SEOUL, Kim Jong Un visited a North Korean stationery factory, his first field guidance visit to a civilian site in three weeks, according to state news agency KCNA.
The plant was newly constructed and manufactures mostly notebooks for school use.
“Comrade Kim Jong Un conducted field guidance at the Dandelion Notebook Factory,” North Korea said in statement, adding Kim came up with the name for the new plant.
Kim’s last trip to a nonmilitary site, an upscale department store in Pyongyang, took place three weeks ago.
Kim’s wife Ri Sol Ju and sister Kim Yo Jong had accompanied him to the store allegedly filled with North Korea-made “cosmetics, household electronics and food items.”
The North Korean leader reportedly said the notebook factory “satisfied him” because it produced a variety of notebooks for “kindergarteners, elementary, junior high, and college students.”
“The paper is of good quality, the binding is impeccable, and the design is suited to different age levels, and by subject,” Kim said, according to KCNA.
Kim outlined a plan that would raise the production of notebooks from 50 million to eventually 150 million, and urged the enterprise to localize the sourcing of raw materials.
The visit comes at a time when in another part of North Korea Pyongyang appeared to be preparing for a fifth nuclear test.
In an analysis for 38 North, a Johns Hopkins University website dedicated to North Korea issues, Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., wrote recent commercial satellite imagery showed “very limited activity” at Punggye-ri nuclear site ahead of the Seventh Party Congress on May 7.
North Korea has been able to conduct detonations on short notice by slow rolling preparations, Bermudez wrote.
By Elizabeth Shim