- Congress sends sweeping defense bill to Obama
- Multiple injuries as balcony collapses at London’s Apollo theatre during performance
- Egypt rights center raided, 2 Mubaraks acquitted
- New Mexico Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage constitutional
- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
- John McCain to Harry Reid: I’ll ‘kick the crap’ out of you
- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
N. Korea’s young leader gets rock-star treatment
Question of the Day
SEOUL (AP) — 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-il 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 Il-sung, his grandfather and the 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-il, analysts say. Kim Il-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 Kim Jong-il’s voice sounded like, analysts say, despite his ruling for 17 years until his death Dec. 17.
The younger Mr. Kim may be trying to emulate his grandfather 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,” Mr. Koh said.
Imitating Kim Il-sung is a “positive for Kim Jong-un because memories of his father, Kim Jong-il, aren’t very good among ordinary people,” Mr. Koh said. “People fondly remember the days of Kim Il-sung.”
As children in military uniforms cheered and clapped, a documentary on state TV showed Mr. Kim embracing one child’s face with his hands. 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 a half-dozen such 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, and 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 1950-53 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. South Korea said the North torpedoed the warship; the North denied the allegation. North Korea also attacked a front-line South Korean island, killing four.
By Michael P. Orsi
Edward Snowden should declare his patriotism in court
- Citing 'unfair system,' Obama commutes sentences for 8 crack offenders
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Huge backlash mounts over suspension of 'Duck Dynasty' star Phil Robertson
- PRUDEN: 'Tis the season for apologies
- EDITORIAL: Red faces at the White House
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- UHLER and FERRARA: Obamacare, the end of the progressive era
- Sebelius adds yet another exemption for Obamacare
- Breaking Bad: Alligators becoming the new pit bulls for drug dealers, cops say
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Southern Fried Politics from the Lens of a Persian-American Millennial
All of the world’s problems, solved on your back porch
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow