11 Photos Of Kim Jong Un That Suggest He's Becoming Less Secretive & Getting Out More

by Angela Chen
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For the man who has long kept his hermit kingdom cut off from the rest of the world, 2018 seems to be the year that he's breaking out of his shell. Photos showing Kim Jong Un engaged in smiling diplomacy are a fairly recent development; the supreme leader is as involved in international relations as he's ever been since he took over his father's mantle. If the smiles he's been willing to put out for the cameras is a sign of things to come, then thawed tensions could just be the beginning.

What the public can actually confirm about North Korea's supreme leader could barely fill out a sticky note. Kim's upbringing, his birthdate, his hobbies, and how many kids he has are all somewhat of a mystery. Then there's the darker side — there have been numerous reports and studies into the country's human rights abuses as well as startling interviews with escaped defectors.

For what little the world knows about Kim though, people can still learn a lot from his photo opps. Nearly all of the most recent photos have featured a grinning Kim, usually clad in a black Mao uniform, at the forefront of international news for most of 2018. The militarized country might be secretive, but the outside world does get at least a few opportunities here and there to see Kim.

Kim and Rodman, BFFs?

Kim and former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman struck up an unexpected friendship in 2013 when Rodman was invited to visit with the Harlem Globetrotters. Rodman has since gone back several more times and said he was a "friend for life" to Kim. Rodman, who exercises what he calls "basketball diplomacy," is in Singapore for the summit to assist in case the president needs him.

North Korea's First Lady

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Kim is believed to have married his wife Ri Sol Ju in 2009. There is speculation that the couple has three children, but the North Korean government has never confirmed it.

A Diplomatic Handshake Seen 'Round The World

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Well, it can't be smiles all the time. The White House released photos of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shaking hands with Kim in April, per CNBC.

The North Meets The South

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A hug of historical proportions. Kim brings it in with South Korea's president, Moon Jae In after an inter-Korean summit in April 2018.

A Chat Outdoors

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Kim is sitting with Moon for a serious chat at a bench next to the military demarcation line DMZ at Panmunjom, according to Strait Times.

Down The Red Carpet

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Kim steps off an Air China 747 at Changi Airport into Singapore for the summit with President Trump, according to Singapore's Straits Times. During his time on the island, the North Korean leader is expected to stay at the St. Regis hotel.

But First ...

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Supreme leaders take selfies too. Here, Kim is taking a selfie with Singapore's foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan. Balakrishnan is involved in the U.S.-North Korea summit, and his duties include taking Kim on a tour of Singapore's most famous attractions.

All Smiles Ahead Of The Summit

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Hours after arriving on Sunday, Kim met with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong ahead of the summit with President Trump. "The entire world is focusing on the historic summit between the DPRK and the U.S., and thanks to your sincere efforts ... we were able to complete the preparations for the historic summit, and I would like to thank you for that," Kim told Lee through an interpreter, according to CNBC.

More Smiles With The PM

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Kim shaking hands with Singapore Prime Minister Loong.

Entourage Out & About

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Here, Kim is leaving the Marina Bay Sands for a city tour of Singapore on Monday.

A Warm Beginning to A Historic Summit

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Kim and Trump shake hands while greeting each other ahead of the summit. The two started with positive comments and encouraging overtones as meetings began.

2018 has been an unprecedented year, as Kim came together with South Korea's president and now, President Trump to work toward denuclearization and more harmonious relations. All eyes will be on whether two of the most temperamental world leaders can work together at this historic summit, which got off to a hopeful and friendly start.