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Kim Jong Un calls for ’emergency measures’ to repair massive typhoon damage

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SEOUL, Sept. 9 (UPI) — As North Korea commemorated the 72nd anniversary of its founding on Wednesday, leader Kim Jong Un said the country needed to turn its focus toward repairing the damage from typhoons that have battered the country in recent weeks.

The North Korean leader chaired a military meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea and said that the devastating typhoons would “change the direction of our struggle,” state-run Korean Central News Agency reported on Wednesday.

“Due to the unexpected damage by typhoon we are faced with the situation in which we cannot help but change the direction of our struggle after comprehensively considering the year-end tasks that were underway,” Kim said at the meeting, which was held on Tuesday, according to KCNA.

Kim visited the eastern town of Komdok over the weekend to survey the damage of Typhoon Maysak, which struck last week. North Korea’s southeastern provinces were previously slammed by Typhoon Bavi in August, while another typhoon, Haishen, hit the country on Monday.

More than 2,000 houses and dozens of public buildings were destroyed or inundated in Komdok, Kim said, while road and rail systems were extensively damaged around several mining complexes in the area.

The impact has led to a “total paralysis” of vital transport systems, Kim said.

Restoring the Komdok area should be given “top priority for reviving the important arteries of the national economy,” Kim said, calling for “state emergency measures” to build new homes and restore rails and roadways by Oct. 10.

Oct. 10 is an important date in North Korea, marking the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Analysts have speculated that North Korea may hold a military parade to celebrate the occasion, using it as an opportunity to show off its latest weapons.

At the end of 2019, Kim warned of a “new strategic weapon” coming soon, but it is unclear how much the toll from the COVID-19 pandemic and the typhoons have altered the country’s plans.

North Korea conducted weapons tests of missiles and a rocket launcher in March and April of this year, and a satellite analysis by think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies released last week suggested that Pyongyang was preparing to test a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Kim said the task of restoring Komdok would be entrusted to the People’s Army and called for all damage to be repaired by the end of the year, according to KCNA.

Over the weekend, Kim sent an open letter to Workers’ Party members in Pyongyang, the nation’s capital, saying that “elite divisions of around 12,000 hardcore party members” would also be dispatched to the typhoon-hit regions to assist in the reconstruction.

In the wake of the typhoon’s damage, North Korea marked the 72nd anniversary of its founding on Wednesday, with leaders from several countries sending their congratulations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to Kim, calling North Korea a “friendly neighbor” and saying that their multiple meetings have “usher[ed] relations between the two parties and two countries into a new historical era,” China’s Xinhua News Agency reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also offered congratulations, praising “the friendly and good-neighborly nature” of the relationship, according to KCNA.

Other countries that sent messages included Vietnam, Nigeria, Cuba, Laos and Myanmar.

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