North Korean leader Kim Jong Un emphasized economic policy in a visit to a major machine factory on the east coast, according to state media, where he cast a symbolic vote in a local election held Sunday.
The focus on the “people’s economic development” comes after most of his recent public on-site inspections have been related to the military, and amid daily state media reports on Kim reviewing imagery of U.S. and South Korean military bases taken by a new satellite the DPRK launched last week.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Monday that Kim inspected the Ryongsong Machine Complex in Hamhung and cast his vote in the Nov. 26 elections for provincial, city and county people’s assemblies.
Kim said the factory is “pushing ahead with the production of high-performance large compressors” and that workers have “dealt a heavy blow to defeatism and mysticism about technology” that he believes is holding the “self-reliant” economy back in some places.
The Ryongsong Machine Complex also manages major missile and weapons factories in Hamhung that Kim visited in August: the February 11 Plant and Tonghungsan Machine Factory.
The location Kim inspected on Sunday reportedly produces large equipment for power stations and chemical factories.
State media described the vote as a chance for North Koreans to “fulfill their civic duty in the struggle to firmly consolidate our revolutionary power and make our socialist state centered on the popular masses more prosperous.”
Elections in North Korea are neither free nor fair. Outside experts consider North Korean people’s assembly elections to be demonstrations of continued popular support for government policies orchestrated by the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).
North Korea’s governing system is officially centered around protecting the “monolithic” rule of Kim Jong Un, his family and the WPK, with protections built into the constitution.
Sunday’s election was North Korea’s first in decades to allow more than one candidate per district to participate in a primary-like process, but only one person was ultimately up for election per district. The system of selection remains largely opaque.
The vote was inexplicably delayed by about four months, after previous local elections took place every four years in July or August.
Kim met the three men who were selected for the provincial, city and county posts at the Ryongsong factory and photos show him depositing a candidate ticket into a green box representing a yes vote, with a red box for a no vote visible to the side.
He reportedly approved Ryongsong Machine Complex Songun Cast Iron Factory manager Kim Chung Hyok for the South Hamgyong Provincial People’s Assembly, head of the factory’s Machine Workshop No. 3 Ri Chol Hak for the Hamhung City People’s Assembly, and Haean District Statistics Department vice director Rim Chol for the Haean District People’s Assembly.
State media is expected to release more details about the election results in the coming days. Almost 28,000 individuals were selected as deputies in the last local election in July 2019.
Source: NK News