International desk, October 30: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has visited a cosmetics factory in Pyongyang, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju and sister Kim Yo-jong.State media released undated photos of the visit on Sunday. Both women are rarely seen in public.
Ms Kim’s appearance comes shortly after her recent promotion to a powerful position in North Korea’s government.
Foreign luxury goods including make-up have become scarce in North Korea after several rounds of UN sanctions.
Over the years many countries have stopped importing luxury goods into North Korea as a result of sanctions.
North Korea appears to have developed its own cosmetics industry, with reports of local “high-end” brands such as Bomhyanggi and Unhasu becoming popular with consumers.
Though he is better known for his photo ops at military installations and missile test sites, Mr Kim’s visit to a cosmetics factory serves an important propaganda purpose in telegraphing the legitimacy of Mr Kim’s rule to the Pyongyang elite and middle-class.
He has frequently been photographed at factories and other key sites of North Korea’s civilian economy, while state media have claimed significant advances in the production of consumer goods such as 3D televisions and smartphones.
The visit is “to show that North Korea can look out for its own people, and provide prosperity on a level comparable to Beijing and Seoul,” North Korean analyst Ankit Panda told the BBC.
“Even if we know it’s not true, it’s important for the regime to show its people that it can provide material pleasures.”
During his visit to the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory, Mr Kim praised the company for producing “world-level cosmetics” and for upgrading its premises to a level “to be proud of in the world”, reported North Korean state news agency KCNA.