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Kim Jong Un Visits Songdowon International Children’s Camp (revised)

5 Jul
Kim Jong Un tours the Songdowon International Children's Camp in Wo'nsan, Kangwo'n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours the Songdowon International Children’s Camp in Wo’nsan, Kangwo’n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 6 July (Sunday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited Songdowon International Children’s Camp in Wo’nsan, Kangwo’n Province.  Attending his visit to the camp were Han Kwang Sang (Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Finance and Accounting Department), Lt. Gen. Ma Won Chun (Director of the NDC Design Department and deputy [vice] director of the WPK Finance and Accounting Department) and Kim Yo Jong (Deputy [vice] Director of the WPK Organization Guidance Department and KJU’s sister).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his guidance and observation of an island landing drill by the three service branches of the Korean People’s Army.

KJU toured various sites at the camp.  He looked at a waterside and wading pool and remarked that the “longer he watched it, the more wonderful it looked, adding children would like it.”  According to KCNA he said “I am very pleased to see it as it was made by our own efforts and with our own technique. It looks nice with the brand of ‘Taedonggang’ ” and  “appreciated its successful installing, instructing officials to let the next-term campers fully enjoy it.  At a dive tour he “told officials to ensure a proper filtering of water so that the outdoor wading pool may be full of clean water.”  KJU toured a house of mirrors and “was pleased to see the number of playing grounds for children increasing at the camp day by day.” He also remarked that “this cheerful laughter of children would instill the conviction of victory and optimism into our people.”

Waterslides and swimming area at Songdowon International Children's Camp (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Waterslides and swimming area at Songdowon International Children’s Camp (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours the construction of Songdowon Railway Station.  Also seen in attendance is Director of the NDC Design Department Ma Won Chun (left) and WPK Finance and Accounting Department Director Han Kwang Sang (right) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours the construction of Songdowon Railway Station. Also seen in attendance is Director of the NDC Design Department Ma Won Chun (left) and WPK Finance and Accounting Department Director Han Kwang Sang (right) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un poses for a commemorative photograph with managers, teachers, functionaries and other employees of Songdowon International Children's Camp (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un poses for a commemorative photograph with managers, teachers, functionaries and other employees of Songdowon International Children’s Camp (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un also visited an aquarium at the camp and was “pleased that species and numbers of rare fishes including shark increased.”  During a tour of the beach, according to KCNA “he told officials to provide the camp with sailboats so that campers may enjoy marine sports.”

He also looked at the construction of a railway station designated for the camp’s use and said “now that direct train service is available for campers and arrangements have been made for its operation, it is necessary to build the station well to suit the nature of its service, while providing the best convenience of the campers.”  KJU also underscored “the need to manage well the camp which was built by the party with much effort” and issued tasks “to be fulfilled to manage and operate it.”  At the end of his visit he posed for a commemorative photo with with the camp’s managers and employees.

The railway station reported as being “under construction” is possibly renovation work at a station used by KJU’s father, late leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).  This railway station sits across a canal from the Kim Family’s Wo’nsan residential compound.  KJU has generally favored availing himself of exclusive roads and tunnels, as well as airplanes, to travel around the country, it’s likely he has foregone traveling by rail, thus reducing the need for an exclusive railway station to travel to the Wo’nsan compound (other members of the Kim Family and DPRK elites travel to the compound by car).  On the other hand, he may have ordered a new railway station to be constructed as part of the renovation of Songdowon International Children’s Camp.  If that is the case then it is highly likely the station was constructed on the same railway line on which the VIP station sits.

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(Photo: Google image).

View of the VIP Railway Station and Songdowon International Children's Camp in Wo'nsan, Kangwo'n Province (Photo: Google image).

View of the VIP Railway Station and Songdowon International Children’s Camp in Wo’nsan, Kangwo’n Province (Photo: Google image).

