North Korea’s Leader has Charmed Trump, Xi and Moon. But are They All Just Keeping Up With the Kims?
When Kim Jong-un delivered his annual New Year’s address last month, the scene was unrecognisable from his first speech as leader of North Korea six years prior. Gone were the Maoist suit and lapel pin featuring the images of his father, previous ruler Kim Jong-il, and grandfather Kim Il-sung, who founded the country.
“Kim has dramatically changed his image from a medieval, antisocial dictator to a reform-minded, peace-seeking, responsible leader – a statesman with whom the world can do business,” said Sung-Yoon Lee, Korea studies professor at The Fletcher School in Boston, referring to the charm offensive that has been under way since last February’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Spectators were enthralled by a North Korean delegation that included musical acts and the presence of Kim’s younger sister Kim Yo-jong – making her the first of the Kim dynasty to ever visit South Korea.