Seoul. Diplomats from several countries including Britain accompanied North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on his roller-coaster ride last week, the British embassy in the North’s capital Pyongyang said Friday.
Photographs of the young Kim, smiling broadly as the amusement park ride began, were circulated by state media as part of an apparent campaign to build an image of a relaxed and informal leader.
Official media has also disclosed Kim’s marriage and carried photos of him arm-in-arm with his wife — a marked departure from the secrecy surrounding the private life of his father Kim Jong-il, who died last December.
The embassy confirmed that junior British diplomat Barnaby Jones joined Kim on the ride at Pyongyang’s Rungna amusement park, and said he was one of several diplomats to do so.
“Such events provide an opportunity for us to engage with the senior leadership, supporting our critical engagement policy,” the mission said in an emailed statement.
Britain’s Foreign Office said it was crucial to “actively engage with the North Korean administration, since we work closely with them on a number of humanitarian, cultural and education projects which benefit the people of North Korea.”
In contrast to his late father, who spoke just once at a major public event during his 17 years in power, Kim has cultivated an outgoing style.
He has been seen hugging soldiers, posing for photos with troops and linking arms with women.
Unusually in a nation which officially regards the United States as its arch-enemy, a recent concert attended by Kim featured Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters.
Despite the new style, the regime has vowed no policy changes under Jong-un and continues to threaten South Korea in harsh terms.
It vows never to give up its nuclear arsenal until the United States ends what Pyongyang sees as a hostile policy.