A series of extravagant oil paintings of Kim Jong-un have been unveiled after a ban on painting North Korea’s authoritarian leader was lifted.
The artwork depicts Kim greeting children and agricultural workers as a benevolent ruler as well as emphasising his military prowess and gazing out from Mount Paektu, the North’s highest peak and central to the mythology of the Kim family dynasty.
A symbolic white horse – long used in state propaganda to boost leader Kim’s prestige as “supreme leader” – also features prominently.
The paintings, which cement Kim’s “cult of personality”, debuted this week as part of the North’s celebrations of the end of the 1950-53 war with the South.
Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of the signing of an armistice that ended the conflict, although a peace treaty was never signed and the two Koreas are technically still at war.
While the South marked the occasion with sombre remembrance of the fallen, the North took a more triumphalist approach to the event it calls “Victory Day”, staging a mass military parade through the centre of Pyongyang.
Goose-stepping troops marched alongside the regime’s largest nuclear weapons and new drone technology while Kim, flanked by a senior Chinese politician on one side and the Russian defence minister, aimed to project an image of statesmanship to his public despite ongoing domestic woes.
The art exhibition appeared to demonstrate a shift in the propaganda policy surrounding Kim, displaying his image in a more central position than pictures of his father Kim Jong-Il and grandfather Kim Il-Sung, who are publicly revered as deities in the impoverished nation.
The change in tradition signalled a possible move towards more direct worship of Kim, now in power for more than a decade.
He was reported to have also commissioned three mosaic murals of himself for public display.
Hundreds attended the unveiling of the paintings, state media reported.
Previously, artists were banned from painting depictions of Kim and while North Koreans are required to bow before public statues of his ancestors, there are no known monuments of the young leader.
The latest exhibit displays small paintings of Kim’s predecessors placing him at the heart of the family dynasty.
The pieces were intended to remind visitors of the “tradition of war victory” of Kim Jong-Il and of his “illustrious commander” son, said KCNA Watch, which aggregates state media reports.
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