For real? Kim Jong Un’s surprising photo op

Claudine Zap

The leader of North Korea apparently has learned a lesson from Hollywood: Image is everything.

The man known to the Western world as running a country that starves its population and menaces neighboring countries with a nuclear weapons program is a rock star, a photo released by North Korea's Central News Agency would have you believe.

More Lil’ Kim than Kim Jong Un, the picture shows the leader mobbed by workers at a mushroom farm. From the looks of it, the leader is loved by his people.

Dressed in dark shirt and pants, the 29-year-old stands in the middle of a crowd of women wearing immaculate white jumpsuits, with some grabbing his arms and others who appear to be weeping. A female soldier stands beside Kim, holding his other arm protectively in a failed attempt to shield him from the adoring onslaught.

Is it staged? Reuters, which distributed the photo, notes that it is unable to “independently verify the authenticity, content, location, or date of this image.”