North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has met with Chinese survivors of a deadly coach crash and expressed “bitter sorrow”, official media said, in reports which portray him as a compassionate, thoughtful leader.
Kim featured on the front pages of at least one North Korean newspaper, clutching the hands of some of those injured in the accident in which 32 people died on Sunday.
Kim "said that the unexpected accident brought bitter sorrow to his heart and that he couldn’t control his grief at the thought of the bereaved families who lost their blood relatives," the official Korea Central News Agency reported.
The news is a rare negative report to be carried by Pyongyang’s tightly-controlled media, but will do no harm to efforts to promote a more human side of the young leader ahead of crucial talks he will hold with leaders from South Korean and the United States.
Kim has overseen the massive expansion of North Korea’s military capabilities since he assumed power in 2011, but he has adopted a milder tone and has been burnishing an image as a responsible statesman recently.
Such efforts culminated last week with a vow that his country would close its nuclear-test site and suspend long-range missile launches.
The young leader was dressed in a white medical overcoat as he met with bed-ridden patients and held talks with doctors, appearing sombre and concerned.
The North Korean leader said his people "take the tragic accident as their own misfortune", KCNA added.
Kims concern also reflects on the importance that Pyongyang places on its relationship with China.
Click Here: Cheap Chiefs Rugby Jersey 2019
Kim visited Beijing last month, in what observers viewed as an attempt to enlist Chinese support ahead of talks with South Korean president Moon Jae-in on Friday, and a summit with US President Donald Trump in coming weeks.
Kim also visited the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang following the accident, and the KCNA report twice mentioned Chinese officials thanking Kim for taking time out of his "busy" schedule to meet them following the crash.
The accident occurred on Sunday when a bus crashed off a bridge in North Hwanghae Province. Four North Koreans were also killed.