Kim Jong-un will be celebrating his 33rd birthday this Sunday. Wishes and presents are usually in order on this type of occasion, but it's difficult to see any desire the North Korean dictator hasn't already seen fulfilled in his five years in power.
For starters, the cult of personality has never been bigger in North Korea. As NK News recently reported, Kim's approach when it comes to imposing his image is "quantitative, not qualitative." New statues of the young leader rise on a regular basis in squares around the country, and his "Image of the Sun" portrait has been copied tens of thousands of times. More recently, Kim even seems to have managed to ban Christmas, replacing it with his grandmother's birthday.
His purge among the country's elite seems to be going just fine too, though it's been some time since he last had an official executed by an anti-aircraft gun. Though the economy still suffers from absolute state control and international isolation, Kim has managed to bring ATMs to Pyongyang and North Korean food is finding a niche or two overseas.
But perhaps of most relevance for the rest of the world, is what U.S. intelligence sources call a "qualitative" improvement in North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities. Kim used New Year's Day to boast that his country was preparing a test of its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which could reach the continental United States. To this vow, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted back his resolution: "It won't happen!"
Exclamation points have never meant so much, and so little.
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