Archive | October, 2010

Who’s Afraid of Ko Yong Hui?

21 Oct

Ko Yong Hui


A 1975 DPRK postage stamp depicting Kim Jong Suk

Despite all of the DPRK’s activity around the hereditary succession of Kim Jong Un, missing from the narratives and rumors is any word of Ko Yong Hui.  Ko was KJI’s 4th wife and the mother of three of his children.  She died in 2004.  Dong-a Ilbo reports on the missing maternal link:

Baek Seung-joo, director of the North Korean Military Research Division of the Center for Security and Strategy under the (South) Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, cited the large-scale idolization campaign that began in 1974, when Kim Jong Il was officially named to succeed his father Kim Il Sung.

Baek said the 1974 campaign is in stark contrast to the silence over Kim Jong Un’s late mother Koh Young-hee, who died in 2004.

After his appointment as his father’s successor, Kim Jong Il began an idolization campaign for his mother, Kim Jong Suk, to solidify his grip on power. Based on his mother’s participation in guerrilla warfare against Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula, Kim Jong Il called her “the heroine of the anti-Japanese struggle” and “mother of the revolution” and named districts and universities after her.

Though the North Korean leadership has been enthusiastically praising Kim Jong Un since last year, it has not mentioned his mother’s name internally or externally even after he first appeared in public Sept. 28.

Analysts say Pyongyang finds it difficult to idolize Koh because she was Kim Jong Il’s second mistress, unlike his mother who was the first wife of Kim Il Sung. Others downplay this theory, however, saying Koh could be idolized as Kim Jong Il’s legitimate wife because his official wife, Kim Young Sook, failed to give him a son, while Song Hye Rim, the mother of his eldest son Kim Jong Nam, was only a mistress.

Speculation also has it that the heir apparent’s mother was not Koh but Kim Ok, the North Korean leader’s third mistress. Critics say this is a far-fetched argument, however, because Koh is confirmed to have reared the leader’s second son, Kim Jong Chol, as Kim Jong Un’s blood brother.

Ko called Jong Un “the little [Morningstar] general.”  From 2002 to 2006 a series of articles and essays (including the occasional political piece) appeared in the DPRK press under the by-line Ko Yong Hui.  There were also rumors that the MPAF General Political Department conducted a political education and veneration campaign for Ko.  These efforts were likely connected to establishing the conditioning around a 3rd generation hereditary succession of Jong Un’s older brother, Kim Jong Chol.  The publicity campaign gradually desisted due to Ko’s death, personnel changes in the central party in 2007 and Kim Jong Chol’s lack of interest in politics.

One rumor about the hereditary succession’s publicity is the regime’s emphasis on KJU’s ties to Wonsan, which a Japanese academic expert suggested could be the means for integrating Ko Yong Hui (who was born in Osaka) into the Jong Un narrative.

Jong Un’s Publicity Campaign

21 Oct

The DPRK is reportedly stepping up its publicity campaign in support of the hereditary succession of Kim Jong Un.  Previous reports about Jong Un propaganda efforts claimed that several million official portraits were produced for distribution to DPRK citizens.  In January of this year, events were held to celebrate Kim Jong Un’s official 8 January birthday.  There have also been reports that a Jong Un historic site was under construction, along with a railway line extension, in Kangdong County, Pyongyang.

Korea Times citing Open Radio for North Korea reports that a permanent museum exhibition about Kim Jong Un was completed in Pyongyang.

The Open Radio for North Korea, a Seoul-based broadcaster, reported Tuesday that the Joseon Revolutionary Museum in Pyongyang opened up a brand new permanent exhibition on Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s third son, in a move to build up a personality cult as a leader.

Quoting an anonymous source from North Korea, the radio said the “Kim Jong-un Room” filled with photos of him in uniform and other items was opened in July, and top party and military officials visited there.

“It will probably open to the public next year around his birthday which is Jan. 8,” the source was quoted as saying.

Kim Jong Un attending a commemorative photo session at Kumsusan in September 2010 (Photo: KCNA)

Chosun Ilbo citing RFA reports about a television documentary extolling Kim Jong Un’s intellectual and management abilities, aired as part of celebrations for the 65th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party.  Another anecdote concerns the distribution by the Union of Agricultural Workers of Korea of a  publication on Jong Un’s agricultural abilities.  Jong Un has been observed as a member of KJI retinue throughout 2009.

“According to the program, Kim Jong-un is a genius with a thorough knowledge of politics, the economy, culture, history and military affairs and is able to speak many foreign languages,” the source said. It said he mastered English, German, French and Italian during his studies abroad and is learning Chinese, Japanese and Russian despite his busy schedule helping his father lead the country.”

The broadcast also claimed North Korea became a “self-sufficient” nuclear power because of Kim Jong-un’s firm resolve to build up the North’s ability to counter other nuclear powers with equal strength. According to the broadcast, Kim realized the importance of nuclear weapons when he learned about the wars launched by the U.S. and its “imperialist allies.”

Another source from North Hamgyong Province said the federation of farmers passed out material praising Kim Jong-un’s skills and urging farmers to create a new agricultural revolution under his guidance. “The material described an inspection trip by Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un to an agricultural commune in 2008, where the younger Kim surprised experts by spontaneously coming up with a microbial fertilizer that could improve the quality of soil,” the source said, and claimed farmers who used it were able to “miraculously” harvest 15 tons of wheat per 9,917 sq. m of farmland.

Another Hwang Plot

21 Oct

ROK authorities have arrested another man accused of posing as a defector to gain entry into ROK to assassinate Hwang Jang Yop.  Hwang was the most senior DPRK official to defect to the ROK.  He passed away due to natural causes on or around 9 October.

