N. Koreans ordered to protect Kim dynasty portraits from storm

Pedestrians walk past the portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang/AFP.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA — North Koreans must prioritise safeguarding propaganda portraits of their leaders, the country’s official newspaper said, as a tropical storm made landfall on the Korean peninsula on Thursday.

Tropical Storm Khanun, which battered Japan before taking a circuitous route towards the Korean peninsula, is set to move into North Korea early Friday after spreading heavy rains across the South.

Natural disasters tend to have a greater impact on the isolated and impoverished North due to its weak infrastructure, while deforestation has left it vulnerable to flooding.

But Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun said North Koreans’ “foremost focus” should be “ensuring the safety of” propaganda portraits of its leaders, as well as the country’s statues, mosaics, murals and other monuments to the Kims.

Pyongyang is extremely sensitive and protective when it comes to the image of the ruling Kim dynasty.

Portraits of current leader Kim Jong Un’s father and grandfather are ubiquitous, adorning every home and office in the country.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency said on Thursday that “all the sectors and units” in the country were “conducting a dynamic campaign to cope with disastrous abnormal climate”.

“Strong wind, downpour, tidal wave and sea warnings were issued,” it added.

Efforts were also being made by officials in the agriculture sector to proactively safeguard crops against the typhoon, according to KCNA.

The North has periodically been hit by famine, with hundreds of thousands of people dying — estimates range into millions — in the mid-1990s.

The country held a high-level party meeting in February to specifically address food shortages and agricultural problems.

Officials, meanwhile, were advised to ensure the country’s economic output was not affected by “any natural disasters”, including typhoons, according to Thursday’s Rodong Sinmun.

— AFP

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