NK builds benevolent image of leader Kim Jong-un
North Korea's state media have apparently set out to build an image of the country's new leader Kim Jong-un as caring as citizens show little sign of warming to the young ruler.
Numerous reports in the North Korean media recently have stressed Kim's concern for his people by quoting his instructions to officials during inspection trips to industrial sites and public facilities.
On Wednesday, the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) carried a report titled "Kim Jong-il's History of Love for People Continues in DPRK," claiming such devotion ran in the leader's family. DPRK is the acronym of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s, inherited power from his father Kim Jong-il upon the latter's death in December.
"It was leader Kim Jong-il's noble outlook on the people that the masses are almighty and the Korean people are great," the KCNA said in an English-language dispatch monitored in Seoul. "With this outlook he had devoted all his life to the people's happiness. His history of love for the people steadily continues in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, thanks to the dear respected Kim Jong-un."
The report went on to describe the leader's visits to a machine plant, a theater and an amusement park, all of which were apparently aimed at learning about the working conditions of employees and demonstrating a "proper spirit of serving the people."
Photos of the leader released by the North's media have often shown him linking arms with his people and displaying affection toward them, a style of leadership different from his father's. North Korean media have also been quick to report each time Kim Jong-un has sent handwritten replies to letters from his people.
Baek Seung-joo, a senior analyst at the state-run Korea Institute of Defense Analyses in Seoul, said the media's image-building could be designed to strengthen weak public support for Kim Jong-un.
"The fact that North Korea is highlighting Kim Jong-un's people-friendly approach is evidence (the regime) knows well the weakness of its popular foundation," he said.
Last week, North Korean media for the first time reported on a public censure by the leader. According to the news reports, Kim Jong-un lashed out at officials of an amusement park in Pyongyang for neglecting to take proper care of the facility's grounds and rides.
"Seeing the weeds grown in between pavement blocks in the compound of the funfair, he, with an irritated look, plucked them up one by one," the KCNA said in a May 9 dispatch. "He scolded officials, saying why such things do not come in their sight and querying could the officials of the funfair work like this, had they had the attitude befitting master, affection for their work sites and conscience to serve the people." (Yonhap)