Han Kwang Sang Affirmed as KWP Department Director

25 Sep
Han Kwang Sang (annotated) attends Kim Jong Un's recent visit to the Ryugyo'ng Dental Hospital (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Han Kwang Sang (annotated) attends Kim Jong Un’s recent visit to the Ryugyo’ng Dental Hospital (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media has identified central party finance and accounting cadre Han Kwang Sang as a Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Department Director.  In a 23 September (Monday) report about Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visit to the construction of the Ryugyo’ng Dental Hospital in Pyongyang, Han was identified as “department director of the Central Committee of the WPK [KWP].”  KCNA did not disclose what department Han is directing, but it is highly likely he is serving as head of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department where has served as senior deputy (1st vice) director since 2010.  In late June an unnamed ROK Government source told Yonhap that Han had been appointed department director in May 2012.

The KWP Finance and Accounting Department manages the finances of the party and those of the Kim Family.  It also manages logistics and supplies for departments, offices, sections, etc., in the KWP Central Committee (i.e. the central party) and is responsible for the payroll and the distribution of benefits and perks to central party employees.  Staff of the Finance and Accounting Department also work as domestic, technical and logistical staff at residential compounds for the Kim Family and other DPRK elites, and the department is also responsible for supplying furniture, building materials, appliances and foodstuffs to the DPRK’s VIP compounds.  The Finance and Accounting Department owns a series of hotels, restaurants, factories and shops (both within the country and located abroad) which generate revenues for the party.  The department has taken a leading role in the development, opening and management of new restaurants, shopping centers and factories in and around Pyongyang since 2009.  According to Kyodo News Office #38, which had been subordinate to the Finance and Accounting Department, was consolidated into a larger entity called “the Moranbong Bureau,” under the DPRK Cabinet.  If this report is accurate then Han Kwang Sang had a leading role in the consolidation. The department links directly with the Guard Command and Kim Jong Un’s executive office in the National Defense Commission.  It is unclear what role the department, or Han Kang Sang, has in the rumored establishment of a powerful KWP Department of Economy.

Graphic of key organizations in the KWP Finance and Accounting Department (Photo: NK Leadership Watch)

Graphic of key organizations in the KWP Finance and Accounting Department (Photo: NK Leadership Watch)

Han’s Call Order in DPRK state media

Between April 2012 and May 2012 the order in which Han Kwang Sang’s name was listed in KCNA reports and called in state radio and television broadcasts appeared with other central party department directors and was listed or called ahead of senior deputy and deputy directors.  At Kim Jong Un’s field inspection of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Unit # 655 in April 2012 Han Kwang Sang was listed between Kim Kyong Ok (Senor Deputy Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department) and Ri Jae Il (Senor Deputy Director of the KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department).  When Han next appeared in state media at Kim Jong Un’s May 2012 visit to the Central Zoo, he was listed after Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department) and ahead of Ri Jae Il.  In August 2012, in a news item on Kim Jong Un’s visit to Haemaji Restaurant, Han Kwang Sang was listed after Han Kwang Bok (Director of the KWP Science and Education Department) and before Kim Kyong Ok.  At a visit later the same day, Han was listed between Paek Se Pong, Chairman of the Second Economy Commission [Second Economic Committee] which is equivalent to KWP Department Director, and Han Kwang Bok.

Kim Jong Un Attends Soccer Game Prior to Liberation Day

14 Aug
Kim Jong Un attends a men's football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot'onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013, one day ahead of Liberation Day (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un attends a men’s football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot’onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013, one day ahead of Liberation Day (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of a men's football (soccer) game between the Yongaksan and Pot'onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of a men’s football (soccer) game between the Yongaksan and Pot’onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a men’s football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot’onggang teams at Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August (Wednesday).  Also attending the game were Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau members and alternates including Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission, Chairman of the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission  and Director of the KWP Administration Department), Col. Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary and Kim Jong Un’s aunt), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly), Kang Sok Ju (DPRK Vice Premier), Gen. Kim Won Hong (Minister of State Security), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Director of International Affairs), Kim P’yong-hae (KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), Ro Tu Chol (DPRK Vice Premier and Chairman of the State Planning Commission), Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of People’s Security) and Jo Yon Jun (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), along with “members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, leading officials of the support organizations for various sports events, officials of the party, armed forces and power organs, working people’s organizations, the Cabinet, ministries and national institutions, those in the sports field, sportspersons, working people from all walks of life and school youth and children in the city.”  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to the construction of two apartment towers earmarked for Kim Il Sung University science faculty and researchers.

