For North Korean factory managers, a visit by leader Kim Jong Un is the highest of honors and quite possibly the most stressful event imaginable.
The chief engineer at the Songdowon General Foodstuffs Factory had looked forward to the visit for nearly a decade. His factory churns out tons of cookies, crackers, candies and bakery goods, plus dozens of varieties of soft drinks sold around the country. In its showroom, Kwon Yong Chol proudly showed off one of his best-sellers, a nutrient soup made with spirulina, a blue-green microalgae "superfood."
"Ever since construction began everyone here had wanted the leader to visit, and this year he did. His visit was the biggest thing that could happen to us," Kwon, smiling broadly, said of Kim Jong Un's visit in July. "He ate our instant noodles. He said they were delicious."
Not all managers have been so fortunate.
There's a lot on the line for North Korea these days. And Kim means business.