North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Says He Wants to ‘Completely Eliminate Manual Labor’

North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju visit the Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory in Sinuiju, North Korea, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 1, 2018. Kim praised the factory staff for their work and urged them to further automate their processes.
KCNA/REUTERS

North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un has expressed his wish to automate all labor in the country, doing away with manual labor entirely in a bid to modernize the tightly-controlled social state.

Kim made the remarks during a visit Sunday to a cosmetics factory in the northern province of Sinuiju, a lucrative trade hub located near the country’s border with China. The visit is Kim’s first public appearance since visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping for the third time last month and may send a message that the young ruler is serious about boosting damaged economic relations with North Korea’s traditional ally, which has signed on to nuclear-related sanctions against its neighbor, and updating the country’s aging manufacturing processes.

“It is important to completely eliminate manual labor and modernize production processes,” Kim said, according to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper.

Kim was joined by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and photographs released by the official Korean Central News Agency showed the couple inspecting various products, including a well-known “spring fragrance” brand that has a market outside of North Korea as well.

“I had always hoped for a visit to the cosmetic factory in Sinuiju… They are famous for producing cosmetics with a spring scent,” Kim said in a quote reported by KCNA and later carried by the Singapore-based newspaper The Strait Times. “After being briefed about the good results at the factory, I took some time out of my schedule to visit.”

The Global Times, an official organ of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, published a report Monday on the “spring fragrance” product following its appearance in North Korean state-run media, finding it popular among Chinese consumers online and even in shops along the border. The outlet quoted one Beijing resident as saying she “bought it out of curiosity” but “did not use it frequently because the country is so mysterious and I do not know how the product is produced.”

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SOURCE: Newsweek, Tom O’Connor