‘I’m really sorry’: Kim Jong-un sheds tears over his failings in rare apology to North Korean people

Tom Embury-Dennis
·2-min read

Watch: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un chokes up during speech

North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un has issued an unusual tearful apology over his leadership failings, telling his countrymen he had failed to adequately "rid our people of the difficulty in their lives".

The 36-year-old leader of the totalitarian state made the comments during a huge military parade held in the capital Pyongyang over the weekend to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party.

"Our people have placed trust, as high as the sky and as deep as the sea, in me, but I have failed to always live up to it satisfactorily. I am really sorry for that," Mr Kim said, according to a translation by The Korea Times.

Kim Jong-un delivers speech during North Korea military parade (KCNA TV)
Kim Jong-un delivers speech during North Korea military parade (KCNA TV)

"Although I am entrusted with the important responsibility to lead this country upholding the cause of the great Comrades Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il thanks to the trust of all the people, my efforts and sincerity have not been sufficient enough to rid our people of the difficulties in their lives," he added, referencing his grandfather and father respectively - North Korea’s previous two dictators.

Halfway through the speech Mr Kim was seen removing his glasses to wipe away tears - a sign analysts said of the increasing pressure he is under to deal with challenges faced by the country.

Mr Kim himself cited the coronavirus pandemic, sanctions and natural disasters as the "three hardships" North Korea faces today.

"It is important to look at why he has come to shed tears at such an occasion," director of the North Korea division at the Korean Institute for National Unification, Hong Min, told The Korea Times.

“Underneath his message, one can sense that Kim is feeling a lot of pressure on his leadership. During the speech, he used terms like 'grave challenges,' 'countless ordeals' and ‘disasters unprecedented in history'. This shows that he is having a really hard time governing, and he feels pressured from worries that his people might be upset or swayed by this kind of difficulty."

North Korea Party AnniversaryMAGNAI
North Korea Party AnniversaryMAGNAI

Mr Hong added the speech suggested Mr Kim was “highly concerned” about his regime’s stability.

The night-time military parade itself showcased a variety of weapons systems, including the unveiling of what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile that is larger than any of the North's known ICBMs.

It also displayed what was likely an upgraded version of a missile that can be fired from submarines.

While some experts say the weapons could have been mock-ups of missiles under development, the exhibits appear to signify North Korea's continuous upgrading of its weapons capabilities during stalled nuclear diplomacy with the US.

Additional reporting by AP

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