Kim Jong Un sports huge Peaky Blinders style cap weapon factory tour

A new Korea in fashion as leader Kim Jong Un sports enormous Peaky Blinders style cap for tour of weapon factory

  • Kim pledged to speed up efforts to advance military’s arms and war readiness 

Kim Jong Un has been pictured on a tour of North Korea’s key weapons factories wearing a cap reminiscent of the Peaky Blinders character Tommy Shelby, who also has a penchant for smoking cigarettes. 

Kim’s tour included facilities producing artillery systems and launch vehicles for nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, and he pledged to speed up efforts to advance his military’s arms and war readiness, state media said Sunday.

Kim’s three-day inspections through Saturday came as the United States and South Korea prepared for their next round of combined military exercises planned for later this month to counter the growing North Korean threat.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest level in years as the pace of North Korea’s missile tests and the joint U.S.-South Korea military drills, which Kim portrays as invasion rehearsals, have both intensified in a tit-for-tat cycle.

The factory tour has not been his first display of eccentric fashion. In March, North Korea released images and an eye-catching slow motion video of what it said was a test-fire of its biggest intercontinental ballistic missile yet under the orders of Kim Jong Un, who appeared to be channeling Tom Cruise in his aviator sunglasses and a leather jacket. 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance at a major weapon factory in this image released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on August 6, 2023

Kim Jong Un holds a weapon during his three-day inspection from August 3 until August 5, 2023 at major munitions factories in North Korea

Some experts say Kim’s tour of the weapons factories could also be related to possible military cooperation with Moscow that may involve North Korean supplies of artillery and other ammunition as Russian President Vladimir Putin reaches out to other countries for support in the war in Ukraine.

During a visit to an unspecified factory producing large-caliber artillery systems, Kim stressed the facility’s ‘important responsibility and duty’ in further boosting his military´s ‘war preparations,’ North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said.

Kim praised the factory’s efforts to employ ‘scientific and technological measures’ to improve the quality of shells, reduce processing times for propellent tubes and increase manufacturing speed. He also urged the factory to move ahead with development and large-scale production of new kinds of ammunition, the KCNA said.

Kim echoed the message in visits to two other factories, calling the delivery of launcher trucks designed to transport and fire ballistic missiles ‘a top priority’ for the military and urging for the ‘rapid expansion’ of production of more reliable engines for cruise missiles and drones.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un tries a weapon during his three-day inspection from August 3 until August 5, 2023 at major munitions factories in North Korea

Tommy Shelby played by Cillian Murphy in the hit show Peaky Blinders

Photographs show Kim Jong Un watching the Hwasong-17 launch with his daughter, Kim Ju Ae, who was wearing a £2,300 Christian Dior jacket

North Korean photos showed Kim walking past huge launcher trucks designed for intercontinental ballistic missiles which recent tests indicated they could potentially reach the U.S. mainland. Other photos showed Kim firing scoped rifles during a visit to a small arms factory where he said soldiers’ firearms need to be modernised, according to KCNA.

In the face of deepening confrontations with Washington and Seoul, Kim has been trying boost the visibility of his partnerships with Moscow and Beijing as he tries to break out of diplomatic isolation and insert himself into a united front against the United States.

His tour of the weapons factories comes after a giant military parade last month in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, where Kim was joined by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and a Chinese ruling party official while rolling out his most powerful missiles designed to target South Korea and the United States.

Shoigu’s presence at the July 27 parade, which came after Kim took him on a tour of a domestic arms exhibition, demonstrated North Korea’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and added to suspicions the North was willing to supply arms to Russia to support its war efforts.

Cheong Seong Chang, an analyst at South Korea’s Sejong Institute, said Kim’s visits to the factories likely had a dual goal of encouraging the modernisation of domestically produced weapons and examining artillery and other supplies that can possibly be exported to Russia.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance at a major weapon factory in this image released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency on August 6, 2023

Kim Jong Un is seen walking in shades and a leather jacket on March 24 before the test launch of Hwasongpho-17 in an undisclosed location in North Korea

Kim’s comments at the artillery factory about improving the quality of shells and the need to develop new types of ammunition, which he described as key to the country’s ‘national defense economic work,’ clearly communicate an intent for exports to Russia, Cheong said.

North Korea has been aligning with Russia over the war in Ukraine, insisting that the ‘hegemonic policy’ of the U.S.-led West forced Moscow to take military action to protect its security interests. But Pyongyang has denied U.S. accusations that it has been providing arms to Russia to aid its fighting in Ukraine.

Cheong said Kim’s comments at the factory about making missile-launch trucks could indicate that the North is seeing some progress in increasing the production of those vehicles, which would possibly improve the operational range of its ballistic weapons designed to target neighboring rivals and the U.S. mainland.

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