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Sunday 4 June 2023 Dublin: 18°C
# North Korea
The new face of North Korea?
Reports and new pictures of the son – and heir apparent – of Kim Jong-Il suggest he may have had plastic surgery to look more like his grandfather, founder of North Korea

THE REGIME IN North Korea is looking for a new leader – but will he come with a new face? South Korean newspapers have been suggesting that Kim Jong-Un, son of current leader Kim Jong-Il and heir apparent to the regime in the North, has had plastic surgery to boost his resemblance to his paternal grandfather.

Official photographs of the 27-year-old were released last week: the first snaps of Kim Jong-Un since he was a young teenager.

The Dong-A Ilbo newspaper in South Korea reported that the Kim dynasty was hoping to present Kim Jong-Il’s youngest son as a “reincarnation of North Korea’s late founder”, his grandfather Kim Il-Sung.

The new pictures

The new face of North Korea?
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  • Kim Jong-Un

    The first pictures of Kim Jong-Il's son and heir released since he was a teenager are being scrutinised by North and South Koreans
  • Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il

    Kim Il-Sung, founder of North Korea and father of the state's current leader, Kim Jong-Il, right
  • North Korea After Kim

    ** FILE ** In this Oct. 28, 2005, file photo released by China's official Xinhua news agnecy, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il shakes hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao before their talks in Pyongyang, North Korea. Peering through the North Korean political mist, lately thickened by Kim Jong Il's reported illness and a resurgent nuclear crisis, analysts have begun looking at the North Korean leader's brother-in-law as part of a possible succession. But if Jang Song Taek were to emerge on top, it would likely be as the head of a collective leadership, rather than as an absolute ruler like Kim Jong Il or his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, experts in Seoul say. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Yao Dawei, File)

reflect his resemblance to his forebears, with the same pouchy cheeks, cleft chin and slightly-downturned mouth common to all three generations of Kims.

Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and author of a number of books on the North Korean leadership, told The Daily Telegraph:

A lot of people in South Korea have pointed out that Kim’s face is very different from when he was young, particularly the shape of his chin. From previous photos, everyone had remarked that he looked nothing like his grandfather, so the change is quite dramatic.

Kim Jong-Un, son of Kim Jong-Il’s third wife, a former dancer who died of breast cancer in 2004, has lived in the shadows for most of his life.
It has been variously reported that he spent the 1990s studying under a false name at a school in Switzerland; reports from Seoul say he has never left North Korea at all.

His sudden plunge into the limelight suggests that Pyongyang is preparing to introduce him as North Korea’s next leader. Kim Jong-Il suffered a stroke in 2008 and is thought to be increasingly frail.