To mark the 53rd anniversary of Military-First (So’ngun) Revolutionary Leadership, DPRK state media aired another installment of the documentary film series General Kim Jong Il’s Matchless Patriotic Defense of the Country. The film splices together a variety of footage of Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) conducting field inspections of Korean People’s Army [KPA] units, KPA economic activity and arms and munitions factories. During scenes of his visits to arms factories, Kim Jong Il is shown touring an unknown weapons production facility during the early 2000s. In the scene KJI is shown standing next to a Nodong medium-range ballistic missile on a TEL (transporter-erector-launcher). Footage from the same visit also shows what is possibly the fabled KN-08 road mobile intercontinental ballistic missile. It is not clear where this visit occurred, although possibilities include one of the machine factories in Jagang (Chagang) Province, a building at the Sanum-dong Research Facility in northern Pyongyang, the Tae-sung Machine Factory outside Namp’o or some other factory under the Second Economy Commission (Second Economic Committee) or the Second Academy of Natural Sciences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The construction of the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang is part of Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) implemenation of his father’s, late leader Kim Jong Il, “behests” and part of KJI’s practice of indok politics. In February 2013 Kim Jong Un issued an instruction to the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and Korean People’s Army [KPA] personnel to construct the water park. The MPAF and KPA staged a meeting, led by Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, on 7 February 2013 at which it was “stressed the need to ensure the quality in construction on the highest level under the motto of taking responsibility for the safety of projects and guaranteeing their absolute quality for all eternity by overcoming difficulties and hardships with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in every work site for the country’s prosperity and the people’s happiness in the past.” The Munsu Wading Pool was listed a major project as part of “face-lifting” Pyongyang during a meeting of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau held in February.
During May 2013, Kim Jong Un visited the construction of the water park as part of a tour of construction projects in and around Pyongyang. DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju also visited the construction in May. VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department, has visited the water park’s construction twice with the first time being in February after ground was broken on the project, and in late June. The Munsu Wading Pool project has recently been included as part of the “Masikryo’ng Speed” campaign.
An official documentary film chronicling Kim Jong Un’s public activities in May 2013 provided greater detail about the Munsu Wading Pool’s design. A full-color poster of the design shows that the water park will have several swimming pools, a wave pool, a “lazy river” for inner tubing, an artificial waterfall, a tennis court, beach (sandy) volleyball court and other sports facilities. While the Munsu Wading Pool’s has a similar layout and design to other water parks elsewhere in the world, there are some areas of the park which will have distinct DPRK characteristics.
In planning the Munsu Wading Pool, the architects have borrowed at least one waterslide and several buildings found on the premises of the Kim family’s Ryo’ngso’ng (or Su’ngbo’p) residential compound in the Ryo’ngso’ng District in northern Pyongyang. The Ryo’ngso’ng compound is approximately 12.8 km (7.9 miles) north of central Pyongyang within the northern boundaries of the DPRK capital’s Inland Empire**. The compound includes one of Kim Jong Il’s private railway stations (including carriage repair and maintenance facilities), a C2 facility, a C4ISR UGF (call it a DPRK leadership panic room), a horse racing track, bridleways, a rifle range, numerous guest houses and private residences for DPRK elites and several large, luxurious homes inhabited by members of the Kim family.
DPRK architects modeled one of the waterslides planned for Munsu Wading Pool on a tube slide found at the outdoor pool of the Ryo’ngso’ng residential compound. The Ryo’ngso’ng residential compound has undergone several renovations since Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011. Satellite imagery showed that construction work was under way in April 2012, with a crew expanding one of the large houses, demolishing part of a residence for Personal Secretariat staff and a convoy of dump trucks hauling materials and debris from the compound. Satellite images taken later in 2012 (and available through several online mapping resources such as Google Maps/Earth) showed that one house used by Kim Jong Il had been completely demolished. Interestingly, the 2012 renovation of the Ryo’ngso’ng compound included the removal of the tube waterslide and the outdoor swimming pool. This raises the possibility that the water slide was disassembled and repurposed for the Munsu Wading Pool or another amusement park or alpamare in Pyongyang.
The Munsu Wading Pool’s design also envisions two pyramid-shaped structures located along the water park’s southern perimeter. The two pyramid-shaped structures at Munsu, topped by two silver square structures, are a smaller, less grand versions of two pyramids at the Ryo’ngso’ng compound. According to several accounts from people who visited or worked at the Ryo’ngso’ng compound, the two pyramids house bathing, spa and sauna facilities. It is possible that the twin pyramids in the Munsu park’s design will serve a similar purpose.
