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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Portraits worth a thousand words 

According to Stratfor($), something's going on in North Korea, and it's not because they hired a new decorator:
South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited a Seoul source with "good connections" in the North as saying that North Korea is removing pictures of Kim Jong Il from public places. This follows an Itar-Tass report on Nov. 16 that, at a recent reception in North Korea, there was only a "light rectangular spot and a nail in the wall" where the portrait of Kim once hung next to the one of his father, Kim Il Sung. Yonhap also cited Norbert Vollertsen, a German based in Seoul who advocates human rights in North Korea, as saying his sources in the North also confirm pictures had been removed, dating as far back as August.

If the large-scale removal of Kim's portraits is indeed taking place, it poses some interesting questions on the status of the reclusive regime. Is there a significant problem with Kim, physically or politically? Is there a massive political change coming in North Korea? Or is it something less drastic, but perhaps no less significant?

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