N Korea’s Kim Jong Un gets rock star treatment
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Last Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 16:23
Seoul: North Korea's young new leader gets rock star treatment when he visits his troops just as his father did. But while the late Kim Jong II mostly stayed aloof in dark shades, his son holds hands and hugs his soldiers.

Kim Jong Un seems to want to bond with his country's people. The style harkens back to Kim II Sung, his grandfather and revered founder of the country and ruling dynasty, and may reflect an attempt to turn a corner on the periods of hardship and famine under Kim Jong II, analysts say.

Kim II Sung's image as a daring young general fighting Japanese colonial troops is powerfully engraved in the minds of North Koreans.

Cheers, applause and calls of "Hurrah!" greet Kim Jong Un as he examines the heating systems of soldiers' quarters, the pressure of their water faucets, the books stacked in their libraries, even the taste of their food.

The North Korean state media reports and video footage of such "guidance visits" provide rare windows into the personalities of North Korea's leaders for outsiders and for the country's people alike.

Few North Koreans, for instance, even knew what the elder Kim's voice sounded like, analysts say, despite his ruling for 17 years until his death December 17.

In visits made so far by Kim Jong Un, believed to be in his late 20s, North Korea specialists have detected more warmth in his approach than the dour tours made in recent years by Kim Jong II.

The younger Kim may be trying to emulate Kim II Sung and move away from his father, who ruled during a famine in the mid- to late-1990s that killed hundreds of thousands, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea professor at Seoul's Dongguk University.

North Korea also has faced international condemnation and sanctions for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

"He'll try to look comfortable among the masses. He'll try to form an intimacy with the people, perhaps more than his father did," Koh said.


First Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 14:48

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