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North Korea’s leader criticizes health sector

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This undated picture, released by North Korea’s official KCNA on August 21, 2018, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) visiting the Myohyangsan Medical Appliances Factory in Myohyangsan. (Via AFP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has criticized his country’s public health sector, urging swift development and modernization.

North Korea’s official KCNA reported on Tuesday that Kim denounced the lack of visible modernization at the Myohyangsan Medical Appliances Factory in North Phyongan Province, northeast of the capital, Pyongyang, during a visit to the factory.

“There is nothing to be proud of in the public health sector,” Kim said, vowing to redirect his personal attention to updating the factory as part of a campaign to “radically” improve “domestic production, automation, and modernization.”

Back in April, Kim ordered the suspension of North Korea’s missile and military nuclear tests — the purported causes of international sanctions hitting the country economically hard — and said Pyongyang would pursue economic growth and peace.

This undated picture, released by North Korea’s official KCNA on August 19, 2018 and courtesy of Korean News Service (KNS), shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) inspecting construction sites in Samjiyon County, in North Korea’s Ryanggang Province. (Via AFP)

A diplomatic thaw had earlier started with long-time rival South Korea. And negotiations with the United States, the force behind much of the international pressure on Pyongyang, ensued.

While ties with South Korea have improved considerably, a full-blown détente with the US remains unlikely. On Friday, Kim denounced the “brigandish” sanctions imposed by “hostile forces” — an apparent reference to the US — which he said aimed to “stifle” his country.

Meanwhile, during another site inspection in the northern county of Samjiyon, Kim criticized poor workmanship on a railway to the border with China to be completed next year, urging even roadbeds, non-accident-prone roads, and increased electricity production, KCNA reported on Sunday.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula began to ease in January this year, when Kim expressed interest in the betterment of relations with South Korea. Vigorous diplomacy soon followed, and Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in then met in a historic summit in April.

On June 12, Kim also met with US President Donald Trump.

But follow-on diplomacy with the US has been slow. Washington has stressed that sanctions will remain on North Korea until it fully denuclearizes. Pyongyang says a step-by-step approach will only be acceptable.


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