The game began with a kick-off from the Pot’onggang Team.  According to KCNA, “Ryongaksan Team made attempts to score goals through flank attack and short passes which helped a forward make strong kick 16 m from goal mouth, scoring the first goal at around 33rd minute of the first half” and “when the Pot’onggang Team had a chance of penalty kick, its forward scored a goal through his skillful kick at around 36th minute of the first half.”  The game was tied at halftime.  In the second half “back of the Ryongaksan Team made a smart heading, scoring a goal at around 11th minute of the second half.”  The Ryongaksan Team beat the Pot’onggang Team 2-1.  According to KCNA, after the game Kim Jong Un “expressed great satisfaction over the nice match and congratulated the players on their success.”

New Director of Party Finance and Accounting Department (revised)

24 Jul
Han Kwang Sang (standing behind KJU, L) has been appointed director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/Rodong Sinmun file photo).

Han Kwang Sang (standing behind KJU, L) has been appointed director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/Rodong Sinmun file photo).

According to ROK media, citing anonymous sources and observations in DPRK state media, Han Kwang Sang has been promoted to director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Finance and Accounting Department.  The Finance and Accounting Department is part of the central party apparatus which manages the finances of the party and the Kim Family.  It also is responsible for the payroll and material lives of party officials and employees.

From 2009 to 2013 Han served as the department’s senior deputy (1st Vice) director, as the nominal head of Office #38 which manages the Kim Family’s finances.  He made his first observed appearance in January 2010, when he accompanied late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) on a guidance tour of the renovation of the Hyangsan Hotel.  His public appearances traveling with Kim Jong Il increased after the succession of Kim Jong Un was widely publicized in September 2010, even though his attendance was not always noted state media reporting.  Han has been a fairly routine member of Kim Jong Un’s entourage during his visits and inspections around the country.

Han Kwang Sang (annotated) attends Kim Jong Il's (C) January 2010 guidance tour of the Hyangsan Hotel.  Also seen in attendance is KWP Deputy Department Director and architect Ma Won Chun (R) (Photo: KCNA)

Han Kwang Sang (annotated) attends Kim Jong Il’s (C) January 2010 guidance tour of the Hyangsan Hotel. Also seen in attendance is KWP Deputy Department Director and architect Ma Won Chun (R) (Photo: KCNA)

Han Kwang Sang (standing, 3rd R) attended late leader Kim Jong Il's meeting with PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai, held  on 31 October 2011 (Photo: PRC Embassy in the DPRK).

Han Kwang Sang (standing, 3rd R) attended late leader Kim Jong Il’s meeting with PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai, held on 31 October 2011 (Photo: PRC Embassy in the DPRK).

Yonhap News Agency quoted an unnamed official in a 21 July (Sunday) report about Han’s promotion who said “Han Kwang-sang, first vice director of the Finance and Accounting Department, who emerged with the appearance of Kim Jong Un, looks to have been promoted to director of the Finance and Accounting Department around May of last year.”  Yonhap also used the order in which officials who accompany the leader are called or listed in state media reports, noting that Han was previously called after Kim Kyong Ok, Senior Deputy (1st Vice) Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department.  A ROK government official told Yonhap that”if Han Kwang-sang is introduced before Kim Kyo’ng-ok, he is highly likely to be at the director level,” adding that “there is no first vice director who is introduced before Kim Kyo’ng-ok, first vice director of the party’s Organization and Guidance Department, who has more power than passable WPK directors.”

