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Significant changes in North Korea, say experts

Significant changes may be taking place in North Korea if reports are confirmed that Kim Jong-Il, the nation’s hereditary dictator, is modifying his leadership style, analysts and experts say. Officials, diplomats, and analysts agreed that reports that Kim has ordered curbs to be placed on the cult of personality that has surrounded him for decades needed to be confirmed before conclusions could be drawn. “Nothing has been proven yet. There is no way for us to confirm these things right now. It takes time,” said an official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the Stalinist state. If confirmed, the developments would be regarded as “significant,” he said. North Korea is one of the world’s most secretive nations and events inside the country are notoriously hard to monitor. However, western diplomats living in Pyongyang have reported that portraits of Kim have been disappearing from public buildings in the capital and elsewhere in recent weeks, according to diplomats and reports here. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Wednesday that Kim himself had ordered for the removal of the portraits which hang in homes, offices, and public buildings alongside those of his father Kim Il-Sung, the founder of the communist state who died in 1994. The order was issued three weeks ago because the leader was concerned that he “has been lifted too high,” the agency said, quoting a source who has “good connections” in Pyongyang. Kim’s portraits were being removed from all public places and homes, it said. Based on a telephone conversation with a North Korean official, the source said that now only the portraits of Kim’s father could be seen at public buildings and residences in Pyongyang. Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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