Send by email

your name: email to: message:
Username: Email: Password: Confirm Password:
Login with
Confirming registration ...

Edit your profile:

Country: Town: State:
Gender: Birthday:
Email: Web:
How do you describe yourself:
Password: New password: Repite password:

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Kim Jong-un changes image for summit with South Korea and US

Por Jade

North Korea leader Kim Jong-un seems to have had a change of image before the media. This week Kim Jong-un is scheduled to meet with his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in, for the first inter-Korean summit in more than a decade. And in the coming months, the North Korean leader plans to meet with Donald Trump, president of the United States.

On the way to these meetings, the state media of North Korea are softening their traditionally hostile rhetoric and now present their leader as a warmer man. He is no longer seen with a cigarette in his hand and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, seems to have a more active role in a regime traditionally dominated by men. Now they refer to her as the "first lady".

In addition, perhaps in an attempt to show the sincerity of the North with a view to peace talks next week, nuclear missiles practically disappeared from the country's television screens. The South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo noted this week that, for some time, Kim has not been seen in public again with a cigarette. According to them, this could be part of a strategy to soften their image.

Known to be a big smoker, he was photographed for the last time smoking in early February, while taking a bus at midnight in Pyongyang. Now the pictures of the newspapers show him without a cigarette, and they no longer put ashtrays for him at official events. There have also been subtle changes in the way he is shown on television.

File images of the North Korean leader attending military or agricultural events are very common on North Korean television. However, there has been an increase in images of Kim visiting children, a proven method of projecting the leader as the father of a nation. His wife has also come out. The first state commitment she had in her charge was to accompany a Chinese envoy to the ballet. This fact earned her the titles of "First Lady of North Korea" for the first time on television and in print media. In previous appearances, she had been relegated to the background and was simply called "his wife", but this week state television made her the center of attention. This marked the first time in 45 years that a First Lady of North Korea has taken center stage in that way.

Foreign governments and observers from Korea have become accustomed to the way they insult their enemies. To President Trump, Kim Jong-un called him "old senile" and to the South Korea's former president, Park Geun-hye, "old witch and a prostitute". But now his insults directed at southern leaders have largely disappeared, and the media has reserved its criticism for those who oppose the inter-Korean peace process. This week, the North Korean newspaper Minju Choson called the members of the Freedom Party of Korea "fools" and "mentally deranged people" for questioning Pyongyang's motives for seeking peace. Also in the line of fire is the government of Japan. The newspaper claims that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to relaunch Japanese "imperial military expansionism". It calls him "truly regrettable" and describes his government as "astute Japanese reactionary."

When North Korea held a military parade on February 8, one day before the opening ceremony of the South Korean Winter Olympics, the event was seen as a setback for relations across the peninsula. But since then the missiles, a distinctive feature on North Korean television screens during 2017, have largely disappeared from the media. That does not mean that the military deployment has completely disappeared from the nation's screens. Life in North Korea revolves around a policy where the military is the first in all things in the country.

This means that a military uniform frequently appears on television, but the action sequences have given way to a wave of entertainment programming. While the usual communist dose of patriotic songs, band concerts, factories and farmworkers is still there, all those explosions and roaring fighter jets have been replaced by an increase in art programs and an emphasis on youth. The media and newspapers in North Korea are under state control, and central television is the only means of information for many citizens. It is not yet known if these changes will be permanent or temporary, but it is clear that Pyongyang is preparing its people for what these vital weeks can bring.