A month into a continuing series of threatening ultimatums from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, the 30-year old leader has an international fever that his fore-fathers would envy. Official statements and propaganda videos, such as last week’s reel of Jong-un shooting a handgun during a military drill, are soaking up views around the world.
Through aggressive threats and flashy shows of power, the North Korean leader has proven himself to be the champion of manipulating tense global news-wires. Conversely, he is the also subject of countless humorous memes. Here to discuss Kim Jong-un’s social media strategy is John Hudson, writer for Foreign Policy’s flagship blog Passport.
America is no stranger to North Korea in the headlines; South Korea's army is on alert today after a suspected cyberattack by their northern neighbors. The eniamatic empire is still living under the cloud of its departed dictator, Kim Jong Il. Now celebrity ghostwriter Michael Malice is setting his sights on an “unauthorized autobiography” based on late North Korean leader. The late public figure and his country isn’t often associated with comedy these days, but Malice seeks to use humor to elicit understanding amidst a strong cultural divide.
The well-publicized (albeit failed) launch of a satellite by North Korea last month sent a signal to the international community: Kim Jong-un is carrying on in the brinksman-like tradition of his father Kim Jong-il. Between them, they’ve built and maintained what is arguably the most isolated country on the planet – the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea or DPNK. Most of us will never visit the country, or see the grand monuments or stadia of its capital, Pyongyang.
A concert in Pyongyang in February 2012 commemorates the birthday of North Korea's late leader, Kim Jong Il. The backdrop shows a North Korean rocket that was launched in April 2009 — and was followed a month later by a nuclear test.
As North Korea reaches the final stage of preparations for a long-range rocket launch, concern is growing that it is in the early stages of preparing its underground test site for another nuclear explosion.
Pyongyang established the pattern three years ago when it tested a similar rocket and then followed it a month later with a nuclear test.
This time around, there may be a more urgent need to test a nuclear device. The bomb is very likely the result of a significant expansion of North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
A North Korean soldier stands guard in front of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket on a launchpad at the West Sea Satellite Launch Site, during a guided media tour by North Korean authorities northwest of Pyongyang on April 8.
Credit Kim Kwang Hon / AP
Mosaics of the two late North Korean leaders — Kim Jong Il (right) and Kim Il Sung, the country's founder — are unveiled Monday during celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
Credit Pedro Ugarte / AFP/Getty Images
North Koreans in Pyongyang rehearse for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth on April 15.
As North Korea gears up to launch a long-range rocket, political changes are afoot, too: Pyongyang has consolidated its succession process, giving a new title to its new leader, Kim Jong Un, who came to power in December after his father's death.
The rocket launch, which could come as early as Thursday in North Korea, has been condemned by the international community as being in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. So why now?
In a photo released by North Korea's Korean Central Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (third from right) and other senior leaders attend a memorial service in Pyongyang, March 25, marking the 100th day since the death of Kim's father, Kim Jong Il. North Korea has been sending the world mixed messages since the death of the elder Kim.
Credit Susan Walsh / AP
President Obama delivers remarks at Hankuk University in Seoul, South Korea, last week. During his visit, Obama warned Pyongyang against more provocative actions, at the same time reiterating the U.S. has no hostile intent toward North Korea.
President Obama greets Chinese President Hu Jintao at the start of their meeting in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday. The U.S. president asked the Chinese leader to use his influence with North Korean to discourage that country from launching a rocket next month.
President Obama came to South Korea to talk about global nuclear security with world leaders, but found himself trying to build a unified front against North Korea's planned rocket launch next month.
Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak strenuously warned North Korea not to go ahead with the launch. In a speech Monday at the summit in Seoul, Obama used some of the toughest language he has ever used addressed to the leaders of North Korea.
With a new leader in North Korea, the U.S. and South Korea are watching for clues of his policies. But so far tensions have not eased along the demilitarized zone. Here, two North Korean soldiers look across at a South Korean soldier on Dec. 2.
Credit Eric Talmadge / AP
Lt. Col. Ed Taylor speaks as he stands behind a wall of sandbags overlooking North Korea from the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone, or DMZ. Taylor commands a joint American-South Korean battalion along the frontier.
Credit Susan Walsh / AP
President Obama looks toward North Korea from a post on the South Korean side of the DMZ, the tense military border between the two Koreas, on Sunday. At right is U.S. Lt. Col. Ed Taylor, commander of the U.N. Command Security Battalion-Joint Security Area.
Credit Doualy Xaykaothao / NPR
Lt. Col. Edward Taylor commands the only U.S. and South Korean battalion on the Korean Peninsula. He stands near the Korean armistice line, with North Korea behind him.
North Korea's military fires missiles during a drill in this undated photo released Oct. 6, 2010, by the Korean Central News Agency. North Korea has agreed to stop nuclear activities and allow inspections, while the U.S. says it will provide food aid to the country.
Credit KNS / AFP/Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (center) inspects army units at an undisclosed location in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on Monday.
North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and missile tests, and the U.S. says it will provide food aid. The agreement should set the stage for a new round of nuclear disarmament talks. But analysts caution this is a small first step.
U.S. State Department officials returned from three days of talks in Beijing with a deal meant to improve the atmosphere for a resumption of so-called six-party nuclear disarmament talks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the deal in Congress on Wednesday.
The famous Tumblog Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things has already updated its "about" section to read in the past tense - it now says "the dear leader liked to look at things." Now the remixers have found a whole new side of the North Korean leader - as a DJ. Check out Kim Jong-Il Dropping the Bass to see him in action.
South Korean troops are on high alert today after the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong iI. Kim’s chosen successor and third son, Kim Jong Un, now becomes the figurehead of an exalted dynasty that is revered by the citizens, despite a dismal quality of life inside of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea or D.P.N.K.