North Korean leader Kim Jong-un assumed his position just over a year ago, following his father's death in late 2011. Under his direction, North Korea has taken some aggressive steps, including launching a rocket despite international condemnation and cracking down even harder on those attempting to flee the country. At the same time, Kim has given a few public indications that the country's "military-first" economy needs to change. And just yesterday, during a New Year's address, he said that "removing confrontation" between North and South Korea was an important step toward reunification. The two nations are still officially at war, having never signed a peace treaty following the end of the Korean War 60 years ago. As South Korea's new president-elect prepares to take office, Kim continues to send mixed messages to the world, declaring 2013 a year of "radical turnabout." The photos of North Korea gathered here were taken recently either by official photographers, or by western photographers under government supervision, their subjects and movement restricted.
North Koreans play with a balloon as they wait outside Pyongyang stadium for the countdown to the new year on Monday, December 31, 2012. North Koreans celebrated the arrival of the new year, marked as "Juche 102" on North Korean calendars. "Juche" means "self reliance," the North Korean ideology of independence promoted by North Korean founder Kim Il Sung, and modern-day North Korean calendars start with the year of his birth in 1912.
(AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un smokes a cigarette at the General Satellite Control and Command Center after the launch of the Unha-3 (Milky Way 3) rocket carrying the second version of Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite at West Sea Satellite Launch Site in Cholsan county, on December 12, 2012, in this picture released by the North's KCNA news agency in Pyongyang December 13, 2012.
This picture taken by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on December 12, 2012 shows North Korean rocket Unha-3, carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, lifting off from the launching pad in Cholsan county. North Korea's leader has ordered more satellite launches, state media said on December 14, 2012, two days after Pyongyang's long-range rocket launch triggered global outrage and UN condemnation.
North Korean farmer O Yong Ae sits at her home during an interview at the Migok Cooperative farm in Sariwon, North Hwanghae Province, North Korea, on September 23, 2012. Farmers would be able to keep a bigger share of their crops under proposed changes aiming to boost production by North Korea's collective farms, which have chronically struggled to provide enough food for the country's 24 million people. Current rules require them to turn everything over to the state beyond what farmers can keep to feed their families.
(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
North Korean waitresses prepare to serve beer at the Mansugyo Soft Drink restaurant in Pyongyang, on December 20, 2012. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the reconstruction of the restaurant that stood for decades along the Taedong river. The restaurant specializes in seven flavors of beer, cocktails, coffee and snack food.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
South Korean Army soldiers patrol along the barbed-wire fence at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Cheorwon, north of Seoul, South Korea, on December 20, 2012. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called for the development of more powerful rockets after last week's successful launch of a satellite into space.
(AP Photo/Yonhap, Lee Hae-Yong)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and his wife Ri Sol-Ju attend the opening ceremony of the Rungna People's Pleasure Ground on Rungna Islet along the Taedong River in Pyongyang in this July 25, 2012 photograph. The Rungna People's Pleasure Ground has attractions such as a dolphinarium, a wading pool, a fun fair and a mini golf course, according to KCNA.
North Korean workers arrange model tanks with the North Korean People's Army flags in a parade formation in front of a replica of the Grand People's Study House at the Pyongyang Folk Park, on November 18, 2012. The park, which spans Korean history from prehistoric to modern times, opened in September, 2012 after three years of construction by the North Korean soldiers.
(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
North Korean defectors bow to respect for their ancestors in North Korea to celebrate the Chuseok, the Korean version of Thanksgiving Day, in front of the barbed wire fence at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, on September 30, 2012.
(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)