North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has raised eyebrows with his strangely plucked new eyebrows, and a sweeping new “high hair” hairstyle, in new photos taken by the Korean Central News Agency, the official media mouthpiece of the North Korean government.
The new style for Kim Jong Un has left North Korea experts scratching their heads, after new pictures of Kim appeared this week in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers Party of Korea, of which Kim is leader.
A report in The South China Morning Post suggested that the North Korean dictator may be attempting to refashion his appearance to better resemble his grandfather, Kim il Sung, the founder of the North Korean state, who ruled unchallenged from the birth of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — as North Korea is formally known — in 1948, until his own death in 1994.
In 2013, Kim Jong Un was accused of having undergone plastic surgery to more closely resemble his grandfather, but at the time, the dictator reacted angrily to the rumor.
“The false report… released by enemies is a hideous criminal act which the party, state, army and people can never tolerate,” the Korean Central News Agency, which speaks directly for Kim Jong Un, wrote.
But compare the new “up do” hairstyle and the severely reduced eye brows in the latest KCNA photo of Kim, at the top of this page, to a photo by the same official news agency from 2011, shortly after the then-28-year-old Kim took over leadership of the reclusive state after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
Korea watcher Frank Feinsten, of the site KCNA Watch, provided another comparison on his Twitter account earlier this week.
— Frank Feinśtein (@frankfeinstein) February 19, 2015
In an article on the dictator’s sudden change in style, CNN wondered if Kim Jong Un’s “new look” also reflected a “new attitude,” as he prepares a crackdown on his rivals for power inside North Korea.
At a meeting of the Workers’ Party Central Committee on Wednesday — the meeting where the photos of Kim’s new look were taken — Kim declared that he was about to “wage an all-party intensive campaign against abuse of power, bureaucratism, irregularities and corruption.”
On the other hand, the new Kim Jon Un “look” may be the result of his recent international fame, when he was portrayed as a lead character in the controversial comedy film The Interview. In the movie, Kim is played by 40-year-old Korean-American actor Randall Park, who is a native of Los Angeles, California.
Or the new Kim Jong Un eyebrow plucking and up-do could simply be an attempt to keep up with his youthful generation. Born in 1983, Kim at age 32 is the world’s youngest national leader, and one of only about a half-dozen “millennial” leaders of any country.