What does Kim Jong-un actually sound like?

(Originally posted at Yahoo News)

He’s considered one of the most unstable leaders in the world and regularly issues war-mongering threats to the US, so it’s strange that most people can’t put a voice to Kim Jong Un’s words.

Because while Kim doesn’t seem hesitant with his threats, it’s rare that we actually hear him speak.

Search Google for Kim Jong-un, and one of the first queries you’ll see is ‘What does Kim Jong-un sound like?’

Whether it’s due to the language barrier or the fact that most of Kim’s words are overlapped with a translator, it’s difficult to find examples of him speaking.

This shortage may seem unusual for someone who is confident enough to threaten to blow up the world every so often, and some experts have said his reticence is due to claims he has a high-pitched voice.

Although footage of Kim speaking is rare, it’s not non-existent. Below is one of the few recordings of the dictator speaking live, taken at the annual Meeting of Children in 2012.

(Kim starts speaking at 2:57)

And here he is a few years later in 2014, giving a New Year’s Eve speech.

So what – if anything – does his voice say about his character?

According to public speaking coach Susan Heaton Wright, Kim doesn’t actually sound like a ‘dictator’ .

‘He obviously has no problems talking to crowds,’ she tells Yahoo News UK. ‘He sounds relaxed, like he is confident in the messages he’s passing on.

‘I don’t believe he sounds frightened, and he doesn’t sound like a dictator.’

‘You can tell a lot about how confident or emotional someone is by how deep their voice goes.’ Susan says, ‘this is why some people regard high-pitched females as not being as confident.

‘If you’re scared, your voice goes higher. A great example of this is George Osborne. When he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and had to announce the bad news you could hear his voice rising in pitch each time.’

One thing we can all note from Kim’s voice is that it’s clear and consistent throughout, suggesting he either really strongly believes what he’s saying, or he’s got an excellent voice coach.

But maybe, suggests Lizz Summers, a Voice & Presentation Skills Coach, we can tell more about Kim’s character from his body language.

This was especially unusual during his speech at the Seventh Congress of the WPK. (Skip to 2:20 to hear Kim speak)

‘It’s very interesting to me that in the Congress of Workers and Children’s centre addresses, Kim Jong-un sways while he is speaking,’ she tells Yahoo News UK. ‘He’s constantly moving his weight from one leg to the other.

‘In the CoW address, he places his fingers lightly on the desk as if to steady himself, though the desk appears a little too low to comfortably serve that purpose.’

‘In the West, we are used to our politicians holding the lecterns very securely, either with both hands, or with one hand while using the other to make a particular gesture, like Donald Trump’s “ok” finger position, usually while he repeatedly uses the word “terrific”.’

Lizz also picks up on Kim’s lack of eye contact – a body language feature we associate with trustworthiness and honesty.

‘In Western politics, we typically place a high value on individuals being dynamic, passionate, charismatic, interesting, engaging to listen to, etc.’ she said.

‘Our politicians present speeches which are highly emotive, impassioned and stirring, using a combination of their words and, in particular, their delivery.

‘For example, they make prolonged eye contact with areas of the audience, lean into
the lectern, emphasise certain words using gestures, hold the attention of the room using
strategic pauses, and so on.’

Photo: (stephan)

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