According to Yonhap‘s report notes that the Finance and Accounting Department has been without a formal director since the removal from office of Ri Pong Su following the 2004 death of his chief patron Ko Yong Hui, Kim Jong Il’s fourth wife and mother of current leader Kim Jong Il.  Ri, an alias, replaced Ro Myong Gun (Ro Myo’ng-kun) who had served as director of Finance and Accounting since the department was established on Kim Jong Il’s order in 1983.  Since Ri Pong Su’s dismissal, and given individual and organizational behavior in the DPRK’s political culture, Kim Jong Il himself probably assumed the directorship and ran the department through its deputy directors.  During 2003 to 2012, deputy directors (with different portfolios) of the Finance and Accounting Department have included Han Kwang Sang, Jon Il Chun, Kim Tong Un and Ri Kwang Gun (currently head of the Joint Venture and Investment Commission).  Kim Hyo was also a cadre in the department, as of one KJI’s main accountants, and his daughter Kim Ok, KJI’s widow as his 5th wife and technical secretary, had close ties to the department (and access to its safes).  The change in leadership of the Finance and Accounting Department may be tied to rumors that Kim Hyo and Kim Ok were recently dismissed from office.

A New Party Economic Department?

17 Jul
A 15 April 2012 satellite image shows the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee Office Complex #1 in central Pyongyang.  RFA, according to anonymous sources, reports that a new Department of the Economy was established in June 2013 to manage economic policies and personnel.  The departments mentioned in this posting that are seen in this image are: the Organization Guidance Department (1) the Propaganda and Agitation Department (2) the Administration Department (7), Economic Policy Control and Finance and Planning Departments (14), Office #39 (15), Office #38 (16), the Machine-Building Industry Department (17), the Light Industry Department (19) and the Finance and Accounting Department (20) (Photo: Digital Globe).

A 15 April 2012 satellite image shows the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee Office Complex #1 in central Pyongyang. RFA, according to anonymous sources, reports that a new Department of the Economy was established in June 2013 to manage economic policies and personnel. The departments mentioned in this posting seen in this image are: the Organization Guidance Department (1) the Propaganda and Agitation Department (3) the Administration Department (7), Economic Policy Control and Finance and Planning Departments (14), Office #39 (15), Office #38 (16), the Machine-Building Industry Department (17), the Light Industry Department (19) and the Finance and Accounting Department (20) (Photo: Digital Globe).

Radio Free Asia, citing two anonymous sources based in Chagang and Yanggang Provinces, reports that the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] created a new department in June within the Central Committee to manage economic, financial and trace policies.  The so-called Department of Economy is part of the central party apparatus in Pyongyang and has branch departments within the KWP’s Provincial Committee system.  The department is rumored to be an eventual merger of several of the KWP Central Committee’s economy and planning related departments.  According to RFA the Department of Economy now has sole control over the appointment of economic and finance officials to the DPRK Cabinet and has the power to create, abolish or consolidate domestic and foreign trading corporations.  The new department also has a broad license in formulating and implementing economic policy.  Concentrating nearly all policy and personnel control into one central party department may reduce bureaucratic encroachment among party and government agencies, corruption (through the establishment of fraudulent trading companies and misappropriation of funds and resources) and prevent well-connected senior cadres using their personal relationships with the center to bypass formal control channels in establishing  trading companies.

One RFA source links the department to an economic restructuring policy announced internally in June 2012 (the so-called 28 June Policy) claims that “establishing the Department of Economy is related to the so-called ‘reformed economic management system’. . .it means the Party never wants to lose its control over the economy, even though the ‘reformed system’ takes place everywhere.”  The word “reform,” said with a positive connotation, is no longer the conversation-stopper among DPRK elites and policymakers that it used to be.  Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) used the word “reform” in a long public letter published in Rodong Sinmun on 1 May 2013.  The letter (which can be read in its entirety with a textual note at NCNK) was a message of thanks to DPRK citizens and security personnel who contributed to the renovation of the park and grounds around the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.  Kim Jong Un wrote that “the functionaries and the working people of the cabinet and its committees, ministries, central organs, the City of Pyongyang, and each of the provincial people’s committees should not only make great reform and a great leap in the whole range of the economy, including the four leading sectors, which are the locomotives of the people’s economy, and agriculture and light industry, which are the primary assault targets of the construction of an economically powerful state, but actively contribute to achieving a decisive turnabout in the improvement of the people’s living standards.”