South and east of the twin pyramids at Munsu Wading Pool, the architects have planned several rectangular and circular structures. These buildings might include patios, restaurants or snack bars, locker rooms (dressing rooms), indoor recreation facilities and the water park’s administrative and technical offices. These buildings lining the water park’s southern perimeter have a highly similar design and are an expansion of the Ryo’ngso’ng compound’s main banquet hall and entertainment facilities.
There are a few implications (take aways, if you like) to the core leadership approving a design based on one of the Kim Family’s “special pavilions.” It fits an overall pattern, which began when Kim Jong Il was still alive in which food factories, shops and other aspects of the county’s so-called court economy are either publicized or DPRK citizens (a relative term when applied to Pyongyangites) are given access to them. It is highly likely that the designs for the Munsu Wading Pool came from a branch of the Paektusan Academy of Architecture.
**The Pyongyang Inland Empire is a term I coined in a conversation with a close colleague when discussing Kim Jong Un’s tendency to remain primarily in Pyongyang during most of 2012 and part of 2013. It refers to sections of Pyongyang running from the northern outskirts of the city (south of the Pyongyang Airport) south to the area around Ku’msusan Palace then through the city centre (KIS Square, central party complex) and west into the Mangyo’ngdae District with parts of it sitting east on either side of the Taedong River in Samso’k District and the Taedonggang District. It includes a series of private roads, the country’s “secret subway” and includes a network of underground residential facilities (the Suryo’ng bunkers) which Kim Jong Il used from time to time. In addition to underground facilities and special roads, the Pyongyang Inland Empire is highly secure and protects the country’s leader (and other elites) behind four dedicated layers of security personnel (Guard Command –> Ministry of People’s Security –> Pyongyang Defense Command –> III Army Corps).
DPRK state media published a statement (tamhwa) on 30 March (Saturday) from “the government, political parties and organizations of the DPRK.” Unlike the recent volley of statements, or indeed most communications published and broadcasted in state media, the 30 March 2013 statement was not issued under the name of any specific organization (s). The statement is not cited as the work of the DPRK National Defense Commission, the KPA Supreme Command or Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces from the DPRK national security community, it was not an individual or joint statement of the Foreign Ministry, the DPRK Cabinet or the Supreme People’s Assembly, it was not linked to any specific political parties such as the Korean Workers’ Party, the Ch’o'ndoist Ch’o'ngu Party or the Korean Social Democratic Party and it was not issued in the name of various organizations such as the National Peace Committee of Korea oe Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea, the Korean Democratic Women’s Union or the Kim Il Sung Youth League.
While no organization or elite cohort has claimed neither provenance nor authorship of the statement, it may foreshadow the “important important issue for victoriously advancing the Korean revolution and make a drastic turn in accomplishing the Chuch’e revolutionary cause under the banner of the great Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism” which is planned for the upcoming KWP Central Committee plenary meeting (plenum), which will be held on Sunday (31 March) one day ahead of the 7th session of the 12th SPA on 1 April (Monday).
The statement, according to KCNA:
The moves of the U.S. imperialists to violate the sovereignty of the DPRK and encroach upon its supreme interests have entered an extremely grave phase. Under this situation, the dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un, brilliant commander of Mt. Paektu, convened an urgent operation meeting on the performance of duty of the Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People’s Army for firepower strike and finally examined and ratified a plan for firepower strike.
The important decision made by him is the declaration of a do-or-die battle to provide an epochal occasion for putting an end to the history of the long-standing showdown with the U.S. and opening a new era. It is also a last warning of justice served to the U.S., south Korean group and other anti-reunification hostile forces. The decision reflects the strong will of the army and people of the DPRK to annihilate the enemies.
Now the heroic service personnel and all other people of the DPRK are full of surging anger at the U.S. imperialists’ reckless war provocation moves, and the strong will to turn out as one in the death-defying battle with the enemies and achieve a final victory of the great war for national reunification true to the important decision made by Kim Jong Un.
The Supreme Command of the KPA in its previous statement solemnly declared at home and abroad the will of the army and people of the DPRK to take decisive military counteraction to defend the sovereignty of the country and the dignity of its supreme leadership as regards the war moves of the U.S. and south Korean puppets that have reached the most extreme phase.
Not content with letting B-52 make sorties into the sky over south Korea in succession despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK, the U.S. made B-2A stealth strategic bomber and other ultra-modern strategic strike means fly from the U.S. mainland to south Korea to stage a bombing drill targeting the DPRK. This is an unpardonable and heinous provocation and an open challenge.
By taking advantage of the U.S. reckless campaign for a nuclear war against the DPRK, the south Korean puppets vociferated about “preemptive attack” and “strong counteraction” and even “strike at the commanding forces”, openly revealing the attempt to destroy monuments symbolic of the dignity of the DPRK’s supreme leadership.
This clearly shows that the U.S. brigandish ambition for aggression and the puppets’ attempt to invade the DPRK have gone beyond the limit and their threats have entered the reckless phase of an actual war from the phase of threat and blackmail.
