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During lunch, Mr. Kim patted students in encouragement and watched with a grin as two women ladled out soup for students. He poured a drop of sauce on his thumb so he could taste it.

His main emphasis, however, has been on military posts - with seven such reported visits since the New Year. They seek to show citizens that their new leader is firmly in command of the country’s most important institution, its 1.2 million-strong military, and that he is loved and respected by young troops and elderly generals alike.

While Kim Jong-il had two decades to prepare for leadership, Kim Jong-un was only publicly unveiled as heir in 2010.

Outside observers have raised doubts about Kim Jong-un’s ability to lead a country locked in a nuclear standoff with its neighbors and Washington and with a history of attacking South Korea.

Animosity is still high between the Koreas.

Six decades after the Korean War, the peninsula remains in a state of war because the 1950-1953 conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter potential North Korean aggression.

Bloodshed spiked in 2010, when a South Korean warship exploded in disputed waters, killing 46 sailors. South Korea said the North torpedoed the warship; the North denied the allegation.

North Korea also attacked a front-line South Korean island, killing two marines and two civilians.

Kim Jong-un clearly has made attempts to appear active and engaged with his soldiers, and this “helps raise troops’ morale and his profile,” said Kim Yeon-su, a North Korea expert at Korea National Defense University.

North Korea is telling its people that Kim Jong-un is capable of doing all these military activities himself.”

Kim Jong-un’s first reported military visit after his father’s death came on New Year’s Day. He appeared at ease, laughing and clapping, pulling officers close to give them words of advice, inspecting bunks and testing water faucets.

On Tuesday, state media reported that Mr. Kim visited the family of an air force commander after inspecting his unit and apologized for showing up during meal preparations.

State television also has played a documentary on Kim Jong-un meant to highlight his military experience, showing him in the cockpit of a tank, galloping by on horseback and poring over documents at night.

Despite his youth, Kim Jong-un often plays the part of a solicitous father during his meticulously documented military tours.

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