North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un shed tears, issuing an apology to his people for failing to live up to their expectations, The Guardian reported on Monday.
"Our people have placed trust – as high as the sky and as deep as the sea – in me, but I have failed to always live up to it satisfactorily," Kim said, according to a Korea Times translation cited by the media outlet.
"I am really sorry for that," the authoritarian leader continued, speaking to a crowd at a parade marking the 75th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party.
"Although I am entrusted with the important responsibility to lead this country – upholding the cause of the great comrades Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il thanks to the trust of all the people – my efforts and sincerity have not been sufficient enough to rid our people of the difficulties in their lives."
The republic's economy has been struggling to cope with US sanctions, facing a major decline due to the coronavirus pandemic. The closure of its borders with its largest partner China amid the pandemic has mounted up economic pressure even further.
According to CNN, the leader told the crowd he had "tears of gratitude," thanking the people of North Korea for their support amid the economic crisis. According to The Guardian, the address used strong wording, referring to "unprecedented disasters" the country has faced.
"It is important to look at why he has come to shed tears at such an occasion," Korean Institute for National Unification North Korea Division director Hong Min said, according to The Korea Times.
"Underneath his message, one can sense that Kim is feeling a lot of pressure on his leadership," he continued.
"At the end of the speech," said Hong, Kim "calls on the people to extend their full support and trust in him. From this we can see that he feels bad about the struggles of the people, but he also feels a lot of burden and stress from the situation and is highly concerned about the stability of his regime."
Kim also said he was "ashamed that I have never been able to repay you properly for your enormous trust," according to Fox News. "My efforts and devotion were not sufficient to bring our people out of difficult livelihoods," he continued.
"I also send this warm wish of mine to our dear fellow countrymen in the South, and hope that this health crisis would come to an end as early as possible and the day would come when the North and South take each other's hand again," Kim said, according to The Korea Times.
"On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the North Korea's ruling party's founding, Pyongyang expressed its hope for restoring inter-Korean relations as soon as the environment is created. We are making a note of this," the South's Foreign Ministry said Sunday, according to The Times.
"We look forward to North Korea's response to President Moon Jae-in's proposal for the end-of-war declaration and a health cooperation framework in Northeast Asia from his keynote speech at the 75th United Nations general assembly in September."
According to the media outlet, normalization efforts between the two countries collapsed following the demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office in Gaeseong in June and the killing of a southern maritime official by the North-Korean military late September.