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.”
Yonhap News Agency reported and confirmed on 1 February (Friday) that the Korea Taep’ung International Investment Group has dissolved. Taep’ung began as an energy provider selling oil and gas (via Sinu’iju) to the Korean People’s Army [KPA] and Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Central Committee. Its leading executive was Pak Chol Su, a Korean resident in China. Through his sales of energy supplies to the party and army, Pak became part of the Pyongyang social scene and eventually developed close ties with senior KPA and KWP officials. In 2006 Taep’ung was formally organized as one of the country’s direct foreign investment entities. Until 2010 there was little reported about Taep’ung’s activities in the country.
In early 2010, Taep’ung was designated as a key investment entity of the DPRK through authorization by Kim Jong Il and the National Defense Commission. On 20 January 2010, the Korea Taep’ung International Investment Group was formally incorporated and held a meeting of its 7 member board of directors in Pyongyang. KWP Secretary and United Front Department Director Kim Yang Gon was appointed director-general of the board in his capacity as Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee with Pak Chol Su appointed a deputy director-general of the board. According to DPRK state media Taepu’ng was organized under the auspices of the DPRK National Defense Commission, the DPRK Cabinet and Ministry of Finance and the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee. Incorporated and organized alongside Taepu’ng’s expansion was the State Development Bank, which would be led by Jon Il Chun, a proxy for the National Defense Commission and a close aide to the late leader Kim Jong Il. Jon, also (and currently) a deputy director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department, was elevated to head the State Development Bank at the same time he was appointed to manage the powerful DPRK conglomerate Taeso’ng Group and as the key head of Office #39, lucrative entities earning foreign currency for the DPRK. Taep’ung had attained such a flavor-of-the-week status that one of its key KPA contacts appeared on an April 2010 military promotions list.
Despite several attempts, including the internal transfer of several state-owned enterprises, and a high profile trip by Jon Il Chun at the head of a large delegation of executives under the auspices of Taepu’ng, the company attained little to no foreign direct investment. There were also unconfirmed (and likely erroneous) rumors Taepu’ng became the business rival to another DPRK entity, reportedly established as a competing venture by Gen. O Kuk Ryol. According to Yonhap, Taep’ung “oversaw the now-suspended joint tourist program in Mount Kumgang on the eastern coast of North Korea” and was dissolved along with “another extra-governmental organization in charge of trade promotion and foreign investment with its work believed to have been reassigned to the government’s Commission for Joint Venture and Investment.” It appears that a lot of direct foreign investment has now been consolidated under the Joint Venture and Investment Commission [JVIC], which is under the direction of Ri Ryong Nam and Ri Chol, along with the heavy hand of the Ryo’ngdoja, Jang Song Taek. There also became problems with Taepu’ng’s Chinese backer Pak Chol Su and it did not help Taepu’ng’s external activities to have the imprimatur of the National Defense Commission, which is subjected to numerous United Nations and unilateral sanctions.
Similarly Taepu’ng’s existence may have presented a fundamental obstacle, or proven the wrong entity, for progress in the development of Special Economic Trade Zones in Rajin-So’nbong (Raso’n) and Hwanggu’mp’yo’ng/Wihwa Islands. Of course, one corporation is but a small obstruction to howeverUnited Nations Security Council reacts to the potential nuclear test. And yet, development in Raso’n (despite what one might read in the general lit.) seems to making some progress, likely in anticipation of the thaw of Unggi Bay. It remains to be seen if the upcoming nuclear detonation and its UNSC blowback will affect the activities and formation of various PRC-DPRK development working groups (anchored in China) in late December 2012, and the signing of additional and explicit agreements on infrastructure and design using both DPRK and Chinese entities (no one will use the term iron-clad, just yet).
On 23 January, Chinese media reported that the DPRK Government approved the opening of a Chinese commercial bank primarily to settle transactions in Raso’n. The bank was founded and a ribbon cutting ceremony held on 18 January. According to Hunchun Rexian “Chinese Commercial Bank was put together and founded by China Gold Trade Exchange (Dalian) Company Ltd. The bank’s primary business is renminbi settlement, handling letter of credit, bill of exchange, letter of guarantee, and guaranty for cross-border renminbi transactions, and offering savings, loans, banking, and other financial services. Chinese Commercial Bank was founded to conform with the needs of massive development of Sino- DPRK economic and trade at present as well as the needs of the “Outline of General Program for Joint Development and Joint Management of Naso’n Economic and Trade Zone As Well As Hwanggu’mp’yo’ng Economic Zone,” which was signed by China and the DPRK; it will act as a bridge and a bond in promoting and safeguarding Sino-DPRK economic and trade development.” Hunchun (PRC) Vice Mayor Ren Puyu said that, ”Agreement on Joint Development and Joint Management of Raso’n Economic and Trade Zone” between the Chinese and the DPRK governments, and is the bridge and bond for serving Sino-DPRK financial cooperation and trade interactions; it will definitely play a positive role in promoting Sino-DPRK economic and trade interactions as well as economic prosperity in the future.”
