Kim Jong Un’s 260-foot luxury yacht has been spotted moving toward his private compound as North Korea struggles with famine and COVID-19.
Satellite-imaging company Planet Labs captured pictures of the yacht, as well as a second 200-foot yacht, moored at the private beach near Kim’s palace at Wonsan on July 12.
The images were published by the South Korean outlet NK News, which marked up the images on its website. The weather around Wonsan in July is warm, and the temperature on Tuesday was 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
A tweet from May about the yacht’s movements included an image of the yacht.
The larger of the yachts is constructed as a floating amusement park, with a double waterslide, an Olympic-size pool, and a multistory lounge, the outlet reported.
It is unclear who is using the luxury boats, which have been lent to friends and family in the past.
The yachts’ movements coincide with days the leader did not make public appearances and can be a reasonably reliable indicator of his movements, NK News reported.
In April last year, during an extensive withdrawal from public view, Kim’s 200-foot yacht was spotted moving around the same spot.
Less than a month ago, Kim made a rare announcement. He said there was a “tense” situation with North Korea’s food supply, which he attributed to typhoons in the past year. Food prices have skyrocketed, prompting one UN official to propose lifting sanctions in order to prevent mass starvation, Reuters reported.
The country also recently hinted at a COVID-19 surge, after Kim reshuffled his senior officials, blaming them for a “great crisis” in their response to the pandemic.
North Korea does not release COVID-19 data, and it’s long said that it’s free of the virus, but reports from outside the country suggested that there have been surges in the past year.
The country has been sluggish in attempting to access vaccines, despite being entitled to 2 million doses through the UN’s COVAX scheme, Voice of America News reported.
US and South Korean officials said that it’s plausible that Kim used the resort to shelter from the virus in May last year, Sky News reported.
Kim is a heavy smoker, a high risk factor in complications for COVID-19.
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