The Inspector in Chief

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Say what you want about Kim Jong Un -- the man is good at inspecting things. After taking power following the death of his father in December 2011, Kim has taken a page out of dad and granddad's book and had himself photographed across the country looking, watching, and guiding his people forward in a propaganda campaign that appears designed to show the competence of the young leader. But as Ken Gause argues, there may be a method to Kim's seeming madness: He's trying to show that economic growth and development, not the country's military, is his top priority.

This photo, released in January 2012, shows Kim inspecting the future site for the Pyongyang Folk Park.

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In this photo, released in January, Kim inspects Unit 671 of the Korean People's Army. On Sunday, July 15, Kim sacked the powerful Vice-Marshal  Ri Yong Ho; two days later has was appointed marshal in a move many North Korean analysts think is Kim's way of asserting his control over the military.


The military is one of the most powerful institutions in North Korea; here Kim is photographed applauding next to high-ranking officials in April.


Kim has emphasized his linkage with his beloved grandfather Kim Il Sung, who ruled North Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. Here Kim applauds at a military parade at a major ceremony marking the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung.

Like his grandfather and unlike his reclusive father, Kim Jong Un seems to be more of a traditional politician: shaking hands and hobnobbing with constituents, and, in this photo, squeezing the face of a student at Mangyongdae Revolutionary School.


Here he cuts the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the Exhibition of Arms and Equipment of the Korean People's Army in Pyongyang in April.


Wearing what appears to be a Panama hat, Kim visits the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground in this photo released in July.

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In what some North Korea analysts saw as a sign of opening to the world, Kim recently watched a concert that featured Disney characters.  Here Kim Jong Un claps next to an unidentified woman, suspected to be his girlfriend, in July.


Kim has emphasized the importance of improving people's living standards. In this photo released May, he inspects the Mangyongdae Funfair amusement park in Pyongyang. Apparently the Swiss-educated leader didn't like what he saw; North Korean media reported that Kim called one of the rides "pathetic."

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