If North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was searching for the perfect propaganda set piece, something designed to show his people that he's a strong leader pushing inexorably for the long-promised prosperity they deserve, then South Korean President Moon Jae-in might be providing him with a unique opportunity during their summit this week, per the AP
. Moon arrived Tuesday for a three-day visit. Throughout the first day, the South Korean leader could be seen grinning broadly as he and Kim enjoyed the ecstatic reception of a Pyongyang that seemed to have been painted, polished, and framed until it was the best possible version of itself—on the video that South Korean media traveling with Moon captured and beamed back to Seoul, at least.
The optics of Moon's visit to Pyongyang are "reminiscent of the Chinese emperor receiving tributary missions—with a pan-Korean ethnic nationalistic twist—the Son of Heaven graciously receiving the barbarian envoy, dazzling the visitor with opulence, grace, and power," according to Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korea expert at Tufts University's Fletcher School. North Korea, Lee said, portrays all visits by foreign heads of state as reflecting on the "manifold virtues of the Great Leader," and that's especially true of "a Pyongyang pilgrimage by the leader of the illegitimate Korean state" to the south. Moon's office downplayed worries that North Korea could use his visit as propaganda, saying the enthusiastic welcome for Moon should be "seen just as it is."