CRACKPOT dictator Kim Jung-un has released rare portraits of himself and his top officials — including one thought to have been executed months ago.
The seemingly unedited image shows the ruthless despot grinning in an official portrait for the first time.
North Korea expert at Seoul National University Chang Yong Seok said the pictures might be an attempt by the authoritarian regime to re-brand itself as a "normal" nation.
Pictures released of the dictator usually show signs of retouching — although officials always deny altering the images.
But in the candid pictures, pores on the leader's skin, which are often airbrushed out, are clearly visible along with blemishes and a few grey hairs.
Analyst Cho Han-bum, of the Seoul-based Korea Institute for National Unification, said North Korea may want to portray Jong-un as "humble yet confident".
One of those pictured is military officer Ri Yong Gil who was executed months ago according to South Korean intelligence.
Kim has a history of executing military figures, with four star general Pyon In Son reportedly killed in mid 2015 for expressing a different opinion to the tubby tyrant.
Hyon Yong Chol, a top advisor to the dictator’s regime, was reportedly eviscerated by an anti-aircraft gun in front of hundreds of onlookers for falling asleep in a meeting.
The despot is also believed to have ordered the execution of a turtle farmer for incompetence.
In the latest pictures, Kim is the only one of the 28 officials pictured smiling — while 20 government officials are shown in suits and seven are in military uniform.
All are wearing a lapel pin bearing the face of Kim Jun-un's grandfather and national founder Kim Il-Sung as well as his father, Kim Jong-Il.
The pictures come as North Korea faces a backlash from world leaders for inviting the world's media to attend a meeting of the Worker's Party Congress before shutting them out.
BBC journalist Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was detained in Pyongyang after upsetting Korean authorities when he reportedly noted there was a lack of any visibly sick children on a tour of a children’s hospital ward.
He has since been released from custody and is safely back in Beijing.