The New York Times reports:

The man accused of seeking to assassinate Mr. Hwang, Ri Dong-sam, 46, was described as an agent with North Korea’s premier intelligence organization, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, who had begun five years of espionage training in 1998.

Some reports said he crossed the border into China in 2004, even as other assassins and hit squads were infiltrating the South. He reportedly spent five years in China before getting the order to kill Mr. Hwang. He made his way in December 2009 to either Thailand or Laos.

In May, he was apparently preparing to enter South Korea when two other fake defectors hunting Mr. Hwang were arrested in Seoul. The two, majors in the North Korean Army, were convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison in July.

Mr. Ri, the reports said, postponed his arrival in South Korea until August. Like all those who identify themselves as defectors from the North, he was sequestered and questioned by South Korean intelligence agents.

He reportedly admitted that he had been an agent with North Korean intelligence’s notorious Office 35 — tasked with abduction and assassination — but said that he had fled after being accused of corruption. But investigators said they became suspicious when he gave confusing answers about his hometown.

It was not clear, however, whether they held him in custody until he was charged late Tuesday.

PRC Defense Minister Meets with MPAF Delegation

19 Oct

Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie (1st R) talks with Pyon In Son (1st L), vice minister of the People's Armed Forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 14, 2010. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

The PRC Defense Minister and The PRC Vice Chief of the PLA General Staff met with a KPA delegation in Beijing on 14 October.  The KPA delegation was lead by Colonel-General Pyon In Son, who is serving as a Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces (MPAF).  Colonel General Pyon is part of the 2nd/3rd generation of DPRK military leadership.  For a number of years, he served as commnader of the VII Army Corps.

Jiefangjun Bao reports:

Ma Xiaotian said that the Chinese and DPRK militaries supported and helped each other in the cause of struggling for national independence and liberation and safeguarding and building socialism, having forged a profound friendship. The China-DPRK traditional friendship has withstood the test of volatile international situation and shown strong vitality. The Chinese side is willing to work together with the DPRK side to open a new page of the friendly ties between the two countries and the two militaries and make contributions to maintaining regional and world peace and stability and promoting common prosperity.

Pyon In Son said that to carry forward and develop the DPRK-China friendship is an unswerving guideline of the DPRK side. The Korean People’s Army attaches great importance to developing friendly ties with the Chinese military. He hoped that the two sides could further strengthen exchanges and co-operation in future to boost the development of the relations between the two countries and the two militaries.

19 October 1950

19 Oct

(Photo: Yonhap)

On 19 Octber 1950 UN forces, including the US Army’s 5th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division and the ROK’s 1st and 7th Divisions, entered Pyongyang.  On 11 October 1950, the 5th Cavalry’s Lt. Samuel S. Coursen had led a team to destroy a roadblock hindering UN forces’ advance into the DPRK capital.

The 5th Cavalry Regiment enters Pyongyang on 19 October 1950 (Photo: Korean War Documentary)

Then LTC Edgar J. Treacy, commander 3-5 CAV, and newly commissioned 2LT Wallace E. "Nellie" Nelson, I Company 3-5 CAV, in front of a school used for billeting. LTC Treacy was captured at Chipyong-ni on 15 February, 1951 and died while a Prisoner of War. (Photo: James K. Hughes &

PRC to Send Kim Jong Suk Statue to DPRK

18 Oct

Kim Jong Suk (Photo: KCNA)

The China Waxwork Museum for Great Figures has agreed to construct a life-sized wax effigy of Kim Jong Suk.  Kim Jong Suk was Kim Il Sung’s first wife and the mother of Kim Jong Il and Kim Kyong Hui (a middle brother drowned in Pyongyang during the summer of 1947).  Korea Times (citing a report by Dong-a Ilbo) reports that Kim Jong Il proffered his request to the PRC during his August 2010 trip to Northeastern China.  The PRC agreed and the Kim Jong Suk statue will be sent, with a delegation, to Pyongyang in December.

China plans to send North Korea a life-size statue of Kim Jong-il’s biological mother as a gift, a local newspaper said, citing a North Korean document.

The waxwork statue of Kim Jong-sook, reportedly proposed by Kim Jong-il and accepted by China, will be shipped to the North in early December, Dong-a Ilbo said Saturday.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the marriage between Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, and Kim Jong-sook.

The project will be carried out by the China Waxwork Museum for Great Figures, which in the past also built famous Chinese individuals such as Mao Zedong and Jiang Zemin, the report said.

The North Korean Embassy in Beijing thanked the museum for carrying out the task which will “further enhance ties between the peoples of the two countries,” the report said, citing a North Korean embassy document dated July 15, which it obtained.

The newspaper didn’t say how it obtained the document.

In May of this year bronze statues of KJI, KIS, KJS were unveiled at the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces in a ceremony presided over by the Chief of the KPA General Staff and the Senior Deputy Director of the MPAF GPD.

DPRK Expresses Pledge to Rejoin Six Party Talks

18 Oct

The DPRK has expressed its willingness to return to the Six Party Talks.  The country made the announcement following a trip to Beijing last week by DPRK Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kim Kye Gwan.  Yonhap:

In the KCNA report, the North’s foreign ministry spokesman said Pyongyang “remains unchanged in its will to implement the September 19 joint statement adopted at the six-party talks for denuclearizing the whole Korean Peninsula.”

The spokesman was referring to a landmark 2005 deal under which North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear program in return for economic aid and security guarantees.

The six-party talks were one of the major topics in talks between North Korean First Vice President Kim Kye-gwan and Chinese officials in Beijing this week, China’s foreign ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site.

The Chinese statement urged other dialogue countries to “work together through contact and dialogue to further relax the situation and create conditions and atmosphere for the resumption of the six-party talks.”


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