Average North Korean leader looks like a nice guy
As many major news websites are reporting, North Korean state media has just released high-resolution head-and-shoulders portraits of 28 of the country’s top Communist officials, including supreme leader Kim Jong-un. And, for once, say knowledgeable North Korea watchers, the photos lack any obvious retouching, or “photoshopping”.
Although the group skews heavily toward octagenarians, the 27 top North Korean officials photographed surprising well—especially the 60 or 70-something Ri Yong-gil, a top military officer who turned up alive and kicking last week, despite reports that he’d been executed in February on charges of factionalism and corruption.
The photos were released to mark the end, on Monday, May 9, of an historic top level party congress in the North Korean capitol of Pyongyang—the first such congress in 35 years—described by Western media as a further effort to solidify the dictatorial rule of Kim Jong-un, grandson of Kim-Il-sung, the founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Exactly why the photos were released without the usual fake retouching is anyone’s guess but clearly it was done at the behest of Kim Jong-un.
Perhaps this is the Dear Leader’s idea of “honest government”.
I’m sure that I’ve seen this guy once before
On a whim, I ran the 27 headshots of leading North Korean Communist officials through a demo of Abrosoft FaceMixer 3 for Windows. The composite combines about 3 percent of the features and form of each man and looks younger than I expected. Otherwise, it looks more-or-less like any number of democratically-elected South Korean politicians that I’ve seen over the years, with the notable exception of the current President of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, the first woman to hold the office.
As soon as I began adding percentages of the baby-faced 33-year-old Kim Jong-il to the mix, my dour average North Korean high official not only became younger but it visibly cheered up.
Just a dash of Kim (15 to 18 percent) looked winningly avuncular, I though but as I notched the Kimness toward 30 percent I began to see shades of Mao Zedong, that superficially jovial leader of Communist China, who’s “reforms” and purges led to the death of tens of millions of people in China.
It could be said that what I saw was a figment of my imagination or just a coincidence but I would argue that where the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-il is concerned, any resemblance to actual Communist dictators and mass murders, living or dead is purely intentional. Click the images to enlarge them.