DPRK state media reported on 26 January (Saturday) that participants of the 4th Meeting of Party Cell Secretaries (Fourth Meeting of Secretaries of Cells of the Workers’ Party of Korea) arrived at Pyongyang Central Railway Station during the day, “warmly greeted by officials of the Central Committee of the WPK [Workers' Party of Korea; Korean Workers' Party] and other officials concerned.” The first items on the itinerary were visits to Mt. Taeso’ng to the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery and to Ku’msusan Memorial Palace (of the Sun).
The party cells secretaries and meeting participants paid their respects with floral bouquets at the bronze memorial bust of Kim Jong Suk, first wife of the late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung, mother of late leader Kim Jong Il and current KWP Secretary and Department Director Kim Kyong Hui. The party cell secretaries also delivered a floral wreath and bouquets and “ observed a moment’s silence in memory of anti-Japanese revolutionary martyrs,” according to KCNA.
The meeting participants also visited the recently renovated Ku’msusan Memorial Palace. They gathered in the hall where the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il stand. They paid their respects to the body of Kim Il Sung “who successfully accomplished the unique cause of party building and energetically led the party cells to grow stronger and raise their roles in every period of the revolutionary development and at its every stage.” They also paid their respects to the remains of Kim Jong Il, “expressing their inmost feelings that thanks to the dear respected Kim Jong Un who is successfully carrying forward and developing the Generalissimos’ idea of party building and feats performed by them, the revolutionary cause of the party, the Songun revolutionary cause of Juche is winning victory after victory,” according to KCNA. After paying their respects to the preserved bodies of KIS and KJI, the party cell secretaries and meeting participants toured the exhibition halls containing various documents, orders and honorary degrees of KIS and KJI, as well their personal affects including railway carriages, Mercedes Benz S-Class sedans and other items.
The 4th Meeting of Party Cell Secretaries begins on 28 January (Monday).
As a lagniappe to this posting, whilst watching the coverage of the party cell secretaries arriving DPRK state media captured an image of the section of Pyongyang Central Railway Station restricted to Kim Jong Il and other elites.
DPRK state media issued an official report on 12 December (Wednesday) on the launch of the U’nha-3 carrier rocket from the Sohae Space Center earlier in the day. The launch of the U’nha-3 and its payload the Kwangmyo’ngso’ng-3 [KMS-3] was done “true to the last instructions of leader Kim Jong Il.” According to KCNA, “Carrier rocket U’nha-3 with the second version of satellite Kwangmyo’ngso’ng-3 atop blasted off from the Sohae Space Center in Ch’o'lsan County, North P’yo’ngan Province at 09:49:46 on December 12, Juche 101(2012). The satellite entered its preset orbit at 09:59:13, 9 minutes and 27 seconds after the lift-off.”
The KMS-3 ” is going round the polar orbit at 499.7 km perigee altitude and 584.18 km apogee altitude at the angle of inclination of 97.4 degrees. Its cycle is 95 minutes and 29 seconds.” The KMS-3 “is fitted with survey and communications devices essential for the observation of the earth.” The U’nha 3′s launch “is a proud fruition of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s policy of attaching importance to the science and technology. It is also an event of great turn in developing the country’s science, technology and economy by fully exercising the independent right to use space for peaceful purposes.” The KCNA report implies that the launch of the U’nha-3 is linked to the one-year anniversary of the demise of supreme leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) who passed away on 17 December 2011.
According Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics the U’nha-3 launch was “a perfect success for north Korea.” McDowell wrote: “ The Unha-3 rocket carried the second flight model of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite. Initial reports indicated that the first and second stages of the rocket fired successfully with second stage impact near the Phillipines. US tracking then cataloged object 39026 as 2012-072A in a 494 x 588 km x 97.4 deg sun-synchronous orbit with a 0900 local time descending node; two further objects were cataloged in similar 497 x 582 and 498 x 570 km orbits.”
On 12 December DPRK state media carried a statement from the country’s Foreign Ministry (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) which said that the “U.S. over-reacted to the DPRK’s satellite launch in April out of hostile feelings which compelled the DPRK to reexamine the nuclear issue as a whole” and that “we hope that all countries concerned will use reason and remain cool so as to prevent the situation from developing to undesirable direction.” The full English statement says:
The successful satellite launch in the DPRK was a desire at the behest of leader Kim Jong Il and part of peaceful work in line with the country’s scientific and technological development plan for the economic construction and improvement of people’s living standard.
