The mystery roller coaster rider–a smiling young white man amidst a group of North Koreans celebrating the wedding of Kim Jung Un–has been identified.
The grinning mystery roller coaster rider is Barnaby Jones, a British diplomat at the embassy in Pyongyang, Mother Jones magazine finally figured out.
The embassy helped clear up the situation of the mystery roller coaster rider a bit, The Atlantic Wire reported. It released a statement saying that British diplomats work closely with North Korean officials on a number of projects, so it would only make sense that they would also ride a roller coaster with Kim Jung Un, too.
… While this was an unusual event, it is vital that we actively engage with the North Korean administration since we work closely with them on a number of humanitarian, cultural and education projects which benefit the people of North Korea.
The photo of the mystery roller coaster rider when viral last week, with much speculation as to how a white man ended up in the middle of a North Korean propaganda mission on the life of its leader. North Korea’s state-controlled media gives only glimpses into the life of its leaders, and pictures with foreigners are very rare, Mother Jones noted.
“That is quite surprising to show a foreigner in such proximity to Kim Jong Un,” Charles K. Armstrong, director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University, told Mother Jones. “Normally pictures of the leader with a foreigner would be carefully staged.”
What made the mystery roller coaster rider even more remarkable was that he was apparently a nobody, or at least not famous enough to be recognized for the days that the picture was going viral.