We perish because we know not… #TLENews
Kim Jong-un has said he “cannot sleep” for worry over his subjects’ poverty, in a rare admission that North Korea may not be the workers’ paradise that its propaganda claims.
According to the official KCNA news agency, the North Korean leadersaid his citizens have “never enjoyed an abundant life” and demanded that standards of living be raised.
The remarks were part of a paper authored by the young dictator focused on improving North Korea’s stock-breeding, farming and fisheries sectors.
Invoking the power of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Mr Kim said the Sepho uplands should be turned into the nation’s farming heartland and that the project should be granted preferential access to materials, fuel, equipment and manpower.
The need for drastic improvements in North Korea’s agriculture sector is underlined by the most recent study by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation, which found that 84 percent of households have “borderline or poor food consumption”.
While child malnutrition rates have declined in recent years, “rates of stunting caused by malnutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life remain high”, the report said.
The Sepho uplands project comes after years of spending on Mr Kim’s pet projects, including development of theMasik Pass Skiing Ground.
Less than a year after he inherited the North Korean leadership with the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, Mr Kim ordered his military to construct a “world-class” ski resort to rival the winter sports facilities being built in South Korea to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
No expense was spared on the project, with the resort having 68 miles of ski runs, a hotel, cable cars and a heliport, KCNA reported.
Mr Kim picked up a taste for skiing while he was a student at a private school in Switzerland. Few ordinary North Korean citizens are able to access the slopes, however.
The United Nations Commission of Inquiry into Pyongyang’s human rights record reported in February 2014 that spending on luxury goods by the regime climbed to $645.8 million (£425 million) in 2012.
Records also show that Kim Jong-il had treated himself to luxuries adding up to an average of $300 million a year.
The imports included dozens of Mercedes-Benz vehicles and musical instruments, including a selection of top-quality pianos. Pedigree pets, perfume, high-end bottles of liquor and – curiously – maternity products have also been on Mr Kim’s shopping list.
Those claims are backed by comments by Dennis Rodman, the former US basketball player, who visited Pyongyang in October 2013 and described the lifestyle of Mr Kim as a “seven-star” party with free-flowing cocktails, jet-skis at his private island and luxury yachts.
South Korean intelligence estimates that Mr Kim inherited $4 billion held in secret accounts in European banks when his father died.