In the past two months, North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un has acquired a global public profile that goes much beyond the propaganda photos put out by his state news agency.
Mr Kim has been reclusive – almost unseen by the wider world – ever since he took over as leader in 2011.
But, of late, he has been seen in Beijing, alongside Mrs Kim (and the Chinese president and first lady). He was pictured meeting Mike Pompeo, now the US secretary of state, over the Easter weekend. And then there was the inter-Korean summit of Friday, April 27. Mr Kim showed up, large, appropriately affable, watchful (even nerdy behind those glasses), and somewhat prone to jokiness with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in.
It was all quite charming in its own way, except for the knowledge of the reality of Mr Kim’s regime. First, he rules his country, godlike, unchallenged, unchallengeable. There was the execution of his uncle. The death of his half-brother by a nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur airport. There have been blood-curdling threats of nuclear destruction.
How does one square the two Mr Kims? The one who turned up at the inter-Korean summit and the one who rules North Korea with cruel determination?
Perhaps, the answer is so simple as to be trite. He has a new foreign policy that better addresses his interests at this point of time.
Now, all he needs is a new hairstyle. The old one – shaved sides and a wedge that sits atop his head – seriously distracts from the new foreign policy.