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North Korea President Kim Jong Un Shows Up After Month-Long Hiatus

[Representational image] LANG SON, VIETNAM - FEBRUARY 26: Kim Jong-un waves from his car after arriving by train at Dong Dang railway station near the border with China on February 26, 2019 in Lang Son, Vietnam. North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Vietnam for the first time on Tuesday as preparations continue in Hanoi for the summit with U.S President Donald Trump in Hanoi later this week. Reports have indicated that both leaders could agree on a joint statement declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War while denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and ending international sanctions against Pyongyang is expected to be discussed during the summit. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his first public appearance in over a month. He visited a newly created alpine city dubbed a “model” communist “utopia” in an attempt to cement his legacy despite dire food shortages.

State media reported Kim’s trip to northern city of Samjiyon on Tuesday to mark his tenth year as leader of a nation disconnected from the rest of the world since the coronavirus epidemic started. With its ski slopes, commercial and medical facilities, and accommodation for tens of thousands of people, the city on China’s border offers a far different image than a nation stricken by extreme poverty.

[Representational image] TOPSHOT – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends a wreath-laying ceremony at a WWII memorial in the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on April 26, 2019. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Kim Jong Un Visits “Model Rural City” Samjiyon

Experts claim that Samjiyon is Pyongyang’s primary economic drive to show that the North is thriving despite international sanctions over its nuclear program.

According to Korean Central News Agency (via Washington Post), Kim said that the city’s buildings represent the “lofty loyalty, tremendous will, and sweat of our people,” as well as North Korea’s own way of achieving prosperity.

Mount Paektu, which is considered North Korea’s birthplace. The Kim dynasty claims lineage, is adjacent to the city. It was meant to be done before the country’s governing Workers’ Party’s 75th anniversary last year, but the epidemic delayed progress.

Kim’s visit coincided with completing the project’s last phase, which is slated to be finished by the end of the year. Jean H. Lee, Wilson Center’s Korean expert, said Kim wants to maintain the idea that he is following a divine command to rule.

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has lately been the subject of health-related concerns. Kim hasn’t been seen in public since giving a speech at a military display last month. Official media reported on Tuesday that he had visited the construction site of a new city near the Chinese border.

Kim’s disappearance has not been officially explained by North Korea. According to Express.co, his disappearances from official media have aroused conjecture about his health and whereabouts in the past.

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North Korea Hops On Hypersonic Missile Race

Kim was said to be in excellent health by South Korea’s intelligence agency last month. In April 2020, Kim withdrew from public eye for many weeks. His absence fueled speculation that he was recovering from heart surgery, had contracted COVID-19, or had died. Regardless, the North Korean leader resurfaced in state-run media, putting an end to rumors that he was unwell.

In September, North Korea announced the launch of a hypersonic missile, putting the Hermit Kingdom on the edge of deploying one of the most sophisticated offensive weapon categories in the world.

The new missile, known as the Hwasong-8, is a top goal under the country’s five-year military development plan, according to state news agency KCNA. North Korean officials used the term “strategic” to describe the new weapon, meaning that it can carry nuclear warheads.

At this moment, the missile’s specifications remain unclear. According to researchers, the lone picture accompanying the testing indicates, but does not verify, that the Hwasong-8 is a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle (HGV) technology. HGVs are one of two kinds of hypersonic missiles available, the other being hypersonic cruise missiles.

HGVs are launched from a traditional rocket booster, then separate and glide to their target. Due to their tremendous speed and unexpected flight path, experts think these missiles are incredibly challenging to intercept.

While the Hwasong-8 made headlines on Wednesday, a KCNA report revealed another “bombshell” that might be just as important. According to National Interest, North Korea’s hypersonic ambitions have been in the works for years.

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