The prevailing grim situation more clearly proves that the Supreme Command of the KPA was just when it made the judgment and decision to decisively settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists and south Korean puppets by dint of the arms of Military-First politics (So’ngun), because time when words could work has passed.
Now they are openly claiming that the B-2A stealth strategic bombers’ drill of dropping nuclear bombs was “not to irritate the north” but “the defensive one”. The U.S. also says the drill is “to defend the interests of its ally”. However, it is nothing but a lame pretext to cover up its aggressive nature, evade the denunciation at home and abroad and escape from the DPRK’s retaliatory blows.
The era when the U.S. resorted to the policy of strength by brandishing nuclear weapons has gone.
It is the resolute answer of the DPRK and its steadfast stand to counter the nuclear blackmail of the U.S. imperialists with merciless nuclear attack and their war of aggression with just all-out war.
They should clearly know that in the era of Marshal Kim Jong Un, the greatest-ever commander, all things are different from what they used to be in the past.
The hostile forces will clearly realize the iron will, matchless grit and extraordinary mettle of the brilliant commander of Mt. Paektu that the earth cannot exist without Military-First (So’ngun) Korea.
Time has come to stage a do-or-die final battle.
The government, political parties and organizations of the DPRK solemnly declare as follows reflecting the final decision made by Kim Jong Un at the operation meeting of the KPA Supreme Command and the unanimous will of all service personnel and people of the DPRK who are waiting for a final order from him.
1.From this moment, the north-south relations will be put at the state of war and all the issues arousing between the north and the south will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations.
The state of neither peace nor war has ended on the Korean Peninsula.
Now that the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK have entered into an actual military action, the inter-Korean relations have naturally entered the state of war. Accordingly, the DPRK will immediately punish any slightest provocation hurting its dignity and sovereignty with resolute and merciless physical actions without any prior notice.
2. If the U.S. and the south Korean puppet group perpetrate a military provocation for igniting a war against the DPRK in any area including the five islands in the West Sea of Korea or in the area along the Military Demarcation Line, it will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.
It is self-evident that any military conflict on the Korean Peninsula is bound to lead to an all-out war, a nuclear war now that even U.S. nuclear strategic bombers in its military bases in the Pacific including Hawaii and Guam and in its mainland are flying into the sky above south Korea to participate in the madcap DPRK-targeted nuclear war moves.
The first strike of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will blow up the U.S. bases for aggression in its mainland and in the Pacific operational theatres including Hawaii and Guam and reduce not only its military bases in south Korea but the puppets’ ruling institutions including Chongwadae and puppet army’s bases to ashes at once, to say nothing of the aggressors and the provokers.
3. The DPRK will never miss the golden chance to win a final victory in a great war for national reunification.
This war will not be a three day-war but it will be a blitz war through which the KPA will occupy all areas of south Korea including Jeju Island at one strike, not giving the U.S. and the puppet warmongers time to come to their senses, and a three-dimensional war to be fought in the air, land and seas and on the front line and in the rear.
This sacred war of justice will be a nation-wide, all-people resistance involving all Koreans in the north and the south and overseas in which the traitors to the nation including heinous confrontation maniacs, warmongers and human scum will be mercilessly swept away.
No force on earth can break the will of the service personnel and people of the DPRK all out in the just great war for national reunification and of all other Koreans and overpower their might.
Holding in high esteem the peerlessly great men of Mt. Paektu, the Korean people will give vent to the pent-up grudge and realize their cherished desire and thus bring a bright day of national reunification and build the best power on this land without fail.
DPRK state media reported on 11 February (Monday) that the schoolchildren gave a Lunar New Year concert at Mangyo’ngdae Schoolchildren’s Palace on Sunday. Attending the performance from the central leadership were Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium President Kim Yong Nam, DPRK Cabinet Premier Choe Yong Rim, Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretaries Kim Ki Nam and Choe Tae Bok, NDC Vice Chairmen VMar Kim Yong Chun and Ri Yong Mu, SPA Presidium Vice President Yang Hyong Sop, DPRK Cabinet Vice Premier Kang Sok Ju along with “officials of party, armed forces and power organs, social organizations, ministries and national institutions, servicepersons of the Korean People’s Army and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces, officials in the fields of science, education, literature and arts, public health and media, persons of merits and Pyongyangites and “present there on invitation were the chief of the Pyongyang Mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front, overseas Koreans, and diplomatic envoys of different countries, representatives of international organizations and members of the military attaches corps here and their wives.” According to KCNA, Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department, VMar Choe Ryong Hae, attended the performance, but was not observed in photographs or film footage of the performance.
