Reading Kim Jong-Il's expression is a difficult and delicate task. I can only imagine the trepidation felt by his officials (perhaps even by his son) as the Dear Leader's gaze turns to some carefully-selected new sight, whether it be a plant, a bottle of soy sauce or a loaf of bread. How will he react? Will he like what he sees?
Restricted as we are to these fleeting glimpses, those of us outside Kim Jong-Il's entourage never really find out the answers to those questions. Perhaps the fact that an image is released at all signifies his approval. I'd like to think that somewhere in Pyongyang, languishing in an official photographer's Granny's sock drawer, there is a memory card filled with the pictures that were never shown to the world: those occasions when Kim Jong-Il saw something he really did not like.
For the definitive collection of photographs in the genre - those that have been released, at least - visit the blog Kim Jong-Il looking at things.