Kim Jong Un’s personal photographer fired for breaking photography rules

Ri, circle in red, photographing Kim Jong Un on March 10 during the Supreme People's Assembly elections
In this still shot, taken by Daily NK prior to being edited by Korean Art Film Studio, Ri, circle in red, is shown photographing Kim Jong Un on March 10 during the Supreme People’s Assembly elections. Image: DPRK Today

Kim Jong Un’s personal photographer who is tasked with taking videos and photos of the leader up close has been fired and kicked out of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) for damaging the “Supreme Dignity” (Kim Jong Un).

“The personal photographer and photo editor for Kim Jong Un, a 47-year-old man with the surname Ri, who is part of the Korean Art Film Studio, was kicked out of the party and fired from his position on March 12,” said a source in Pyongyang on March 18.

Ri accompanied Kim as his personal photographer during the recent second US-DPRK summit in Hanoi.

Ironically, the turn of events occurred due to his strong devotion and enthusiasm for the job.

According to the source, Ri filmed Kim voting at the No. 10 election district on March 10, the day of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) election. Ri reportedly violated set rules for filming Kim when he took a picture right in front of the leader and the camera’s flash covered Kim’s neck.

A video published on the North Korean international-facing media outlet “DPRK Today” showed Ri moving around energetically, taking photos of Kim upon his arrival by car in front of the district’s election site.

The scene that caused an issue in the video was after Kim got out of his car, shook hands with the candidate for the district, Kimchaek University of Technology President Hong So-Hon, turned around and was waving to locals cheering his arrival.

Ri’s presence blocked part of Kim’s body from the crowd for around three seconds, and the North Korean authorities immediately considered this as damaging to the Supreme Dignity. The flash of the camera Ri was using also covered Kim’s neck in the shot, which was an even bigger issue.

Another camera filming the scene captured what had transpired and Ri was accused of “adjusting the angle so that the camera’s flash covered the Dear and Respected Supreme Leader Comrade’s neck.”

Moreover, Ri violated the rule that photographers must not take a picture of the Supreme Leader within a radius of two meters, and a further rule that restricts photographers from taking pictures or video right in front of the leader.

Ultimately, the Korean Art Film Studio ruled that Ri had committed the “anti-Party act of damaging the Supreme Dignity of our Party” and decided on March 12 that he would be kicked out of the party and removed from his position, the source said.

“The head photographer who had been at the scene told Ri that the video he took right in front of Kim Jong Un was a ‘video that damages the Supreme Dignity,’ and fired him,” a separate source in Pyongyang with knowledge of the incident said.

“An investigation of the video editing mistake in the video taken by the Korean Art Film Studio of the election site scene began on March 13. The video was re-edited to delete the scene and now the video doesn’t show Ri at all.”

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