North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un made a recent visit to an area in the Hermit Kingdom that was slammed by a typhoon, firing a top official there as communist party officials have warned other local leaders they must follow orders when such storms strike, state media reported Sunday.
During a ruling party meeting at the scene, Kim had an “in-depth discussion about the issue of the recovery from damage” and “studied and decided” on the detailed measures such as the organization of building a force to be urgently dispatched to the areas, state media reported.
While KCNA didn’t say if any deaths or injuries were reported in the region, the country’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported Saturday that “dozens of casualties” were reported in Kangwon province, south of the Hamgyong provinces.
The paper reported that North Korea’s ruling party had called for punishment of officials whose failure to follow orders results in “dozens of casualties” during typhoons.
Officials in Kangwon in particular were said to be “gravely punished” for failing to evacuate residents to safety.
During the meeting, Kim also fired Kim Song Il, chairman of the South Hamgyong Provincial Committee of the Workers’ Party, over his response to the typhoon and appointed a successor.
North Korea has been dealing with torrential rains, floods, and typhoons in recent months in what has been one of the wettest rainy seasons on record, according to Reuters.
This weekend’s apparent trip was the latest in a series of high-profile visits by Kim and his deputies to areas hit by natural disasters in recent weeks.
Some experts say Kim likely attempted to project an image of a leader looking after people’s livelihoods as he seeks to bolster internal unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and U.S.-led sanctions.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that officials in the North are worried that recent natural disasters impacting farmers could aggravate food shortages.
KCNA said Sunday that North Korea is bracing for another typhoon and that authorities were taking steps to prevent possible casualties and damage.
South Korea’s weather agency said Typhoon Haishen was expected to skirt the Korean Peninsula’s east coast on Monday with heavy rains and strong winds.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.