Even though a number of South Korean and international media outlets have reported the distribution of portraits of Kim Jong Eun to Party and security service cadres, the majority of cadres and average citizens have heard nothing of it, according to The Daily NK’s sources.
On the 12th, Radio Free Asia reported that Kim Jong Eun’s portraits have been given to cadres, while on the 18th Asahi Shimbun reported, “Kim Jong Eun’s color portraits have been delivered to regime officials and they are going to distribute them to each household.”
However, cadres from Yangkang and North Hamkyung provinces who spoke to The Daily NK say that they have not received any information on portraits. One source explained, “When portraits are sent to provinces, they go to the provincial National Security Agency and prosecutors’ office first of all. However, the result of my checking these places is that there is no sign that portraits have been handed down yet.”
That being said, the source conceded, “Since the greatness of the Youth Captain is constantly boasted of, and his appearance has also appeared on television, his portrait will probably be released soon,” and as such, “people will accept it as an inevitability.”
Another source from Chongjin, North Hamkyung Province agreed, saying, “I haven’t seen a portrait of the Youth Captain yet. If a portrait is distributed, security agencies get it first, but there is no portrait yet.”
A defector in his 50s from Pyongyang added, though, “I suspect that his portrait will be spread soon, because Kim Jong Eun idolization has been ongoing for the last couple of years and his appearance has even been revealed.”
Furthermore, “There is no chance of delivering the portrait secretly because people are competitive and are apt to start hanging the portraits to keep up with their neighbors” in order to display a sense of loyalty.
Portraits are one of the most significant means by which to show off supreme power, and nowhere more so than in North Korea. Kim Jong Il’s portraits have been in the public domain since 1982, when he was 40 years old, two years after the public announcement of his succession at the 6th Party Congress.
Since the early 1990s when the idolization of Kim Jong Suk, Kim Jong Il’s mother, began, there have been three “Mt. Baekdu generals’” portraits, that is Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Suk, hanging in public and private locations.