Kim Jong Un has been openly criticized by the only person in North Korea allowed to do so—himself. The North Korean leader delivered a tearful apology to his people during a massive military parade Saturday, saying his "efforts and sincerity" had not been enough to "rid our people of the difficulties in their life," reports the Guardian, which describes him as taking off his glasses to dry his eyes. "Our people have placed trust, as high as sky and as deep as sea, on me, but I have failed to always live up to it satisfactorily," he said. "I am really sorry for that." He repeatedly referred to the "countless ordeals" and "unprecedented disasters" the country is dealing with.
Kim praised the assembled troops for their response to recent storms and for helping to stop the pandemic from reaching the country, though few experts believe his claim that the country hasn't had a single infection. But the border closures have had a hugely negative impact on its trade with China, and Pyongyang-watchers say the remarks suggest pressure on the regime is growing. "Kim’s modesty and candor, and his tears and choking, were all highly unusual, even for someone who publicly acknowledges shortcomings and has an established pattern of being expressive," North Korea analyst Rachel Minyoung Lee tells Reuters. (Read more North Korea stories.)