|State TV footage shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presiding over a party meeting, Feb. 8. Yonhap|
By Do Je-hae
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is now using "president" as his official title in English, instead of "chairman" as he has used in the past, according to the North's state media.
The English service of the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) has been using president rather than chairman since Feb. 12 a report about Kim's attendance at a Lunar New Year performance with leading members of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK).
Since then, the KCNA has been referring to him as the "general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and president of the State Affairs of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)." The DPRK is North Korea's official name.
"President Kim" appears in the latest English report about his visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, Wednesday, to mark the birthday of his late father, Kim Jong-il, whose body is displayed there alongside Kim Il-sung's.
The change in his title followed the eighth party congress in January, during which Kim became the general secretary of the WPK.
Experts said that the change of his English title has to do with boosting his image ahead of possible international negotiations, as most state leaders, including Chinese leader Xi Jinping, also use the title "president" in English.
"Kim taking the title of president appears to emphasize his representation and control of the entire North Korean state on top of his already cultivated image as leader of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. North Korea seeks to refute theories that it is desperate under the pandemic's economic conditions. Kim intends to show confidence in domestic governance and strength ahead of any international negotiations," said Leif-Eric Easley, an associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.
The North Korean leader previously used "chairman" of the State Affairs Commission as his title, and "Chairman Kim" has often been used by U.S. officials, such as former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He has also gone by the title "marshal," the highest rank in the Korean People's Army.