As of now, the rest of the world does not know enough to predict where North Korea will head under new leader Kim Jong-un, although there are signs that he is interested in doing things his own way. He likes to attract global attention, or at least that’s one way to read the successful rocket launch in December (officially, it sent up a weather satellite, but arguably it was a test of long-range missile capability). The opening of the AP bureau in Pyongyang was a big policy shift. And in July, Kim began making public appearances with his wife, an attractive woman with short hair (his father and grandfather always hid their spouses from the limelight). Will such openness lead to more fundamental changes? We simply do not know. What we do know is that Kim Jong-un isn’t exactly Daily Show material the way his dad was. It does seem safe to say that for reporters heading to North Korea these days, at least, it no longer amounts to going down a rabbit hole.

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Soomin Seo is a doctoral student at Columbia Journalism School. From 2000 to 2008, she was a staff reporter for the Hankyoreh and the Korea Times in South Korea.