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LinkAsia | Apr 12
North Korea appears to be preparing to launch at least one medium-range rocket to celebrate the anniversary of founding father Kim Il-sung's birth....
In North Korea, Kim Jong-un is continuing his efforts to project a more personable persona than his late father, Kim Jong-il. During a recent inspection of army units near the West Sea, he appeared positively jovial. Here's MBC with more on the North Korean leader's charm offensive.
Kim Jong-un, sitting on the edge of a shabby wooden boat, relaxed and smiling. Kim is accompanied by only a few officials close to him, like Choe Ryong-hae, director of the Korean People's Army General Political Bureau, with no bodyguards. Kim inspected frontline artillery units on the Western Sea's Jangjae and Mu islets within cannon shot of the South Korean military. The Mu islet unit was responsible for shelling the South's Yeonpyeong Island in 2010; Kim awarded it with the title: Hero of The Republic.
Korean Central Television, North Korea:
The Dear Supreme Commander comrade even skipped his breakfast, heading to the islet's defense unit on a small wooden boat with a 27 horsepower motor, against wind and tide.
During his visit to the unit, Kim was extremely unconventional, going beyond his normal informality. He took a commemorative photo holding hands with soldiers and their families. He also hugged children and patted their cheeks. Dozens of the unit's soldiers surrounded him and touched his arm. Kim accepted it with a smile. He's very different from his father Kim Jong-il, who used to be accompanied by lots of guards and avoided public appearances.
Chang Yong-suk, Seoul National University:
I think he shows people-friendly leadership, by opening up and actively embracing people.
Kim's visit is also interpreted as demonstrating his domination of the military and status as the top leader in North Korea, to insiders as well as to outsiders, in the run-up to the start of the annual joint military exercises codenamed 'Ulchi Freedom Guardian' involving South Korea and the US.
North Korea has traditionally opposed US-South Korea military exercises on the grounds that they are provocative preparations for war.