Photo/IllutrationNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a May 26 meeting at Panmunjon with South Korean President Moon Jae-in (South Korea Presidential Blue House)

SEOUL--Video footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un venting tears of frustration over the slow pace of economic reform in his backward country is making the rounds of the corridors of power in Pyongyang.

This side of the man, considered by many in the West as a despot, could be viewed as an attempt to portray the "Dear Leader" in a more flattering light as North Korea continues to signal its readiness to open up more to the outside world through a dramatic change in its foreign policy.

As the third-generation member to lead North Korea with an iron grip, Kim Jong Un, like his father and grandfather before him, is revered as a god-like figure.

According to a defector to South Korea who once served North Korea's ruling Workers' Party of Korea, this different and rarely seen side of Kim Jong Un featured in a documentary to educate party officials who lead the lowest rungs of the leadership apparatus or state-run enterprises.

The video shows Kim Jong Un standing on an unspecified stretch of coastline gazing toward the horizon as tears trickle down his cheek.

A narrator explains that the North Korean leader is distraught over his inability to radically overhaul the economy to make the reclusive country a vibrant power.

The defector learned about the video from a contact who remains in North Korea.

According to the defector, the video surfaced from around April and was shown to those in high-ranking positions at local branches of the Workers' Party or state-run companies.

Portraying the North Korean leader in a moment of weakness may well have been a sly propaganda ploy to convince subordinates to work much harder so as not to reduce him to tears.

Given the tepid results from economic initiatives to date, the defector said the video was also probably intended to drive home the point that "party officials had no choice but to obey Kim Jong Un" as North Korea dangles the prospect of abandoning its military provocations in return for extensive economic assistance and safeguards for its security.

The defector speculated the video was also intended to convince the rank and file to accept the anticipated fruits of on-off summit talks tentatively set for June 12 between Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore.

Until now, North Korea's state media have repeatedly referred to the country's nuclear and missile arsenal as "the sword to protect the North Korean people."

But, with preliminary negotiations between North Korea and the United States focusing on Pyongyang renouncing its nuclear program, any announcement of such an agreement with Washington would represent a fundamental turnaround in North Korea's foreign policy.

Seen in this light, the video may be an attempt to downplay any sense of alarm triggered by a sudden shift in policy. Elite party officials living and working in Pyongyang have strong vested interests in showing their fealty to Kim Jong Un, but the same may not apply to the lower ranks.

North Korea is clearly desperate for the summit talks to go ahead, given its sharp reaction to Trump's abrupt cancellation of the June 12 session.

U.S. officials met with their North Korean counterparts to pave the way for the summit after Pyongyang signaled it was open to greater dialogue. The switch to dialogue took place before the video was taken, likely in March.

Between late March and early April, Mike Pompeo, then head of the CIA, secretly visited North Korea for talks with Kim Jong Un, in which the North Korean leader reportedly said his nation was prepared to abandon its nuclear weapons.

As that position has not yet filtered down to the masses, who clearly embrace the notion of an all-powerful North Korea in the face of evil adversary the United States, the video may be intended to prepare the nation for the day that will mark a sea change in the country's fundamental outlook and way of dealing with the rest of the world.