SEOUL, Dec. 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared in public 53 times this year, the fewest appearances since 2012, his first full year in power, data showed Friday.
The figure, which represents the total number of Kim's public appearances reported by North Korean media from Jan. 1 to Dec. 17, is lower than 85 last year and 212 in 2013, according to a commentary published by Sejong Institute.
By purpose, those related to economic activities accounted for 14 cases, or 26 percent of the total, marking the fewest since Kim took power.
Public appearances related to military activities totaled 12, more than 8 reported in 2018. The North Korean leader did not appear in public for diplomatic activities.
In contrast, those related to domestic political activities accounted for nearly half of all public appearances.
Kim made eight on-site inspections this year, most of which were related to health and natural disaster issues.
The institute explained that the decline in public appearances by Kim was largely due to the new coronavirus.
"Due to economic and external factors, like COVID-19, it was a difficult situation (for North Korea) to anticipate good outcomes," Choi Eun-ju, research fellow at Sejong Institute, said. "It seems that rather than visiting sites amid virus risks, activities were more focused on getting details on issues through meetings."
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