Why is Kim Jong-un suddenly wearing sunglasses exactly like his father's?

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Wednesday 12 August 2015 12:30
Picture: KCNA/EPA

Kim Jong-un has been pictured greeting North Korea's athletes as they returned home from the East Asian Games this week.

In the photos, released by the state news agency, the supreme leader is wearing sunglasses which, although he has worn sunglasses on one or two occasions in the past, is unusual.

Picture: KCNA/EPA

It's not entirely clear why Kim is suddenly wearing the shades - other than the fact it's a bright day, but then no one else is wearing them. Could it be ill-health, following on from his spells of gout last year? Or something more symbolic?

One theory put to i100.co.uk by a North Korea observer is that Kim has previously been styled, albeit subtly, on his grandfather - North Korea's first "supreme leader" Kim Il-sung (below). But perhaps that could have changed.

Picture: Getty

The new shades look remarkably similar, identical in fact (just look at the temples), to the pair his father, Kim Jong-il, used to wear.

Picture: Getty

With some suggestions that Kim is merely a puppet, and the real power in the Hermit Kingdom lies in the hands of a few senior civil servants in the regime's Organisation and Guidance Department, perhaps this is just a way of the baby-faced tyrant trying to gain more credibility by harnessing the cult of personality which surrounded his father.

Or maybe, as Remco Breuker, professor of Korean studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, tells us: "I doubt whether there's anything behind the sunglasses. Of course, there maybe something with his eyes, but I don't think so."

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