How Kim performs miracles with every factory visit

Thursday 6th August, 2015

Kim Jong Un on a factory visit./Image via Nodong Shinmun

Kim Jong Un is not one to shy away from appearances in state media, making multiple visits to factories, schools, military bases and even the personal homes of North Korean residents. Prior to the inspections, how do North Korean citizens prepare, especially when there is nothing to inspect?

Kim Jong Un’s frequent inspections are used to portray an image of his affection towards the people, and his responsibility for all fields of work in North Korea. A large proportion of articles in the Rodong Sinmun outline the importance of field instruction by the leader.

The content and structure of such articles in the Rodong Sinmun are formulaic. The articles usually end with great satisfaction expressed on the part of Kim, lavishing and praising workers with compliments and medals for their good work. Kim Jong Un can never fail to be pleased by the work that happens in the factories that he inspects, because whenever he is scheduled to arrive, the factories actually are running.

Machinery, completely stationary due to shortages in resources and electricity, suddenly come to life when Kim makes a visit. Even obsolete or broken-down factories are temporarily revived, only for the duration of an on site inspection by Kim. North Korean refugees often joke that the only person in North Korea who doesn’t still know this fact is Kim Jong Un himself.

Escapee Lim Ju-Hyun from Pyongyang says, “I used to work at a flour factory. One day, we received notice that Kim Jong Il would soon be making a visit. We made a deal with the electricity provision authorities and purchased large amounts of flour and other ingredients to be able to keep the factory running properly for about an hour or two.

“In the end, Kim Jong Il never came, and we depleted the resources we had prepared for the occasion. This happened about three or four times, until we came to a point where we could no longer repeat the preparation process due to lack of resources and money. Furthermore, the electricity provision authorities told us they would no longer assist us. When we were notified once again that Kim Jong Il would soon pay a visit to the factory, we did everything in our power to gather necessary resources.

“After we explained our situation, authorities agreed to provide us with electricity. Simply uttering the words ‘Kim Jong Il’ worked miracles, even producing electricity that isn’t otherwise available.”

In a similar vein, North Korea’s steel industry continues to use inefficient methods of manufacture, prioritizing Kim orders above productiveness. According to a North Korean exile who is an expert in this field, “Juche steel production uses an oxygen process and hard coal, rather than coke. This requires much more electricity than when using coke for manufacture. In a country where electricity is so lacking, we were commanded to use an extremely inefficient method.”

Pyongyang has a relative abundance of electricity, perhaps simply because Kim Jong Un lives there.

Reporting by Park, Ju-Hee.

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