Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, smoking a cigarette
Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, smoking a cigarette after Pyongyang successfully launched a satellite into space. Reuters

The North Korea leader Kim Jong Un was pictured smoking last week when he was touring a newly built hospital in Pyongyang while simultaneously giving instructions to hospital authorities to keep the hospital clean and dust-free.

A report by the Pyongyang Times last week stated that the Korean leader visited a hospital built by the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and insisted on maintaining high standards of hygiene at the facility. According to the report, Kim Jong Un asked “questions in detail to see [that] they were thoroughly sterilized and dust-free.” All of this occurred while he was smoking in the facility and emphasizing his desire for maximum hygiene.

Speaking to reporters, he said that hospitals should be “neat and splendid." But pictures of his hospital tour clearly seemed to demonstrate his disregard for his own directives.

The North Korean leader’s fondness for cigarettes is well-known. Previously, a series of images released last month by the North’s official news agency, KCNA, showed Kim Jong Un smoking during and after a successful rocket launch on Dec.12.

In the photographs, he is spotted giving orders to launch the rocket; monitoring the screen during the launch; congratulating the officials after the successful launch; and puffing on the cigarette as he watched the television screens.

Previously, a YouTube video of Jong Un visiting a gymnasium and using the gym equipment with a cigarette in hand made international headlines.

North Korea has one of the highest smoking rates in the world. According to World Health Organization data, more than half of the population smokes. Smoking and offering a cigarette is viewed as a sign of hospitality in North Korea.

According to reports, Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, and his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, were also smokers. However, Kim Jong Il apparently quit smoking and drinking in 2000 after his health deteriorated and even banned smoking in public places in 2007. However, the ban didn’t last long; soon after recovering from his health ailments, Jong Il commenced smoking again, according to a DailyNK report.

Kim Jong Un allegedly started smoking and drinking alcohol when he was about 15 years old.

The pictures of Kim enjoying a cigarette at the hospital have surfaced at a time when North Korea is under the martial law and its leader has ordered the military to prepare for war with South Korea.