It is not clear which Party Central Committee (central party) departments will be consolidated into the Department of Economy.  Looking at the relevant departments in the Central Committee apparatus the Department of Economy could absorb the Finance and Planning Department, the Light Industry Department and the Economic Policy Inspection Department.  One might put question marks in the marginalia for two other economy-related central party departments, the Finance and Accounting Department and the Machine-Building Industry Department.

The Finance and Accounting Department manages party finances and the party economy (sometimes called the Third Economy).  It includes Office #39 and Office #38 (poetically called “Kim Jong Il’s safe).  It is possible that the offices and sections that manage the Kim Family’s finances and household(s) purchases have been transferred into the DPRK National Defense Commission Secretariat, where Kim Jong Un established his executive office (his Personal Secretariat).  Other offices and sections managing non-Kim party finances and resources may become part of the Department of Economy.

The Machine-Building Industry Department [MBID] (formerly known as the Munitions Industry Department) manages the DPRK’s conventional and advanced weapons programs and machine-building and machine tools industries.  The Second Economy Commission (arms manufacturers and producers) and the Second Academy of Natural Science (arms science and technology R &D) are nominally part of the MBID.   The MBID might be exempt from merging into the Department of the Economy.  However, another possibility is that the MBID’s various offices, sections and agencies involved in conventional and advanced weapons may be formally transferred to the National Defense Commission (which some Pyongyang watchers have long suspected).  Offices and sections linked to the Ministry of Machine Building and the civilian economy might then be absorbed by the Department of the Economy.

According to RFA‘s sources the Department of Economy is expected to become one of the Party Central Committee’s control tower departments, along with the Organization Guidance Department [OGD], the Propaganda and Agitation Department and the Administration Department.  One source anticipated that the Department of Economy could become “the strongest department in the Party,” which could incite a power competition among different patronage networks and state, party and army organizations seeking to establish businesses

Personalities and Power Dynamics

There have been two occasions during the past 20 years in which the Party Central Committee consolidated its economy and trade related departments.  Around 1993 the Light Industry Department and the Planning Department were folded into the Economic Policy Inspection Department under one director, Kim Kyong Hui (sister of late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il and paternal aunt of current leader Kim Jong Un).  This arrangement lasted until 1997 and the Light Industry Department and the Planning Department reverted to individual departments.

In 2005 the KWP Agricultural Department, the Planning Department and the Finance Department were consolidated into the Finance and Planning Department (a.k.a. Financial Planning Department).  Then-Chairman of the State Planning Commission Pak Nam Gi migrated from the semi-autonomous planning commission in the DPRK Cabinet into the central party to become director of the Finance and Planning Department.  In addition to holding a portfolio for economic affairs, Pak supervised a restructuring process in the central party in which numerous cadres and staff members were made redundant or migrated to the National Defense Commission.  This may have drawn a target on Pak’s back, long before the 2009 currency reform, and in February 2010 Pak was executed by firing squad.  In June 2010 Pak was formally replaced by Hong Sok Hyong.  During the 3rd Party Conference on 28 September 2010 Hong was elected to the KWP Secretariat and reappointed director of the Planning and Finance Department.  Hong was later removed from office in June 2011, having headed Finance and Planning for only a year.  His eventual replacement, Kwak Pom Gi was later appointed to concurrent positions on the KWP Secretariat and director of the Finance and Planning Department during the 4th Party Conference in April 2012.

