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Kim Jong-un makes 25 public appearances in Q1, down 26.5 pct from last year

2017/03/31 15:06

SEOUL, March 31 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a total of 25 public appearances in the first three months of this year, which were mainly focused on economic and military subjects, data showed Friday.

According to Yonhap News Agency's analysis of North Korean media reports, Kim's public outings in the first quarter were reduced by 26.5 percent from 34 reported in the same period of last year.

Frequency and subject of a North Korean leader's public appearances are often used to analyze the inner workings of the reclusive regime.

Economic affairs and events accounted for nine of the total public activities this year with visits to military and defense-related scenes represented eight. The remaining eight were related to political or other peripheral issues.

The data analysis shows Kim was present for three of North Korea's tests of ballistic missiles and high-thrust rocket engines including the launch of the new intermediate ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 on Feb. 12.

Kim also made two reported trips to the Ryomyong Street, a new high-rise town in Pyongyang which is under construction.

Hwang Pyong-so, director of the general political bureau of the Korean People's Army (KPA) who is widely deemed as the No. 2, was mostly frequently seen accompanying the leader to the public appearances in the first quarter as well as Jo Yong-won, vice department director of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK).

They both accompanied him on 10 occasions.

Then came Ma Won-chun, director of the Designing Department of the State Affairs Commission, who appeared in six of Kim's 25 public outings.

Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of the central committee of the WPK who was once thought to be competing with Hwang for the second most powerful position in the regime, only accompanied the leader on four occasions.

Kim's fashion-conscious wife Ri Sol-ju appeared in only two outings while Kim's only younger sister Yo-jong did not join any of them.

pbr@yna.co.kr

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