Kim Jong Un made an unusual public appearance at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where he met with North Korean schoolteachers, according to a state media report on Tuesday.
The North Korean leader’s visit with teachers who work in remote areas of the country was made public the day after the United Nations Security Council passed its toughest sanctions against Pyongyang, following North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3.
During the civilian-related visit, the first of its kind for Kim in 84 days, Kim showered effusive praise on teachers, many of them women who posed with Kim in a souvenir photograph, wearing traditional dress.
“My head is bowed before the patriotism of educators who are cultivating a clean conscience and inscribing the revolutionary mark, while bearing responsibility for the future of the fatherland,” Kim said.
Kim may have maintained a positive mood while celebrating North Korean patriotism and educators, but according to South Korean analyst Chung Sung-jang of the Sejong Institute, Kim may be feeling a substantial amount of pressure, following the adoption of new sanctions that will disrupt the oil supply to the country, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported.
At least one North Korean diplomat has warned the United States will suffer greatly for supporting sanctions.
Experts say North Korea is likely to soon return to a pattern of provocations, in response to a ban on North Korean textile exports and sanctions against additional workers in Russia and China.
By Elizabeth Shim