Last week, North Korea took a step that surprised some outside analysts. It released a giant, high-resolution portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Remarkably, the photograph appeared not to have been digitally edited. This was the real Kim, flaws and all.
It was a seemingly out-of-character move for a country with a long history of digitally altering photographs for propaganda purposes. Some analysts even reasoned that the North Korean state might be trying to send a message with the image, perhaps even portraying North Korea as a “normal” country whose leader, while treated like a god by North Korean citizens, wasn’t vain at all.
What life looks like inside North Korea
epa05271691 A picture made available on 22 April 2016 shows a young girl performing ballet at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in Pyongyang suburbs, North Korea, 14 April 2016. The Mangyongdae Children's Palace is a large facility for extracurricular activities. Opened in May 1989, the building has hundreds of rooms for various activities including, mathematics, chemistry, computer science, sports, music and dance practice. EPA/FRANCK ROBICHON (Franck Robichon/EPA)
This is, of course, far from the first time that Kim has found himself a target of mockery online. He has become a regular guest in Reddit’s PhotoshopBattles — take a look here, here, here and here. Whatever the horrors of the North Korean regime, the desire not to take Kim seriously is certainly persistent.