Hong Sok Hyong (1) served as Director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department from June 2010 to June 2011.  Pak Nam Gi (2) oversaw the establishment of the KWP Finance and Planning Department and served as its director from 2005 to 2010.  They are seen attending a guidance tour with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in North Hamgyo'ng Province in the summer of 2009 (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/KCNA file photo).

Hong Sok Hyong (1) served as Director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department from June 2010 to June 2011. Pak Nam Gi (2) oversaw the establishment of the KWP Finance and Planning Department and served as its director from 2005 to 2010. They are seen attending a guidance tour with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in North Hamgyo’ng Province in the summer of 2009 (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/KCNA file photo).

Current director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department Kwak Pom Gi (L), KWP Secretary and department director Kim Kyong Hui (C) and current DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (R).  From 1993 to 1997 Pak served as Madame Kim's principal deputy when three KWP Central Committee economic departments were consolidated.  This consolidation may serve as the model for the recently established Department of Economy (Photos: KCNA/Rodong Sinmun).

Current director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department Kwak Pom Gi (L), KWP Secretary and department director Kim Kyong Hui (C) and current DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (R). From 1993 to 1997 Pak served as Madame Kim’s principal deputy when three KWP Central Committee economic departments were consolidated. This consolidation may serve as the model for the recently established Department of Economy (Photos: KCNA/Rodong Sinmun).

Given the violent end one director met and the quick turnover between the two succeeding directors, the Finance and Planning Department may be a fundamentally flawed institution.   It might have proven ineffective in fulfilling its mission or was a buzzing hive of corruption.  Kwak Pom Gi appears to be in good standing in the leadership.  He was elected the Chairman of the Budget Committee of the DPRK’s unicameral legislature, the Supreme People’s Assembly in September 2012 and his last observed appearance was his attendance at Kim Jong Un’s visit to the renovation of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in July 2013.  It is possible that Kwak is a key player in the rumored establishment of the Department of Economy.

Another mover and shaker in the creation of the Department of Economy is most likely DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju.  Reappointed Premier in April 2013, Pak has taken over a DPRK Cabinet with greater involvement in the country’s economy.  In a report on the DPRK Cabinet’s 2nd plenary meeting in July 2013 there was a call to “further enhancing the responsibility and role of the cabinet and the functionaries of economic guidance organs” and the Cabinet meeting “emphasized the need to resolve all issues that arise in the economic work by concentrating them on the cabinet according to the demands of the cabinet system, the system centered on the cabinet; the need to establish a strong discipline and order of unconditionally executing the cabinet’s decisions and instructions; and the need for economic guidance functionaries to make sure that leaps and innovations take place in every sentry post, while taking the lead in guiding the work of their respective sectors and units.”  This may indicate that the Department of Economy will provide the political backing for the Cabinet’s role in economic affairs.  With Pak Pong Ju as the country’s premier, the new party department and the DPRK Government may work shoulder to shoulder.  Pak Pong Ju, it should be noted, was Kim Kyong Hui’s principal deputy in the Economic Policy Inspection Department from 1993 to 1997 during a previous consolidation of three Party Central Committee economic departments.

Kim Jong Un Visits Mushroom Farm

16 Jul
Kim Jong Un tours a mushroom farm constructed by farm #1116, subordinate to KPA Unit #534 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours a mushroom farm constructed by farm #1116, subordinate to KPA Unit #534 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 15 July (Monday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited a mushroom farm constructed by unit #1116, subordinate to Korean People’s Army [KPA] Unit #534.  Among those attending the visit with him were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Col. Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Col. Gen. Jon Chang Bok (1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Han Kwang Sang (Deputy [Vice] Director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department), Kim Kyong Ok (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department with the portfolio for military affairs), Hwang Pyong So (Deputy Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department) and Ma Won Chun (Deputy [Vice] Director of the KWP Administration Department).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in Pyongyang.

