SEOUL, Oct. 17 (UPI) — Kim Jong Un marked the completion of a new eye hospital with a recent visit, according to North Korean state media.
The KCNA report of Kim’s public appearance is the first to surface in 11 days, after the North Korean leader remained notably absent from celebrations of the founding of the Korean Workers’ Party on Oct. 10.
Kim’s name was also not mentioned in a list of attendees at a national convention of senior North Korean officials on Monday.
On Tuesday, however, Pyongyang’s state-controlled news agency reported Kim toured the completed Ryugyong General Ophthalmic Hospital in the Munsu district of Pyongyang, while providing field guidance.
Kim said the hospital had been “built extraordinarily” and praised the efficient manner in which the clinic had been constructed, South Korean news service Newsis reported.
“It seemed like yesterday we chose the site for the hospital in January, but already the hospital has been built extraordinarily,” Kim said, according to KCNA.
Kim appeared to approve of the architecture: The façade of the hospital’s outpatient ward was designed in the shape of the human eye and the hospital ward’s outer walls includes eye charts, the report stated.
The North Korean leader praised the “world-class hospital” for its energy-efficient building that includes solar panels, a rooftop and a garden where patients could relax.
“I have fulfilled another wish to do something for the people,” Kim said.
North Korea’s healthcare facilities, however, may not be in top form at many other locations.
Sources in the country have said the free healthcare Pyongyang touts is a “thing of the past,” and that North Koreans visit doctors through an informal network of medical practitioners.