sign the North Korean leader may have been concerned for his personal safety as the United States stepped up deployment of strategic assets.

The North Korean leader also appears to be avoiding areas where he is unpopular. In 2016, 61 percent of Kim's visits took place in the city of Pyongyang, followed by visits to Kangwon Province at 13 percent.

Kim rarely took trips to North Hamgyong Province for civilian purposes, not even when the area was badly damaged due to heavy floods that left at least tens of thousands of North Koreans without shelter.

North Hamgyong is also close to the China border. Sources have said Kim is not well liked in the region.

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