Kim Jong Un Doesn’t Like this North Korean Amusement Park

North Korea's newly minted leader wasn't very impressed with this Pyongyang fun fair.

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KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/GettyImages

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspects the Mangyongdae Funfair amusement park in Pyongyang on May 9, 2012.

For a country that always seems ready to talk up its latest catfish-jowl recipe or quasi-successful missile launch, any public admission of failure is rare — especially when it comes from the top.

Last Wednesday, Kim Jong Un lambasted a North Korean amusement park for its ‘pitiful’ state of disrepair, according to North Korea’s official media agency. Kim was touring the government-operated Mangyongdae Funfair in Pyongyang, the nation’s capital, when he heavily criticized the upkeep of the amusement park. According to multiple news agencies and the Telegraph:

At one point, Kim leaned down to pick out grass from a crack in the pavement, saying to the officials, “I had no idea the park could be so pitiful.”

((PHOTOS: Rare Pictures from Inside North Korea)

Kim carried on while inspecting the park’s gardens and rides, continuously criticizing the peeling paint and raising concerns about the attraction’s safety. The trip was a sharp departure from the inspection tours taken by his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather Kim Il Sung, whom often praised North Korea’s facilities.

The young leader, believed to be around 29, succeeded Kim Jong Il last December after the elder Kim passed away. Though much remains to be seen, it has been hinted that the current Kim, who spent time in Switzerland as a teenager, is more open to economic reform than his father.

(MORE: Is Kim Jong Un Preparing to Become North Korea’s Economic Reformer?)

The criticism also comes shortly after Kim revealed a “master plan” for improving living standards throughout the country. Among Kim’s suggested blueprints include efforts to renovate, repair and develop new and existing road transportation options in the reclusive nation.

Kim went on, telling the North Korean media that ”To effect a drastic turn in land management, it is necessary to work out a master plan for land management in a scientific and realistic way and carry it out under a long-term plan.”

Kim’s current efforts could just be a way of establishing his image as a competent leader after his father’s death. Just last month, North Korea fired a rocket during a “missile test” in a political display of power with the newest Kim at the helm (even if later, the rocket turned out to be a dud).

(MORE: Kim’s Rocket Fails, but North Korea’s Space Threat Is Scarier Than You Think)

Jang Yong-seok, a researcher at Seoul National University, reminded South Korea’s news agency Yonhap of the bottom line: “The aim is to instill an awareness among ranking officials across North Korea that Kim Jong Un is a benevolent leader but also strict when it comes to principles.”

MORE: North Korea’s Next Kim: Dad’s Favorite, Kim Jong Un

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

May 9, 2012

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