North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) visits the northwestern city of Samjiyon, near the border with China, where a major development project is underway, in this photo released on Tuesday. (North's official Korean Central News Agency)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has visited the northwestern city of Samjiyon, near the border with China, where a major development project is underway, Pyongyang's state media reported Tuesday. It marks his first public activity in more than a month.
Located at the foot of Mount Paekdu, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, Samjiyon is known to be the birthplace of Kim's late father and former leader Kim Jong-il. Developing the city has been one of Kim's pet projects since taking office in late 2011.
"Kim ... gave on-the-spot guidance to Samjiyon City to learn about the real state of the third-stage project, with the conclusion of Samjiyon City construction now in hand," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, adding the development will be wrapped up this year.
The North originally planned to complete the Samjiyon development in three stages by 2020 in time for the 75th anniversary of the ruling party's foundation but failed to meet the deadline amid crippling sanctions and a prolonged border closure due to COVID-19.
Kim praised officials for their "lofty loyalty, strong will and sweat" to push forward with the project and said the four-year construction proved "the iron will of our state to achieve prosperity our own way and with our own efforts."
The mass-scale project includes "the construction of dwelling houses for thousands of families, public and production buildings, educational facilities, a water supply and drainage system, roads, an afforestation and greening and power grid system," according to the KCNA.
North Korea elevated the status of Samjiyon from a county to a city after celebrating the completion of a major construction there in 2019 and has called for transforming the area into the "wealthiest" region in the country.
Kim said the city could serve as a guideline "for making a new start for the change of local areas" and called for boosting the country's construction capabilities.
The North Korean leader also urged officials to make "substantial farming preparations for next year" to ensure a "stable increase in potato production without fluctuation despite the unfavorable conditions in the northern alpine areas" and ordered research to protect forests to cope with harmful insects and climate change.
The latest visit marked Kim's first public appearance reported in state media in more than a month, after he delivered a speech at a defense exhibition on Oct. 11. (Yonhap)