Kim Jong Il visited the Hamhung Youth Electric Appliances Factory on September 23, 1999.
The General looked round the case-assembling shop and then the ordinary appliances shop. There he saw a switchboard that was being assembled.
The manager of the factory told him that they were switchboards and panel boards to be sent to the small- and medium-sized power stations under construction.
A smile passed over his face.
The manager was baffled as the case for the main body of the switchboard looked jagged. He murmured, smiling awkwardly, that the case was made from an old drum as steel plates were not easily available.
The General looked surprised at this explanation and said that he was not faulting the shape of the case.
After studying every nook and cranny of the switchboard, he told officials that its rough surface did not matter and there was no need to find fault with the cases for the switchboards and panel boards made from old drums.
Then he said:
“Power is generated from an electric generator, not a switchboard or panel board. I do not like boasting of the large buildings and gleaming switchboards and other incidental equipment for small- and medium-sized power stations.”
The officials flushed crimson with embarrassment.
He resumed: When I was inspecting a unit, I saw a glittering switchboard imported from a foreign country. It broke down and it was all but impossible to repair it because its parts were not available. I was convinced that nothing is better than our own things.
Then he moved to the assembly shop and examined the emergency power cutout that the workers developed by themselves.
He inquired about the technical specifications of the device as compared to its imported counterpart and said that the Korean device was clearly superior and its quality was good though it did not look so attractive as the imported device.