A series of old photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was recently released in an effort to give a different glimpse of the tyrant in his younger years. The photos were obtained by several news organizations after the country’s state media ran a documentary featuring the life of Kim’s late mentor Hyon Chol Hae. The images that emerged showed the young dictator in his teens with both his late father Kim Jong Il and his younger sister Kim Yo-jong.

According to The Sun, some parts of the documentary focused on Kim who ordered and instructed doctors on how to treat his mentor’s heart disease, despite the leader having no expertise or background in medicine. 

The photos of a baby-faced Kim are a rare glimpse into his adolescent years before the world came to know him as a nuke-obsessed tyrant. This is the first time such pictures of his younger self have been seen by the public. South Korean intelligence sources said much speculation on the film is geared towards intentions to “encourage North Koreans to emulate Hyon”.

Kim’s late mentor was an absolute loyalist to his father and played a key role in backing Kim as the sole successor in leading the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. He was said to have been groomed as the country’s next leader before Kim Jong Il died in 2011.

Hyon Chol Hae died last month and was honored with one of the largest state funerals ever held in the country. Kim attended the funeral and despite the worrying surge of Covid-19 cases sweeping across the country, a huge crowd of mourners gathered to attend the funeral as he was laid to rest at the Patriotic Martyrs Cemetery in Sinmi-ri, Pyongyang. His funeral was organized by a committee made up of 184 members.  

A maskless Kim carried his mentor’s coffin with his top officials, after which they tossed earth into Hyon’s grave in a final farewell. Hyon was 87 when he died and his death was reportedly related to the coronavirus. Kim addressed the nation citing how Hyon had remained to be one of his closest political and military aides. He lauded Hyon adding how the Party Central Committee strongly stood for his ideas. 

kim jong un North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a welcoming dinner on Sept. 18, 2018 in Pyongyang, North Korea. Getty Images/Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool