DPRK state media reported on 13 June (Thursday) that DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju visited the Pyongyang Essential Foodstuffs Factory and the renovation of the Yanggakdo Football Stadium. Pak’s first visit was to the Pyongyang Essential Foodstuffs Factory, following up a visit by DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) which was reported in state media on 7 June. Pak toured the food factory and “congratulated its officials and employees upon presenting a great pleasure to Kim Jong Un.” He also convened a meeting with the factory’s managers and officials which “which stressed the need for the factory to activate the production on the basis of production potentiality. It also pressed for the measures for relevant units to substantially provide necessary raw and other materials.” Pak later visited Yanggakdo Stadium, currently under going renovation work by construction units of the Ministry of Railways. Pak “encouraged officials and employees of the Ministry of Railways all out in the drive to carry out the on-the-spot instructions given by the dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un on successfully remodeling the stadium into an exclusive one that can represent football stadium of the DPRK” and “underscored the need for the officials and builders to keep in mind the undying exploits of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il for the development of the Chuch’e-oriented sports and bring about great innovations in remodeling the stadium,” according to KCNA. Pak held a “consultative meeting” with construction managers and officials and “discussed the matters arising in sprucing up the stadium.”
DPRK state media reported that Korean People’s Army [KPA] and civilian construction personnel contributing to the Sep’o grazing land reclamation project in Kangwo’n Province held an army-people solidarity meeting in support of the Masikryo’ng Speed Battle on 13 June (Thursday). Attending the meeting were DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju, Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department Kim Ki Nam, KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department Kwak Pom Gi, DPRK Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Ro Tu Chol, Korean People’s Internal Security Forces Political Bureau Director Col. Gen. Ri Pyong Sam along with “officials of ministries and national institutions, service personnel of the Korean People’s Army and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces, members of shock brigade and officials and other people in Sep’o County.”
At the start of the meeting, Kim Jong Un’s letter of appeal on the Masikryo’ng Speed battle was read. The meeting’s speakers said that “they would make a breakthrough for the ranks with daring and bold operation and skillful command just like the KPA officers who are taking part in the construction of the Masik Pass Skiing Ground, and make positive contribution to implementing the grand plan of Kim Jong Un ahead of schedule,” according to KCNA. A letter of appeal from personnel involved in the Sep’o tableland project was also read at the meeting. The letter was addressed to “working people across the country” and said that “they would turn the tableland not only into the world-wide stockbreeding base but also into a famous tourist resort by building skiing and sliding grounds, race course, ecological park, lodging houses and other facilities for tourists” and it “called for making the army-people grand advance of Songun Korea in the spirit of the “Masikryong Speed” and ushering in a great heyday of Kim Jong Un’s era.”
DPRK state media reported that Choe Pu Il, Minister of the People’s Security, was restored to his previous rank of four-star General (taejang) per an order of Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n). Choe Pu Il was first promoted to General by late leader Kim Jong Il on 28 September 2010. Choe’s name appeared on a promotions list which also elevated Kim Jong Un, Choe Ryong Hae (current Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department; later elevated to Vice Marshal [ch'asu]) Kim Kyong Ok (Senior Deputy (vice) Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Organization Guidance Department), Hyon Yong Chol (then-commander of VIII Army Corps; served as Chief of the KPA General Staff from July 2012 to May 2013 and currently commander of V Army Corps) and Kim Kyong Hui (Kim Jong Un’s aunt and a core member of the DPRK leadership). Choe was rumored to have been reduced rank to three-star Colonel-General (sangjang) in late 2011, although it is not clear what prompted his demotion. From about 2012 until February 2013 Choe Pu Il served as the Chief of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau. In February he was appointed Minister of the People’s Security, where he replaced Gen. Ri Myong Su. On 31 March 2013, Choe was elected an alternate (candidate) member of the KWP Political Bureau and at the 7th session (plenum) of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] on 1 April 2013 Choe was elected a member of the DPRK National Defense Commission [NDC].
According to KCNA, the Ministry of the People’s Security [MPS] and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces [KPISF] “together with the Korean People’s Army constitute armed groups which play the role of two mainstays of the Korean revolution” and in issuing the promotion order Kim Jong Un “expressed belief that all service persons of the people’s security organ and the KPISF would creditably perform their honorable mission and duty as the first-line soldiers protecting the socialist system, remaining loyal to the leadership of the party.” Rodong Sinmun reported that Choe Pu Il’s rank was restored because “The organ of people’s security and the people’s internal security forces are two leading armed groups that, together with the people’s army, form twin pillars of our revolution. In the past period, members of the public security corps and the officers and men of the people’s internal security forces performed great feats that will forever shine in the history of the fatherland by highly demonstrating boundless devotion and sacrifice in the sacred struggle to defend the party, system, and the people both in the days of glory and days of ordeals while highly upholding the banner of death-defying defense of the leader” and that “the prevailing situation urgently demands the organ of the people’s security and the people’s internal security forces, which are the revolutionary armed forces of our party, to impregnably guard the gateway of the socialist system and to reliably guarantee, with gun barrels and law, the party’s line on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of nuclear armed forces.”
Choe Pu Il’s February 2013 appointment as Minister created a superficial gap in the power balance among the DPRK’s internal security agencies. His counterpart at the Ministry of State Security, Kim Won Hong, was a four-star general. The formal military rankings of these agencies’ leading officials suggest that the one led by a full-general has a more superior position, and valued more by the leader, than an agency led by a three-star general. Based on his observed and reported public activities, Kim Jong Un appeared to be favoring the Ministry of State Security over the Ministry of the People’s Security. Both ministries erected statues of late leader Kim Jong Il on the campuses of their respective headquarters, however Kim Jong Un visited the Ministry of State Security after it unveiled its KJI statue, but not the MPS. The MPS, however, demonstrated its political clout in 2012 when KPISF commander, Gen. Kim In Sik, was appointed Vice Premier of the DPRK Cabinet and later appointed Chairman of the Capital City (Pyongyang) Construction Commission. Kim Jong Un visited People’s Security headquarters and inspected a KPISF unit on May Day (1 May; International Labor Day) 2013.
The Ministry of the People’s Security is a large security organization consisting of (ca.) 200,000 employees with diverse missions. In DPRK vernacular, the MPS is “a dinosaur” indicating the immense size and resources of the organization. The MPS is the DPRK’s major domestic law enforcement and public safety organization. It enforces DPRK laws and statutes (i.e. misdemeanors and felonies), discharges a number of public safety functions (fire departments, traffic control, road and railway security), administers prisons and labor detention facilities and is responsible for various registration records (the census, birth and death certificates, marriage licenses). MPS personnel provide security to DPRK Embassies and missions located abroad, to DPRK Cabinet members and other DPRK government officials and DPRK universities and research institutions. They also support the missions of the Guard Command, which provides close protection for Kim Jong Un and others core DPRK elites. The MPS and the KPISF also operate several engineering and construction brigades (which some sources claim construct the tunnels used in nuclear detonations) and own several farms and other production sites, including the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm and Factory and the 927 Chicken Farm. The MPS and KPISF are subordinate to the National Defense Commission, but they report to Jang Song Taek in his capacity as NDC Vice Chairman and Director of the KWP Administration Department.
Like some other recent personnel changes at the upper tier of the DPRK’s** national security community, Choe Pu Il’s replacement of Ri Myong Su did not involve an aggressive purge of the incumbent official in favor of a Kim Jong Un loyalist. Despite being removed from office, Gen. Ri appears to remain a member of the central leadership, albeit operating in a diminished capacity. Like his two immediate predecessors, Choe has spent part of his career in command positions in the KPA’s conventional forces. Both Choe Pu Il and Ri Myong Su have held the position of Chief of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau [GSOB]. Choe was head of the operations bureau from 2012 to 2013 and Ri headed the bureau from approximately 1996 to 2007. Like the Minister of People’s Security, the Chief of the General Staff Operations Bureau leads a diverse security organization with hundred of thousands of personnel, has direct access to the supreme leader and an intimate knowledge of the country’s various power organizations and their activities. While not a head of the GSOB, Ri Myong Su’s predecessor, Gen. Ju Sang Song, had served as an inspector-general of the Chief KPA General Staff and was the commander of the IV Army Corps. Since the health-related retirement of Paek Hak Rim in 2003, the MPS had only once been led by a civilian, Choe Ryong Su, who served as Minister for about a year until he was removed from office. Since Choe’s 2004 dismissal, the DPRK leadership has seemingly earmarked the Minister’s position for the KPA.
**Rumors of purged security officials are greatly exaggerated in the Pyongyang watching community. Gen. U Tong Chuk stood aside as Minister of State Security in 2012 and vacated his political offices, but was never purged. Readers can do the math on Gen. U’s status, factoring in that he spent much of his career as an overseas intelligence manager and officer. VMar Kim Jong Gak was removed as Minister of the People’s Armed Forces in November 2011, but has not lost his Vice Marshal’s rank and was assigned another position. Hyon Yong Chol, who served as Chief of the KPA General Staff from July 2012 to May 2013, was reduced in rank and assigned command of V Army Corps. And then there’s Kim Kyok Sik, removed from office as Minister of the People’s Armed Forces in May 2013 after six months in officer. Gen. Kim, identified as the target of the biggest purge this side of ’56, ended up appointed Chief of the General Staff.
***For fans of James Church’s Inspector O series, “the Minister” in The Corpse in the Koryo and Bamboo and Blood was Paek Hak Rim and “the Minister” in Hidden Moon was Choe Ryong Su***
DPRK state media reported on 10 June (Monday) that Supreme People’s Assembly Presidium President and nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam (Kim Yo’ng-nam) toured the Sep’o Tableland project, which is attempting to reclaim grassland for livestock grazing lands in Kangwo’n Province. Kim’s visit was tied to internal publicity efforts in support of the “Masiknyo’ng Speed” battle, proposed in a written appeal by DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) on 4 June. Kim visited with the Korean People’s Army [KPA] service members and officers contributing to the project. Kim “inspired the service personnel and shock brigade members who perform feats day after day in the same spirit as displayed in winding up the sowing of grass seeds in the reclaimed tableland covering thousands of hectares in the right time of spring.” Kim “met officials concerned to learn about the reclamation of the tableland. He said that the achievements made at the projects are the shining product of patriotism and loyalty displayed by service personnel and people of the DPRK inheriting the fighting spirit of the preceding generations who performed heroic feats in the history of the country in hearty response to the call of the party and the leader.” According to KCNA, Kim Yong Nam “told officials that nothing is impossible if everybody works hard in the spirit of devotedly carrying out the party’s policies and the spirit of ‘at a go’, bearing deep in mind the noble intention of the dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un” and he “expressed belief that all the builders of the tableland would bring about a leap forward and innovations in every construction site like the soldier-builders who created the ‘Masiknyo’ng Speed’ and thus live up to the deep trust and expectation of Kim Jong Un.
DPRK state media reported that a tablet bearing the autograph of DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) was placed at Taeso’ngsan General Hospital during a ceremony held on 10 June (Monday). KCNA reported that Kim Jong Un sent the tablet “after wisely leading the work to complete its construction at the best level and open it as early as possible as instructed by leader Kim Jong Il.” According to KCNA “right after the liberation of Korea, Generalissimo Kim Il Sung had a hospital for soldiers built and clearly indicated the way to be followed by it” and that “true to his noble intention, Kim Jong Il initiated the building of the Taesongsan General Hospital and worked heart and soul for its completion.” The ceremony placing the tablet at the hospital was presided over by VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department. According to KCNA Choe said “that the medical officers and nurses of the hospital should devotedly save lives of service personnel, bearing deep in mind the autograph of Kim Jong Un.” After the speeches, ceremony participants examined the tablet and were received briefings about its installation and significance.
DPRK state media reported that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended the 7th Congress of the Korean Children’s Union [KCU] and a commemorative photo session with participants in the KCU Congress on 6 June (Thursday). Attending the KCU congress and photo session with him were VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department, Ri Yong Su, Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Workers’ Organizations Department, Kim Sung Du, Chairman of the DPRK Education Commission, Jon Yong Nam, Chairman of the Kim Il Sung (Socialist) Youth League, along with KISYL, KWP, KPA and DPRK Government officials. Kim Jong Un’s last observed public appearance was a visit to the newly constructed Posong Mushroom Farm.
The Korean Children’s Union’s 7th Congress was held at the 25 April House of Culture. The purpose of the KCU’s 7th Congress was “strengthening the KCU developed under the care of the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il into the Military-First (so’ngun) children’s revolutionary organization of the Workers’ Party of Korea.” Attending the congress, according to KCNA, were “delegates selected from KCU organizations across the country, officials in charge of children’s life and other officials concerned,” and “as observers were children of servicepersons on Jangjae, Mu and Wolnae islets and other frontline posts and schoolchildren in Pyongyang.” Kim Jong Un, described as “the benevolent father of the Korean schoolchildren,” made his way to a VIP seating area and had the KCU’s red neckerchief tied around his neck. He “congratulated the delegates on their enthusiastic cheers and warmly acknowledged all the participants in the congress.”
The KCU’s 7th Congress had two agenda items: 1.) “On the tasks of the KCU to bring up its members to be young revolutionaries and vanguard of the Military-First (so’ngun) Era always following the dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un in firm conviction,” and 2.) revising the KCU’s bylaws. Jon Yong Nam delivers a report on the first item on the agenda. According to KCNA, in his report Jon said “the glorious course of the KCU has been associated with the deep loving care of the Generalissimos who provided deep and firm roots for the Juche-oriented children’s movement and led the KCU step by step in line with the requirements of the developing revolution” and Jon “referred to the great successes of the KCU after the 6th congress under the sagacious leadership and meticulous care of Generalissimo Kim Jong Il and Marshal Kim Jong Un.” The report “called upon the KCU members to cherish honor and pride of being members of glorious Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s KCU and firmly prepare themselves to be reliable successors of the military-first (so’ngun) revolution faithful to Kim Jong Un, true to their pledges before the KCU flags.”
After the meeting report, a series of KCU and KISYL speakers “talked about their honor of taking part in the congress in the presence of Marshal Kim Jong Un and their pride of acquiring ample knowledge, good moral character and good health under the deep care of the peerlessly great persons” and “vowed to carry forward the traditions of Mt. Paektu under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea.” According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “heard with keen interest the speeches of delegates, warmly applauding them.” KCNA reported that the first agenda item was adopted and that the second was “discussed and decided upon.”
Kim Jong Un later attended a commemorative photo session with congress participants. KCU members presented him with floral bouquets prior to the photo-op. According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said that “the congress marked an important occasion in eternally glorifying the undying feats of the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il who dedicated their all to developing the Chuch’e-oriented movement of the Korean children” and ”congratulated the participants in the congress who demonstrated before the world through the congress the spirit of the KCU members firmly preparing themselves to be dependable builders of the thriving nation.” He also “expressed expectation and belief that the delegates to the 7th Congress of the KCU would always take the lead in consolidating the KCU organizations to be stronger ranks of the pillars responsible for the future of the great Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) nation.”
Before the formal delivery of the Sonyonho MRLS, Jon Yong Nam delivered the ceremony’s keynote speech. Jon and other speakers at the ceremony said “that they would actively conduct Our School-Our Post movement and diverse do-good-thing campaign and send more combat and technical equipment named Sonyonho to the KPA” and “noted that servicepersons would sweep away the strongholds of the U.S. imperialists and South Korean group of traitors who work hard to stifle socialism in the DPRK by fully charging the multiple launch rocket systems in the spirit of annihilating the enemy.” After the speaking program, the MLRS paraded through Hamhu’ng’s city centre.
DPRK state media reported on 3 June (Monday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the Kosan Fruit Farm in Kosan County, Kangwo’n Province. Attending the visit were Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff), Choe Hwi (Senior Deputy [1st] Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Propaganda and Agitation Department) Pak Tae Song (Deputy KWP Director), Col. Gen. Pak Jong Chon (Chief of the KPA Artillery Command) and Maj. Gen. An Ji Yong. Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his inspection of the KPA base on Mt. Osong and KPA Unit #507.
The Kosan Fruit Farm is reportedly undergoing a major expansion. The fruit farm was one of two pomiculture sites on the DPRK’s east coat which received technical advice on cultivation and modernization during 2008 to 2010 through a program of Germany’s Ministry of Cooperation [PDF available from the National Committee on North Korea here]. After arriving at the fruit farm, Kim Jong Un was briefed about the farm’s geography and production. He recalled a June 2011 visit to the fruit farm by late leader Kim Jong Il and said the farm “an important one to which the leader paid special attention as it is directly linked with the people’s living.” Kim Jong Un was also briefed about the construction activities of KPA Construction Shock Brigade #618 which has contributed to the Kosan Fruit Farm’s expansion.
Kim Jong Un was also briefed about the cultivation of apple trees and according to KCNA said that “he felt as if he were watching trees heavily laden with apples in autumn and expressed satisfaction at the fact that the farm has turned into a young orchard.” He “stressed the need to mass-produce organic compound fertilizer and thus decisively raise the fertility of soil by applying a ring-shaped rotation production system to the combination of fruit farming and stock-breeding” and “also underscored the need for the farm to make full preparations from now on to solve the issues arising in picking and carrying apples and processing fruits, in particular, in keeping with the increase of fruit production.” Kim Jong Un instructed that a combined fruit farm be constructed on the premises of the fruit farm. He also toured an irrigation facility. According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “praised the builders and employees of the farm for having introduced a modern irrigation system to put the manuring and cultivation of fruit trees on a highly intensive basis and thus provided a scientific and technological guarantee for boosting the fruit production while safely cultivating the trees.” He also saw a road recently completed by KPA Construction Shock Brigade #618.
Kim Jong Un remarked that “it is meaningful, indeed, that a large orchard has made its appearance at the foot of Chol Pass symbolic of the Military-First (So’ngun) revolutionary leadership. . . a fresh fairyland called ‘the sea of apples at foot of Chol Pass’ will spring up when the project for expanding the capacity of the farm comes to a finish and a sea of apples is unfolded there.” Kim Jong Un toured a small construction materials factory and said “the expansion project should be completed unconditionally at the date fixed by Kim Jong Il” and he “expressed expectation and belief that the members of the shock brigade and the employees of the farm would make sustained efforts to step up the project and increase the fruit production.”