North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made relatively fewer public appearances in 2017 since he assumed power in 2011 and about 30 per cent less than 2016, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said on Friday. Kim conducted 94 inspections in factories, farms, or military facilities which are widely publicized by the state media, reports Efe news. Last year, he conducted 133 inspections, according to data released by the Unification Ministry. “This indicates that the regime has been stably controlled and (Kim) has strengthened internal solidarity, reducing the need for public activity,” ministry spokesman Lee Eugene told a briefing. Military-related visits accounted for 44 per cent of the outings, while inspections related to the economy were put at 27 per cent, although no inspections were made during July and August as the leader seemingly shifted his focus to the weapons tests.
This year, Pyongyang conducted the sixth, and most powerful, nuclear test and has launched several intercontinental ballistic missiles, the latest in November, capable of reaching the US. The ministry 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.