Photo: KCNA via AP
Kim Jong-un, the portly head of North Korea, has toured a state-of-the-art gym in Pyongyang and provided expert “field guidance” to the staff.The three-storey Physical Exercise Centre is part of the development of Thongil Street – “thongil” means reunification – which has seen the construction of modern apartment buildings, shops, theatres, hospitals and schools for the elite of the regime.
North Korea ‘s KCNA state media said Kim was accompanied by his new wife, Ri Sol-ju, and that the exercise centre had been “built according to the direct initiative and plan” of the Young General, as he is known.
It added that Kim is “always deeply concerned for the promotion of people’s health and living standards.”
Kim, wearing his trademark baggy Mao-style suit, examined the gym equipment and toured the wave therapy pool, the recovery room and a room for table-tennis.
According to KCNA, the gym covers nearly 148,000 square feet and has 138 exercise machines, including apparatus for running, cycling and rowing.
Kim told the staff that if office workers who work indoors all day, “take exercise and receive medical treatment at the centre, they can devote themselves to revolutionary work in good health.”
Kim and his glamorous wife have recently undertaken a series of well-publicised visits to industrial and public facilities, suggesting that Kim is attempting to come across as a caring and benevolent leader.
Efforts to impress the North Korean public have coincided with the country experiencing the worst drought in a century in the early summer months, while the countryside has been devastated by torrential rains and flooding in recent weeks.
Aid agencies have warned that while the privileged classes in Pyongyang will not go hungry, many people in rural areas are suffering malnutrition.
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