When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

North Korea

Spotlight: Happy Birthday Kim Jong-Un!?

A Kim Jong-un sticker in Washington, D.C.
A Kim Jong-un sticker in Washington, D.C.

Kim Jong-un will be celebrating his 33rd birthday this Sunday. Wishes and presents are usually in order on this type of occasion, but it's difficult to see any desire the North Korean dictator hasn't already seen fulfilled in his five years in power.

For starters, the cult of personality has never been bigger in North Korea. As NK News recently reported, Kim's approach when it comes to imposing his image is "quantitative, not qualitative." New statues of the young leader rise on a regular basis in squares around the country, and his "Image of the Sun" portrait has been copied tens of thousands of times. More recently, Kim even seems to have managed to ban Christmas, replacing it with his grandmother's birthday.

His purge among the country's elite seems to be going just fine too, though it's been some time since he last had an official executed by an anti-aircraft gun. Though the economy still suffers from absolute state control and international isolation, Kim has managed to bring ATMs to Pyongyang and North Korean food is finding a niche or two overseas.

But perhaps of most relevance for the rest of the world, is what U.S. intelligence sources call a "qualitative" improvement in North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities. Kim used New Year's Day to boast that his country was preparing a test of its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which could reach the continental United States. To this vow, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted back his resolution: "It won't happen!"

Exclamation points have never meant so much, and so little.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Hungary’s Russia Energy Veto, Palestine Flare-Up, Asteroid Close Shave

Mourners carry the body of one of the nine Palestinians who were killed by Israeli troops on Thursday, during a raid in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat and Laure Gautherin

👋 Azul!*

Welcome to Friday, where Viktor Orbán says Hungary will veto any European sanctions aimed at Russian nuclear energy, violence erupts in the West Bank a day after nine Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops, and phew, a minibus-sized asteroid brushes past the Earth. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based digital media The Initium looks at how China’s poor management and distribution of COVID-19 medication have led people to turn to generic drugs of questionable safety.

[*Tarifit, Northern Morocco]

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest