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. . .And Exit of Kim Chang Son?

1 Jan
Kim Chang Son (R), with Kim Jong Un, at the 6th session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly in September 2012 (Photo: KCNA).

Kim Chang Son (R), with Kim Jong Un, at the 6th session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly in September 2012 (Photo: KCNA).

Kim Chang Son (annotated) assists Kim Jong Un's examination of first aid equipment during KJU's field inspection of KPA Unit #842 in February 2012 (Photo: KCTV screengrab/NKLW file photo).

Kim Chang Son assists Kim Jong Un’s examination of first aid equipment during KJU’s field inspection of KPA Unit #842 in February 2012 (Photo: KCTV screengrab/NKLW file photo).

The removal from office and execution of Jang Song Taek (Chang So’n-t’aek) and with his close associates, may have resulted in the dismissal of the head of Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) executive office.  Kim Chang Son was the director of the NDC Secretariat where he served as KJU’s chief aide and a key gatekeeper.  He has not been observed in state media since late November 2013.  Kim had strong political ties to Jang.  He also had a personal friendship with Jang and his wife Kim Kyong Hui (Kim Kyo’ng-hu’i) since the 1970s.

Kim Chang Son, also a Korean People’s Army Lieutenant General and Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the Korean Workers’ Party Organization Guidance Department, was regularly seen in DPRK state media attending to and assisting Kim Jong Un at his on-site visits and inspections, although his appearances were not publicized in state media.  Kim Chang Son had his most prominent rule (and would be familiar to country watchers) at major national events such as anniversary meetings and sessions of the Supreme People’s Assembly where he could be observed ushering KJU to the platform (rostrum) and ensuring the leader had the meeting’s agenda and script.  Kim could also be observed on the sidelines, but close to KJU, during visits to Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.  However, Kim Chang Son has not been observed at any of the anniversary events attended by Kim Jong Un during December 2013.  It is not clear if Kim Chang Son has been formally dismissed as part of the ongoing purge of what Kim Jong Un described on 1 January 2014 as “factionalism filth” or if he has merely assumed a less public role because of his ties to Jang.

Kim Chang Son (orange arrow) and Jang Song Taek (red arrow) poses for a commemorative photo with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il on 24 December 1991, hours after KJI was elected KPA Supreme Commander.

Kim Chang Son (orange arrow) and Jang Song Taek (red arrow) pose for a commemorative photo with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il on 24 December 1991, hours after KJI was elected KPA Supreme Commander.

Kim Chang Son attends a visit by Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un to actors' apartments in central Pyongyang in October 2010 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Kim Chang Son attends a visit by Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un to actors’ apartments in central Pyongyang in October 2010 (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Kim’s early career was in the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces where he worked on the DPRK’s relations with foreign militaries, including a tour in the 1970s as a deputy defense attaché in Moscow.   In the early 1980s he became one of Kim Jong Il’s close aides.  He served as deputy director and director of the KWP Administration Department (the same position held by Jang at the time of his execution).  Kim Chang Son managed the consolidation of the Administration Department into the KWP Organization Guidance Department [OGD] in 1990 (the department was revived in 2007).  From 1990 to 2002 he served as one of his Kim Jong Il’s closest advisers and confidantes handling both political and personal matters for the late leader.  In 2002 he was the subject of an investigation by DPRK authorities and was removed from office, appointed as a secretary of the Anju City KWP Committee.  Kim’s demotion occurred one year before Jang Song Taek’s three-year disappearance from DPRK public life.  Kim Chang Son was eventually rehabilitated and returned to Kim Jong Il’s Personal Secretariat.  In 2009 he was selected to serve as a close aide to then-successor Kim Jong Un.  During Kim Jong Il’s funeral in December 2011 Kim Chang Son assumed the protocol duties previously performed by Jon Hui Jong (Chon Hu’i-cho’ng).

Kim Chang Son was the son-in-law of DPRK hero Ryu Kyong Su and Ryu’s widow Hwang Sun Hui (Hwang Sun-hu’i), who is a member of the KWP Central Committee and honorary curator of the Museum of the Korean Revolution.  Kim Kyong Hui has a close, almost familial relationship, with Hwang Sun Hui and her family, including Kim Chang Son’s wife.

Kim Jong Un Observes and Guides KPA Company Commanders Shooting Competition

30 Oct
Kim Jong Un (C) speaks during a practical shooting competition of particpants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors.  Also seen in attendance are VMar Choe Ryong Hae (L), Director of the KPA General Political Department, and Gen. Ri Yong Gil (R), Chief of the KPA General Staff (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (C) speaks during a practical shooting competition of particpants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors. Also seen in attendance are VMar Choe Ryong Hae (L), Director of the KPA General Political Department, and Gen. Ri Yong Gil (R), Chief of the KPA General Staff (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 29 October (Tuesday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended and guided a shooting contest of participants in the 4th Meeting of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Company Commanders and Political Instructors.  Also in attendance were VMar Choe Ryong Have (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces) along with other senior KPA officials and commanding officers.  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his attendance at a concert of the Merited State Choir and Moranbong Band.

Upon arrival, Kim Jong Un said that he “was very pleased to meet again the company commanders and political instructors whom he wished to see every day” and he noted “that the KPA is holding the shooting contest unprecedented in the history of army building with all company commanders and political instructors of the whole army attending.”  He also said that “servicepersons cannot satisfactorily fulfill their combat duties when they are not good at shooting even if they are prepared well politico-ideologically and physically” and “that only when company commanders and political instructors become good marksmen, can they train their soldiers to be crack shots never missing targets.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said “this shooting contest was organized to make the torch of the movement for becoming crack shots and master gunners rage more furiously in the whole army.”

View of the leadership platform at a shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of the leadership platform at a shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of attendees and participants in a shooting competition of KPA company commanders and political instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of attendees and participants in a shooting competition of KPA company commanders and political instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of the venue of a practical shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of the venue of a practical shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View from the leadership platform of a practical shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View from the leadership platform of a practical shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

KPA company commanders and political instructors, selected from the national meeting, took part in the contest with “the method of deciding on standing of services of the army, army corps level and that of individuals according to the points they gained by hitting targets in the given distance and within the given time.”  KPA Unit #233 and KPA Unit #604 placed first in the shooting competition, the KPA Navy, KPA Unit #287 and KPA Unit #318 placed second and KPA Unit #549 and KPA Unit #569 placed third.  In individual competitions political instructor Ri Yong Chol of KPA Unit #380, political instructor Kang Un Chol  and company commander Pak In Sok of KPA Unit #604 placed first in individual competitions, company commander Ri Sang Chol of KPA Unit #380 placed second, political instructor Jon Yong Gol of KPA Unit #313, company commander Ri Kwang Hyok of KPA Unit #233, company commander Sung Myong Sim of KPA Unit #549, company commander Kim Kwang Hyon of KPA Unit #593 and company commander Han Ok Ju of KPA Unit #287 placed third.  Prizes were awarded during a post-compeition ceremony.

According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un remarked that “this shooting contest offered the company commanders and political instructors an opportunity to keenly realize that only when they become crack shots themselves, can they train all soldiers to be crack shots and master gunners” and he indicated “tasks to be carried out to intensify shooting drills and ways to do so.”

Kim Jong Un speaks during the shooting competition (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks during the shooting competition (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of leadership platform as Kim Jong Un speaks at practical shooting competition of KPA company commanders and political instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of leadership platform as Kim Jong Un speaks at practical shooting competition of KPA company commanders and political instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks during the shooting competition (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks during the shooting competition (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

KPA Holds Loyalty Rally After Company Commanders Meeting

28 Oct
VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department , speaks at a rally of KPA officers and service members at Ku'msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department , speaks at a rally of KPA officers and service members at Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

The Korean People’s Army [KPA] staged a loyalty rally at Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 28 October (Monday) to “pay high tribute to President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) and thoroughly implement the important tasks set forth by Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) in his historic speech made at the 4th meeting of company commanders and political instructors of the Korean People’s Army.”  Attending the rally were KPA officers and service members, along with VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Col. Gen. Kim Chang Sop (Director of the Ministry of State Security Political Bureau), senior KPA officials and KPA commanding officers.

Rally of KPA officers and service members to honor late leaders Kim Il-so'ng and Kim Cho'ng-il and pledge loyalty to Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

Rally of KPA officers and service members to honor late leaders Kim Il-so’ng and Kim Cho’ng-il and pledge loyalty to Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

VMar Choe Ryong Hae delivered a speech in which, according to KCNA, he “vowed to turn all companies of the KPA into elite combat units devotedly defending the supreme commander” and said that “all service personnel of the KPA are watching with vigilance the reckless moves of the enemies to stifle the DPRK militarily and all companies will go into action at a breath and blow up all the bases for aggression with merciless deadly strikes if the supreme commander issues an order.”  Choe’s remarks were followed by speeches from KPA company commanders and political instructors.  Ham Yong Bong, a company commander, “pledged to train soldiers in simulated conditions of a real war, prepare them to be a-match-for-a-hundred fighters and make his company a tiger company blowing up bases for aggression before any other companies once a fight breaks out.”  KPA Navy political instructor Pak Hyon Su said “that all the sailors would become human torpedoes and send aggressors to the bottom of sea if they intrude into the inviolable territorial waters of the DPRK even a bit.”  KPA Air and anti-Air Command company commander Ri Chol Ho “declared that airmen would keep themselves highly alerted and intensify flight training as required by the prevailing situation and wipe out enemies with Korean style powerful strike means once the supreme commander issues an order.”

4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors Held

27 Oct
Kim Jong Un speaks during the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors held in Pyongyang on 22 and 23 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks during the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors held in Pyongyang on 22 and 23 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The 4th Meeting of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Company Commanders and Political Instructors convened during 22 and 23 October in Pyongyang.  Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended both days of the meeting and delivered three speeches.  Also in attendance were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Gen. Kim Won Hong (Minister of State Security), Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of People’s Security), Col. Gen. Kim Chang Sop (Director of the Ministry of State Security Political Bureau), along with senior KPA officials, KPA commanding officers and KPA company commanders and political instructors.

In his opening speech to the meeting, Kim Jong Un said that “when all the participants strengthen companies, cell and basic combat unit of the People’s Army, to repay the party’s trust and expectation, the might of the powerful revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu will be highly displayed, and expressed the conviction that the on-going meeting will serve as a historical landmark in arousing the whole army to strengthening companies, before declaring the meeting open.”  VMar Choe Ryong Hae delivered the meeting’s official report.   According to KCNA, VMar Choe said in his report:

President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) defined company as the cell of revolutionary armed forces and basic combat unit at a time when he formed the first armed ranks of Chuch’e-type in the forest of Mt. Paektu and brought up the fourth company of the 7th regiment of the anti-Japanese guerrillas as an exemplary company, thus setting a brilliant example in strengthening companies.

Kim Il Sung convened the meeting of company commanders and political instructors for the first time in the army-building history on October 11, Juche 62 (1973), attended the meeting and unfolded important guidelines in strengthening companies, an epoch-making event which effected a drastic turn in strengthening KPA companies.

Leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) put forth the original idea that strengthening company is a key link and a starting point in strengthening the whole army, brightly indicated orientation and ways for companies to follow at each stage and in each period of developing revolution and worked heart and soul for strengthening companies politically and militarily.

The Chuch’e-oriented idea of the great Generalissimos on strengthening companies and feats they performed by doing so are being successfully carried forward onto a higher stage thanks to the wise guidance of Marshal Kim Jong Un.

Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un formulated Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism as the guiding idea of the WPK and energetically led the work to model the whole army on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism in all aspects with companies as a base, thus opening up a heyday for strengthening the revolutionary armed forces.

Kim Jong Un brought up service personnel to be a-match-for-a hundred brave and stalwart fighters and provided energetic guidance to turn all companies into steel-strong militant ranks having strong discipline and assuming the perfect appearance as the regular armed forces by scrupulously managing the companies.

A fundamental turn took place in the ideological and moral traits of the company commanders and political instructors and in their work style and many successes were achieved in the efforts to consolidate the companies through the struggle to firmly preserve and glorify the idea of strengthening the companies set forth by the peerlessly great persons of Mt. Paektu and their feats.

VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department and Vice Chairman of the Party Central Military Commission delivers a report on the first day of the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commander and Political Instructors in Pyongyang on 22 October 2013 (Photo: KCTV still).

VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department and Vice Chairman of the Party Central Military Commission delivers a report on the first day of the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commander and Political Instructors in Pyongyang on 22 October 2013 (Photo: KCTV still).

Overview of the venue of the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of the venue of the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Choe Ryong Hae also “called for making sustained great efforts to bolster up the companies in order to accelerate the process of modeling the whole army on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism on a new higher stage and thus develop the KPA into an invincible revolutionary Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) army.”  KPA company commanders and political instructors delivers also made speeches during the meeting.  According to KCNA, the meeting speakers said “that all the companies of the KPA grew to be the ranks of human bullets and bombs devotedly defending the leader as they share the intention, love and destiny with the supreme commander under his energetic leadership and deep loving care” and “that they would turn all the companies into the ones of human bullets and bombs devotedly protecting the leader and defending the country full of faith and confidence that they are sure to emerge victorious as they are led by the supreme commander.”  Kim Jong Un listened to “all the speeches made by company commanders and political instructors at the meeting” and “invited the commander and former political instructor of the  Persimmon Tree (Kamnamu) company there to have a photo taken with them.”

Meeting speakers at the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors held in Pyongyang on 22 and 23 October 2013 (Photos: KCTV stills).

Meeting speakers at the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors held in Pyongyang on 22 and 23 October 2013 (Photos: KCTV stills).

Kim Jong Un also delivered an “historic speech” in which he appreciated “the successes made in the work of the companies” and lauded “those company commanders and political instructors who rendered devoted service for them.”  He also “set forth the tasks to be carried out to develop all companies into elite revolutionary ones devotedly defending the WPK Central Committee and the ways to do so” and “underscored need for them to firmly unite around the Party Central Committee to take the lead in overcoming difficulties and trials and fully prepare all the company soldiers politically and ideologically and in military technique.”  Kim Jong Un “called for establishing strong discipline in the companies, boosting their appearance as regular units, decisively raising the level of company commanding ability and improving the living conditions and environment of the soldiers” and noted “that the meeting helped him find out jewel-like patriots and unassuming commanders and political instructors who dedicated themselves to strengthening their companies.”  According to KCNA he said “in an excited tone that the Party Central Committee decided to highly praise them.”

VMar Choe Ryong Hae read a proclamation which awarded the title of Labor Hero, the Hammer and Sickle gold medal and Order of National Flag 1st Class to KPA company commander Kim Sang Il, KPA political instructor Pak Son Gi, company commander Kim Kwang Gum, Capt. Min Kwang Hae and company commander Sa Song Guk for performing “distinguished feats in bolstering up the KPA by strengthening companies into vanguard devotedly defending the leader, a-match-for-a hundred combat ranks and turning them into homes dear to soldiers, true to the last instructions of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and the leadership of the party.”

Kim Jong Un delivered the meeting’s closing speech.  According to KCNA he said “the meeting would go down in the history of the Chuch’e-based army building as it provided a landmark for the development of the powerful revolutionary Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) army with the strengthening of companies as a starting point under the uplifted banner of modeling the whole army on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism” and “declared the meeting closed, expressing belief that all participants in the meeting would augment the might of the People’s Army in every way, united close around the party, and thus perform their duty in carrying out the revolutionary cause of Military-First (So’ngun).

Kim Jong Un Visits Ku’msusan

10 Oct
Kim Jong Un and senior KPA officials visit Ku'msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 10 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un and senior KPA officials visit Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 10 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the Ku’msusan (Memorial) Palace of the Sun at midnight on 10 October (Thursday), the 68th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP].  Visiting Ku’msusan with him were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), along with senior KPA officials, commanders of KPA service branches and corps units, and members of the KPA’s KWP Committee.  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was at a commemorative photo session with members of the Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) University faculty who were moving into a new apartment complex.

Kim Jong Un and the members of the KPA’s high command first visited a hall containing statues of his grandfather, late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung, and his father, late leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).  Floral baskets from Kim Jong Un and the KPA were placed in front of the statues.  The group went to a chamber where Kim Il Sung’s remains permanently lie in state.  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “together with other visitors paid homage to him in the humblest reverence.”  They then visited an exhibition of awards, titles, honorary degrees Kim Il Sung received as well as Kim Il Sung’s personal railway coach and car.  The group then visited the chamber where Kim Jong Il’s personal remains lie permanently in state and “paid homage to him in the humblest reverence.”  Kim Jong Un and the senior military leaders then visited an exhibition containing awards, state titles and honorary degrees that Kim Jong Il received and an exhibition of Kim Jong Il’s personal railway coach, an electric cart, his boat and his black Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan.

The Ku’msusan visit on the party’s anniversary was the first observed occasion in DPRK state media at which Gen. Ri Yong Gil was identified as Chief of the KPA General Staff.  Interestingly, on a party-centered occasion, the coterie that accompanied Kim Jong Un on his latest visit to Ku’msusan consisted only of senior KPA officials.  While some members of the KPA’s high command are members of the Party Central Committee or the Party Central Military Commission and with the exception of VMar Choe Ryong Hae (KWP Secretary of Military Affairs), no members of the KWP Secretariat or any KWP Central Committee Department Directors were reported to be in attendance.

View of the statue hall at Ku'msusan Palace of the Sun on 10 October 2013, the 68th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean Workers' Party (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of the statue hall at Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun on 10 October 2013, the 68th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean Workers’ Party (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

WPRK Parade and Demonstration Held to Mark DPRK’s 65th Anniversary

10 Sep
2013-09-10-02-04

Kim Jong Un waves to a crowd from the parade review platform in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013, during a parade and demonstration marking the 65th anniversary of the country’s foundation. Also seen on the platform with him are Jang Song Taek (L), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (2nd L), Kim Ki Nam (3rd R), Kim Yong Nam (2nd R) and Pak Pong Ju (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The Worker-Peasant Red Guards [WPRG] staged a parade, followed by a demonstration by Pyongyangites, in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September (Monday), the 65th anniversary of the foundation of the DPRK.  Kim Jong Un attended the WPRG parade and demonstration.  Also on the reviewing platform were senior DPRK officials including Kim Yong Nam (Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium President), Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), “the chairperson of a friendly party, officials of the party, armed forces organs and the Cabinet and chief secretaries of Provincial Party Committees of the WPK” along with “Kwon Sun Hwi, advisor to the Central Standing Committee of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, and Choe Un Bok, chairwoman of the General Association of Koreans in China.”  Also in attendance were “deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly, officials of the party, armed forces and power bodies, social organizations, ministries and national institutions, service personnel of the KPA and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces, officials in the fields of science, education, literature and arts, public health and media, merited people, delegations of overseas Koreans and other compatriots and the chief of the Pyongyang Mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front” and “foreign delegations and delegates, foreign diplomatic envoys and representatives of international bodies and their wives and military attaches here and other foreign guests.”

Minister of the People's Armed Forces Gen. Jang Jong Nam (foreground) presents Worker-Peasant Red Guard members to participate in a parade marking the 6th anniversary of the foundation in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Jang Jong Nam (foreground) presents Worker-Peasant Red Guard members to participate in a parade marking the 6th anniversary of the foundation in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (C) delivers a speech at a parade and demonstration in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK's foundation.  Also seen in attendance is Minister of State Security Gen. Kim Won Hong (L) and National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Gen. O Kuk Ryol (R) (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (C) delivers a speech at a parade and demonstration in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK’s foundation. Also seen in attendance is Minister of State Security Gen. Kim Won Hong (L) and National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Gen. O Kuk Ryol (R) (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

The flags of the DPRK and Korean Workers’ Party were raised with musical accompaniment.  WPRG members were ceremoniously inspected then presented to Kim Jong Un by Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, Gen. Jang Jong Nam.  After the presentation of the WPRG members DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju delivered a speech in which, according to KCNA, he said “that the history of the DPRK clearly proves immutable truth that the great leaders assure the high dignity and prosperity of the country and nation” and “stressed that the army and people of the DPRK holding the peerlessly great men in high esteem generation after generation will as ever dynamically advance along the road of independence, Military-First (So’ngun) and socialism and it will shine forever as the socialist state of Juche with the invincible might.”

After Pak’s speech the WPRK parade began with the marching of flags displaying of the portraits late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and his son late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).  This was followed by WPRG members emptying Kim Il Sung Square and its vicinity to mark past the parade reviewing platform.  The WPRG members consisted of reserve military training units members of the WPRG’s units from the provinces, at industrial complexes and agricultural sites, along with WPRG units of the Ministries of Land Management and Public Health, reserve units from DPRK universities and members of the Young Red Guard.  The parade marchers were followed by a ride-past of multiple-launch rockets systems [MLRS] and towed artillery pieces.  A parade and demonstration by the citizens of Pyongyang followed the WPRK parade which began with a float consisting of replicas of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il statues amid a a sea of people carrying the DPRK flag.  According to KCNA “columns of dancers depicting the national flag, Taekwon-do players, military families, artistes, scientists, sportspersons, teachers and medical workers walked past the square” and “letters reading ‘Kim Il Sung’, ‘Kim Jong I’, ‘Kim Jong Un’, ‘Glory’, ‘Celebration of 65th Anniversary’, ‘Great Mt. Paketu (Paektusan) Nation’, ‘Speed on Masik Pass’, ‘Economic Power’, ‘Single-minded Unity’, etc. were presented on the square and the flags of the DPRK and the WPK were portrayed in succession.”

View of the Grand People's Study House overlooking Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 during a parade and demonstration marking the 65th anniversary of the country's foundation.  Also viewable in this image behind the study house are the KWP Organization Guidance Department, the Pyongyang Ice Rink and the Red Wall Apartments (inhabited by KWP Secretaries) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of the Grand People’s Study House overlooking Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 during a parade and demonstration marking the 65th anniversary of the country’s foundation. Also viewable in this image behind the study house are the KWP Organization Guidance Department, the Pyongyang Ice Rink and the Red Wall Apartments (inhabited by KWP Secretaries) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Members of the Worker-Peasant Red Guard march through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a parade marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK's foundation (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Members of the Worker-Peasant Red Guard march through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a parade marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK’s foundation (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Red tractors tow multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) through Kim Il Sung Square on 9 September 2013 as part of the WPRK parade (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Red tractors tow multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) through Kim Il Sung Square on 9 September 2013 as part of the WPRK parade (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Towed multiple-launch rocket systems ride through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Towed multiple-launch rocket systems ride through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Parade floats which were part of a demonstration by Pyongyangites which followed the WPRG parade, held on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Parade floats which were part of a demonstration by Pyongyangites which followed the WPRG parade, held on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un waves to a parade and demonstration held to mark the 65th anniversary of the DPRK's foundation in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013.  Also seen in attendance are: VMar Kim Yong Chun, Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Gen. Ri Yong Gil, Jang Song Taek and VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Photo: KCTV still).

Kim Jong Un waves to a parade and demonstration held to mark the 65th anniversary of the DPRK’s foundation in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013. Also seen in attendance are: VMar Kim Yong Chun, Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Gen. Ri Yong Gil, Jang Song Taek and VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Photo: KCTV still).

At the end of the parade “there were loud hurrahs resounding far and wide, fireworks being shot up and balloons rising to the sky.  Kim Jong Un, accompanied by VMar Choe Ryong Hae and Jang Song Taek, walked along the parade reviewing platform’s deck with Kim Jong Un waving to the crowd.

A few recent internal political issues (involving personnel matters) could be observed at the WPRK parade and demonstration.  Events held to mark the DPRK’s 65th anniversary were going to provide clarity on the current officeholder of Chief of the KPA General Staff.  Based on the standing order on the parade reviewing platform, Gen. Ri Yong Gil was standing in the spot previously occupied by Gen. Kim Kyok Sik indicating that Gen. Ri has replaced Gen. Kim.  Ri Yong Gil has also been replaced, with a new and unknown Chief of the General Staff Operations Bureau attending to Kim Jong Un during the WPRG parade.  The anniversary event also marked the return of KWP Secretary and weapons industry boss Pak To Chun.  Pak had not appeared in state media for several months and distinctly absent from war anniversary events in July.  Pak was shown at least three times, standing along side other senior KWP officials.   Kim Jong Un’s walk along the parade reviewing platform’s balcony to wave to the crowd was an interesting tabeleaux du régime for leadership dynamics.  Usual post-parade platform walks by the supreme leader have usually involved senior officials such as the SPA Presidium President, the DPRK Premier and the Chief of the KPA General Staff; instead, Kim Jong Un was accompanied by KPA General Political Department Director VMar Choe Ryong Hae and National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Jang Song Taek.  When taken with images and film footage of the war anniversary events from July,  Kim Jong Un’s balcony walk shows the DPRK’s top three political officials.

Minister of People’s Security Meets with Mongolian President

28 Aug
Minister of People's Security Gen. Choe Pu Il (L) shakes hands with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (R) in Ulan Bator on 28 August 2013 (Photo: Office of the President of Mongolia).

Minister of People’s Security Gen. Choe Pu Il (L) shakes hands with Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (R) in Ulan Bator on 28 August 2013 (Photo: Office of the President of Mongolia).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (background C) and Mongolian government officials (R) meet with Minister of People's Security Gen. Choe Pu Il and a DPRK delegation (L) in Ulan Bator on 28 August 2013 (Photo: Office of the President of Mongolia).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (background C) and Mongolian government officials (R) meet with Minister of People’s Security Gen. Choe Pu Il and a DPRK delegation (L) in Ulan Bator on 28 August 2013 (Photo: Office of the President of Mongolia).

Minister of People’s Security Gen. Choe Pu Il met with Mongolia’s President Taskhigiin Elbegdorj in Ulan Bator (Ulaanbaatar) on 28 August (Wednesday).  According to the Mongolian President’s Office, Elbegdorj “expressed his satisfaction over the visit of North Korean delegations and conveyed his greetings to the First Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea and the First Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea Kim Jong-un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n)” and he “emphasized that this year marks the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations established between Mongolia and DPRK and the 25th anniversary of former leader of DPRK Kim Il-sung’s (Kim Il-so’ng) visit to Mongolia.”  Elbegdorj noted that he had earlier received an invitation to visit the DPRK and said that he “intends to exchange views with Kim Jong-un on the bilateral and regional cooperation.”  Elbegdorj also “underlined an importance of high-level visits and political talks for forwarding the bilateral relations and cooperation” and “emphasized an importance of an upcoming 9th meeting of the intergovernmental commission to be held this September, and said the countries are possible to develop the mutually-beneficial cooperation in trade, tourism, physical culture and sport fields and in exchanging labour force based on their advantages,” according to Mongolia state media.    Choe Pu Il conveyed Kim Jong Un’s greetings to Elbegdorj and said the DPRK and Mongolia have longstanding ties and added “the countries will continue the friendly relations for the people’s happiness.”

President Elbegdorj said that he was satisfied with the cooperation between the Mongolian Ministry of Justice and the DPRK’s Ministry of People’s Security and he “emphasized an importance of widening the collaboration in trade and economic spheres.”  Elbegdorj told Choe Pu Il  “that Mongolia has put an initiative on holding the Ulaanbaatar Talks on Security of Northeast Asia” and that he hopes “that the visit of the Minister of People’s Security will significantly contribute to strengthening the bilateral friendly relations and developing the collaboration and ties between the legislative bodies and law enforcement authorities.”

Former Minister of People’s Security Ju Sang Song Appeared at War Anniversary Events

7 Aug
Former Minister of People's Security Ju Sang Song (C) talks with fellow Korean War veterans at the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang on 26 July 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

Former Minister of People’s Security Ju Sang Song (C) talks with fellow Korean War veterans at the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang on 26 July 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

Ju Sang Song (Chu Sang-so’ng), who served as Minister of People’s Security from 2004 to 2011, appeared on Korean Central Television [KCTV] evening news on 26 July visiting the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery on Mt. Taeso’ng in Pyongyang with other veterans of the Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War).  Previously a four-star general (taejang), Ju appeared on the news wearing two stars on his shoulder board indicating he now holds the rank of Lieutenant General (chungjang).  According to a 29 July report by Yonhap during the news broadcast, Ju is seen talking with other veterans in front of the memorials to Choe Hyon and Ryu Kyong Su.  Ju joined the Korean People’s Army [KPA] in June 1951, after the outbreak of the Korean War, and later attended Kim Il Sung Military Academy.  Ju held a number command positions in the KPA’s ground forces and was appointed to his first political office when he was elected an alternate (candidate) member of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Central Committee at the 5th Party Congress in November 1970.  He was later removed as Party Central Committee Alternate.  In 1997, Ju Sang Song was appointed commander of the IV Army Corps and in 2004 he was appointed Minister of People’s Security.  In April 2009 Ju was elected a member of the DPRK National Defense Commission and in September 2010 was elected a full member of the Party Central Committee and a full member of the KWP Political Bureau.