All the people across the country are greatly excited at the news of the successful launch and progressives are extending sincere congratulations to them.
Hostile forces, however, are showing signs of sinister bid to take issue with the launch for peaceful purposes, while terming it “violation of resolution” of the UN Security Council.
The right to use outer space for peaceful purposes is universally recognized by international law and it reflects the unanimous will of the international community. So this issue is not one over which the UNSC can say this or that.
Only the DPRK’s satellite launch is regarded as long-range missile launch for military purposes, “provocation” and cause of increasing tension. This is prompted by the hostility toward the DPRK.
The U.S. over-reacted to the DPRK’s satellite launch in April out of hostile feelings which compelled the DPRK to reexamine the nuclear issue as a whole.
The concept of hostility will not be of any help, and confrontation will not help settle anything, either.
We hope that all countries concerned will use reason and remain cool so as to prevent the situation from developing to undesirable direction.
No matter what others say, we will continue to exercise our legitimate right to launch satellites and thus actively contribute to the economic construction and improvement of the standard of people’s living while conquering space.
Compare the DPRK Foreign Ministry’s statement with the 12 December remarks from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, according to Xinhua English:
China regrets the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) satellite launch amid the “universal” concern of the international community, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday.
Spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks at a daily news briefing, responding to a reporter’s question on DPRK’s satellite launch.
“The Chinese side always holds that (all sides concerned) should find an ultimate way to long-lasting peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula through dialogues and consultations,” Hong said.
“(We) hope that all sides concerned will keep calm on the issue and make joint efforts to safeguard the overall situation of peace and stability on the peninsula,” he added.
The DPRK successfully launched a satellite into orbit earlier Wednesday, the country’s official KCNA news agency reported.
“The DPRK is entitled to the peaceful use of outer space, but that right is currently restrained by relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” Hong said, adding that the DPRK, as a member of the United Nations, is obliged to observe the Security Council resolutions.
In response to a question on “what action the Security Council should take,” Hong said the Chinese side holds that the Security Council’s response should be “prudent and moderate” and conducive to maintaining the overall peace and stability of the peninsula instead of escalating tensions there.
DPRK state media reported on 12 December that journalists based in Pyongyang were given a tour of the General Satellite Control and Command Center. The center was described as “a combined base for observing and controlling satellite of Kwangmyo’ngso’ng series and a hub for scientific researches essential for the development of the national economy and improvement of people’s living standard including earth observation and communications.” The invited journalists “were briefed on the fact that the DPRK manufactured the second version of satellite Kwangmyo’nggso’ng-3 and carrier rocket U’nha-3 on its own efforts and by its technology and successfully launched the satellite, true to the last instructions of leader Kim Jong Il” and “looked round the general control and command room.” The journalists also “watched a video showing carrier rocket U’nha-3 putting the satellite into orbit” and “heard in great excitement signals of immortal revolutionary hymns “Song of General Kim Il Sung” and “Song of General Kim Jong Il” transmitted from the satellite.”
The next likely DPRK-based events linked to the success of the U’nha-3 launch will be Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) and members of the DPRK central leadership attending a commemorative photo-op session with the technicians, experts and other personnel who participated in the launch, as well as a celebratory mass rally in Pyongyang.
South Korea media reports that Kim Jong Il’s yacht and two luxury ships were relocated from the DPRK’s east coast to the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang in a 2800 km (1,739 mile) journey over sea and land during late October 2012. Yonhap, citing South Korean (ROK) government officials, reported on 7 December (Friday) that at the end of October, Kim Jong Il’s Azimut yacht departed the eastern port city of Wo’nsan, Kangwo’n Province. The ships traveled south around the Korean Peninsula and made their way to Namp’o. The yacht was then placed on customized railway cars for the 48 km (30 miles) journey to Pyongyang. In order to transport the yacht from Namp’o to Pyongyang electricity poles were demolished and relocated, and parts of the railway lines were reconstructed.
After the late DPRK supreme leader’s remains are prepared for public display at Ku’msusan, Kim Jong Il’s yacht will be part of a public exhibition of his possessions in a similar fashion to those of his father, the late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung. KJI enjoyed spending time on his pleasure boats. When he was in Wo’nsan or Hamhu’ng, South Hamgyo’ng Province, he enjoyed fishing and party excursions as well as working vacations on his yacht. His last known yachting vacation occurred in August 2011, prior to his departing for his visit to the Russian Far East and China later that month.