Interpreting What a New Photo of Kim Jong-un Means

Here is how scholar Michael Madden interprets a recent picture of Kim Jong-un with the North Korean delegation that recently returned from the Winter Olympics:

Hiding the notebooks behind their backs and thus clasping their hands in the Supreme Leader’s presence would be interpreted as highly disrespectful.

On the other hand, there could be a degree of spontaneity. Perhaps, meeting done, the photo session was impromptu and Mr Choe and Mr Ri did not have time to put their notebooks down.

We don’t know if the meeting was lubricated with wine toasts or liquors. Choe Hwi is relaxed and bemused, while Ri Son-gwon (being a former military intelligence officer) almost cracks a smile, in contrast to the fairly tense expression he wore throughout the weekend in the South.

Closer to Mr Kim, we find Kim Yong-nam holding hands with the North Korean leader.

There is an act of respect and deference on Kim Jong-un’s part as he is the one holding Kim Yong-nam’s arm.

On Kim Jong-un’s other side, again in an act of respect, Kim Yo-jong clutches her brother’s arm, like other officials that are subordinate to him. The Supreme Leader, when we look closely at his face, is amused at the whole scene. There is a subtle transparency here.  (……)

The recently released photo is intended to show the more relaxed, freewheeling aspects of the North’s top leadership. It softens some of the sharp edges and shows a youthful leader so confident in his role and position in the regime that he is ready to deal with the South.  [BBC]

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I am a US military veteran that has served all over the world to include in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. I have been blogging about Korea, Northeast Asia, and the US military for over 10 years.

One Comment

  1. Yes, they all look super light hearted and fun loving! roll I want to party with those guys or is it be in THE PARTY with those guys?

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