Kim Jong Un Went to a Lubricant Factory

Kim Jong Un is back on the PR trail. The North Korean leader used his visit to the Chonji Lubricant Factory as a chance to show off what he bragged are the great technological and industrial leaps being made by his country. During the visit, which was reported by North Korean state media on Tuesday, ...

Photo via Rodong Sinmun
Photo via Rodong Sinmun
Photo via Rodong Sinmun

Kim Jong Un is back on the PR trail. The North Korean leader used his visit to the Chonji Lubricant Factory as a chance to show off what he bragged are the great technological and industrial leaps being made by his country. During the visit, which was reported by North Korean state media on Tuesday, Kim gave "field guidance" to the employees and praised their work, which he said yielded a product that previously had to be imported, as proof of the country's progress. The industrial fruits of North Korea, his pitch went, are world class.

Touring both the factory floor and control rooms, Kim effused over the factory's automation. Still, according to the state media report, he called for "steadily improving the technical specifications" to improve "international competitiveness."

He regretted though, that his father, the country's former leader, didn't survive to reap the rewards he sowed. "Visiting the factory established thanks to the undying patriotic feats of leader Kim Jong Il," he reportedly said, who "handed down to the younger generation as results of the hardships experienced by himself." Apparently filled with emotion, he continued, "I feel very sorry for failing to show him this modern splendid factory even once. This factory is a posthumous one."

Kim Jong Un is back on the PR trail. The North Korean leader used his visit to the Chonji Lubricant Factory as a chance to show off what he bragged are the great technological and industrial leaps being made by his country. During the visit, which was reported by North Korean state media on Tuesday, Kim gave "field guidance" to the employees and praised their work, which he said yielded a product that previously had to be imported, as proof of the country’s progress. The industrial fruits of North Korea, his pitch went, are world class.

Touring both the factory floor and control rooms, Kim effused over the factory’s automation. Still, according to the state media report, he called for "steadily improving the technical specifications" to improve "international competitiveness."

He regretted though, that his father, the country’s former leader, didn’t survive to reap the rewards he sowed. "Visiting the factory established thanks to the undying patriotic feats of leader Kim Jong Il," he reportedly said, who "handed down to the younger generation as results of the hardships experienced by himself." Apparently filled with emotion, he continued, "I feel very sorry for failing to show him this modern splendid factory even once. This factory is a posthumous one."

Kim’s well-publicized inspections have notably deviated from the mostly military displays favored by his father, tending to conspicuously highlight the economic growth and development. (Not that he doesn’t, say, go joyriding on sweet retro submarines from time to time.) The oft-mocked shows of North Korea’s supposed prowess have paired Dadaist stunts — Maryana Naumova, the 15-year-old Russian athlete whom the Moscow Times called the "strongest girl on the planet in powerlifting," was recently flown over after writing Kim a letter — with schlock photo shoots.

That North Korea’s propaganda shop’s claims have mostly been met with derision from China to Hollywood may have solidly pissed off the country’s young dictator, but the attention proves that North Korea’s propaganda might be its one and only world-class export.

Thomas Stackpole is an Assistant Editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @tom_stackpole

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.