Whatever one thinks about the likelihood of reform in North Korea, the theatrical aspect of politics has changed. From the pop concerts with Disney characters to the roller-coaster ride, it is clear that this is not your grandfather’s North Korea.
Certain stylistic parallels are reminiscent of an earlier period of American politics. We too had a young leader with an elegant wife whose fashion moves were tracked intensely.
This is not to say that there are profound substantive similarities between John F. Kennedy and Kim Jong-un; to paraphrase the late Lloyd Bentsen, my guess is that they are far apart in the objectives that they chose for their respective countries. To point out one obvious dissimilarity Jack Kennedy commanded a patrol boat that was sunk; Kim Jong-un allegedly commanded the sinking of a patrol boat. Nevertheless, just as the Kennedy presidency injected into American society a new sense of hope and optimism, one has to expect the advent of Kim Jong-un’s leadership is provoking similar excitement among at least some in North Korea.