Top image: Ju Sang Song brings a floral bouquet to the memorial to Kim Jong Su, mother of KWP Secretary and Political Bureau Member Kim Kyong Hui and her brother late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il.  Bottom image: Ju Sang Song talks with fellow war veterans at the cemetery (Photos: KCTV screengrabs).

Top image: Ju Sang Song brings a floral bouquet to the memorial to Kim Jong Su, mother of KWP Secretary and Political Bureau Member Kim Kyong Hui and her brother late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il. Bottom image: Ju Sang Song talks with fellow war veterans at the cemetery (Photos: KCTV screengrabs).

In March 2011 he was removed from office as the Minister of People’s Security and an NDC Member due to what the NDC said was ill health.  Somereports claimed that Ju was dismissed because he did not demonstrate the proper concern and vigilance in investigating and arresting university students who allegedly vandalized the birthplace and childhood home of the late DPRK President and founder, Kim Il Sung, in Mangyo’ngdae.  Yonhap, citing anonymous ROK government sources, reports that he “was dismissed for accepting bribes” and  “being caught in individual corruption during the Workers Party organizational guidance division’s investigation.”  According to Yonhap after his dismissal Ju Sang Song was assigned to work as the chief of people’s security in Taedong County, South P’yo’ngan Province, although it also noted that “it has not been verified which position Ju Sang Song is currently holding or whether he is receiving ‘veteran treatment’ after retiring.”

Ju Sang Song was not the only senior DPRK officials who was disappeared or dismissed to show up at the anniversary events held in late July.  Attending the opening of the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs’ Cemetery, held on 25 July, were former Minister of People’s Security (2011-2013) Gen. Ri Myong Su (who replaced Ju Sang Song), Senior Vice Minister of State Security Gen. U Tong Chuk and former Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Pak Jae Gyong.   Gen. Ri Myong Su also visited the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery, as did former chief of the KPA GeneralStaff Operations Bureau, Gen. Kim Myong Guk.

Kim Kyok Sik Meets Raul Castro and Cuban Defense Minister

2 Jul
Cuban President Raúl Castro (L) shakes hands with Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (R), Chief of the KPA General Staff, in Havana on 1 July 2013 (Photo: Prensa Latina).

Cuban President Raúl Castro (L) shakes hands with Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (R), Chief of the KPA General Staff, in Havana on 1 July 2013 (Photo: Prensa Latina).

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff,  met with Cuban President Raúl Castro in Havana on 1 July (Monday).  According to Cuban state television, Raúl welcomed Gen. Kim and a KPA delegation’s visit to Cuba and “both leaders talked about the historic ties between their countries, and expressed the common will to continue the relations.”  Also in attendance at the meeting were DPRK Ambassador to Cuba Jon Yong Jin and Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces [FAR], Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frías.

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (R) greets Gen.  Leopoldo Cintra Frías, Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Havana on 30 June 2013 (Photo: FAR/PRLNA).

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (R) greets Gen. Leopoldo Cintra Frías, Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces in Havana on 30 June 2013 (Photo: FAR/PRLNA).

On 30 June (Sunday), Kim Kyok Sik held a meeting with Leopoldo Cintra Frías.  The meeting was attended by Jon Yong Jin along with the DPRK’s resident defense attache at its Havana embassy and “other officials concerned.”  During the meeting, according to Cuban media, Kim “hailed the brotherhood ties between his country and Cuba.”  Gen. Kim  also said “I have seen how the Cuban people fights for socialism and I am convinced that our friendship relations will continue” and he remarked that during his stay on the island he had “seen the successes of the country in defense of socialism against the aggressions of the United States.”  According to KCNA, “both sides informed the situation of their countries and exchanged views on boosting the friendly relations between the two armies and peoples of the two countries” and the meeting “proceeded in a comradely and friendly atmosphere.”  Over the weekend, Gen. Kim and the KPA delegation visited FAR military units and military academies.

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik tours the Grand Rescue Tank Unit where expressed respect and admiration for the FAR (Photo: Yaíma García Vizcaíno).

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik tours the Grand Rescue Tank Unit where he expressed respect and admiration for the FAR (Photo: Yaíma García Vizcaíno).

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