Kim Jong Un tours a mushroom farm constructed by an agricultural unit subordinate to KPA Unit #534 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours a mushroom farm constructed by an agricultural unit subordinate to KPA Unit #534 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours a mushroom farm recently constructed by a unit subordinate to KPA Unit #534 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours a mushroom farm recently constructed by a unit subordinate to KPA Unit #534 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un issues instructions to senior KPA officials and commanders of KPA Unit #534 during a tour of a mushroom farm recently constructed by the unit (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un issues instructions to senior KPA officials and commanders of KPA Unit #534 during a tour of a mushroom farm recently constructed by the unit (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un began his trip with a briefing about the mushroom farm’s construction in front of a map of the farm.  According to KCNA Kim Jong Un said, “The mushroom cultivation grounds look very nice and I am pleased to see them” and “praised the unit for having built the indoor cultivation grounds by a dry method of construction through the introduction of latest technology for making the mushroom production intensive while using a minimum area for production in a matter of a few months, in particular.”  He enquired about the production of capacity of the mushroom farm and said he “was pleased among other things that the farm is capable of reaping a high and secure harvest of mushroom even in a small area by producing mushroom all the year round unlike arch-style mushroom cultivation grounds.”  He visited the farm’s control room and, according to KCNA, “was satisfied to learn that the farm has automated a monitoring and control system whereby the growth of mushrooms at every cultivation ground is monitored and production is commanded in real time.”  He toured the cultivation area and said “that production can be increased when fungi are cultivated by an industrial method” and that “it is good that the farm produces mushroom at both arch-style mushroom grounds and indoor cultivation grounds built by a dry method of construction” then called ” forarmy and society to build mushroom farms in a big way by following the example set by this farm.”

Kim Jong Un also remarked that “it is necessary to thoroughly implement the behest of President Kim Il Sung, who called for turning the country into a world famous mushroom producer by building such mushroom farms in different parts of the country” and “underlining the need to provide a standard design in order to build modern mushroom farms and scrupulously organize a work for introducing mushroom cultivation technique and experience, he took measures to this end.”  After his tour of the mushroom farm, Kim Jong Un attended a commemorative photo-op with the farm’s managers and employees.

Kim Jong Un Visits War Museum

11 Jul
Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials accompanying him during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials accompanying him during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation (Korean) War Museum which will reopen soon.  He was accompanied by Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier) VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Kim Ki Nam (Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary of Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary of Education and Science and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Director of International Affairs), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim P’yo’ng-hae (KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Director of Planning and Finance), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), Han Kwang Sang (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department), Ri Ch’ae-il (Deputy [vice] Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Pak Tae Song (KWP Department Deputy [vice] Director) and Col. Gen. Jo Kyong Chol (Chief of the Military Security Command).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to Ku’msuan Palace on 8 July to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the death of his paternal grandfather, late DPRK founder and President Kim Il Sung.

View of the exterior of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and memorial tower in Pyongyang (Photos: KCNA)

View of the exterior of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and memorial tower in Pyongyang (Photos: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un and senior party and government officials tours the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un and senior party and government officials tours the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

According to KCNA the museum was “newly built as required by the 21st century and its area and the Monument to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War turned into a general education center to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War under the grand plan and energetic guidance of Kim Jong Un, who has successfully carried forward the ever-victorious history and tradition started on Mt. Paektu.”  Kim Jong Un toured different exhibitions and galleries in the museum and was briefed about the various artifacts, images and other items on display.  He praised the KPA construction personnel who worked on the museums renovation.  He said “the ceremony for opening the museum is planned to be held grandly” and “noted the museum is a treasure-house of the country, a theatre showcasing confrontation with the U.S. and an important base for anti-U.S. education.”  Kim Jong Un also said that “the excellent rebuilding of the museum and the improvement of the surrounding landscape will contribute to educating the servicepersons and people in President Kim Il Sung’s Chuch’e-oriented military idea, anti-imperialist revolutionary idea and outstanding commanding arts, and helping them carry forward the fighting spirit and soul of the forerunners” and “called for making good preparations for the opening and showing the fixed will of Songun Korea to always emerge victorious by carrying forward the tradition of victory displayed by the preceding generations.”

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