Still in the Picture

Official portraits of North Korea's ruler, Kim Jong Il, and his late father, Kim Il Sung, are considered so sacred that a North Korean caught in a fire is expected to save them before his own children. So experts on the secretive state were puzzled by reports last week that portraits of the younger Kim had been disappearing from public buildings. A Tokyo-based news agency that monitors North Korean media also reported that the national wire service had dropped the usual Dear Leader honorific it used to refer to Kim. Were these signs that his absolute power was...

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