The schoolchildren began their performance “with prologue “We Make Lunar New Year’s Bow to Marshal Kim Jong Un.” They also performed “New Year’s Performance in Star Country,” “trio and chorus ‘We Are Happy under Care of Marshal Kim Il Sung,’” “duet and chorus ‘Let Us Sing Louder Song of General Kim Jong Il,’” “small chorus of immortal classic masterpiece ‘We Will Carry Forward the March That Started on Mt. Paektu,’” “piano and chorus ‘Let’s Learn for Thriving Korea,’” “Thank You Marshal Kim Jong Un,” “music and dance of Korean schoolchildren in Japan ‘Our country led by Marshal is best’” and “national instrumental music and song ‘Flower Gate of Happiness.’” According to KCNA, the ”performers highly praised the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as eternal sun who devoted their all to the rising generation, calling children as the king of the country” and “vividly depicted the bright appearance of schoolchildren growing up to be kid doctors, talents and soldiers under the blue sky of the country.”
DPRK state media reported during 7-9 February (Thursday-Saturday) that events commemorating the official 71st birthday of late leader Kim Jong Il, called the Day of the Shining Star, began in and around Pyongyang. On 7 February (Thursday), a 10-day nationwide film festival that will screen official documentary and feature films in Pyongyang and in the provinces. According to KCNA “all of them deal with the glorious revolutionary history of Kim Jong Il and his undying feats” and the films will include Under the Guidance of the Great Brilliant Commander, The Great Leadership for Pushing Back the Frontiers of Science and Technology, Shining Star Above Mt. Paektu, Legacy, White Gem, Wish and Comrade Kim Goes Flying. Ceremonies which opened the film festival were held in Pyongyang and provincial capital cities. The Pyongyang ceremony occurred at the People’s Palace of Culture on 7 February. It was attended by Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary and Director of the KWP Propaganda and Agitation [publicity and information] Department Kim Ki Nam, along with “ officials concerned, creators and artistes in the field of movie art and Pyongyangites.”
On 8 February (Friday) a photo exhibition titled ”They Were Always Together to Bring about the People’s Well-being” showing photographs of the country’s later founder and president, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un and “dealing with the feats the great Generalissimos who led all the Koreans to the road of independence and the great national unity and energetically worked for global peace and stability, friendship and solidarity among the peoples under the uplifted banner of independence against imperialism.” KWP Secretary Kim Ki Nam and Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium Vice President Yang Hyong Sop along with “officials concerned and people in the city” attended the opening ceremony.
Also, on 8 February (Friday) recipients of the Kim Jong Il Prize and Order of Kim Jong Il, based on 6 February 2013 decrees of the SPA Presidium, were publicized. The KJI Prize was presented to Kim Sang Ok for “a great contribution to the development of the nation’s science and technology by displaying intense loyalty to the party and the leader and devoting creative wisdom and enthusiasm” and the Kwangmyo’ng Encyclopedia because it “helps officials and people raise the levels of political theories and cultural knowledge as required by the building of a thriving socialist nation and the age of knowledge-based economy.”
The Order of Kim Jong Il was given to “units and officials, service persons and people made great contributions to bolstering up the national defense capabilities and building an economic giant through a dynamic drive for consolidating the political and ideological position of the Korean revolution as firm as a rock and devotedly carrying out the lines and policies of the Workers’ Party of Korea by rallying the broad masses close around the Party, true to the Military-First (So’ngun) revolutionary leadership of the Party.” Institutions receiving the Order of KJI were the Rakwo’n Machine Complex, the 5 March Youth Mine in Chagang Province, Kanggye U’nha Garment Factory and Migok Cooperative Farm. Among the individuals receiving the Order of KJI were Paek Kye Ryong (Chief Secretary of the Kangwo’n Provincial KWP Committee) and O Su Yong (Chief Secretary of the North Hamgyo’ng Provincial KWP Committee) along with several third-generation officials from the KWP, DPRK Government and KPA: Kim Chang Myong; Ro Kyong Jun; Choe Tae Il; Pak Cho Yong; Ryom Chi Gwon; Kang Kil Yong; Mi Chang Guk; Yun Ho Nam; U Tok Su; and. Ryom U Jun.
On 8 February (Friday) DPRK state media reported on the end of cooking contest held during 6-8 February. According to KCNA “competition was divided into the fields of public service and service of ministries and national institutions, hotels and provincial public catering and service. Present there were cooks and waitresses of 32 organizations” and “held by such methods of experts and masses’ judgment of preparations for cooking, sanitation, dressing processes and taste.” On 9 February (Saturday) DPRK state media announced that the 22nd Paektusan (Mt. Paektu) Prize International Figure Skating Festival will be held during 15-17 February in Pyongyang to commemorate KJI’s birthday. According to KCNA the “is an annual event reflecting the unanimous desire and aspiration of the Korean people, world progressives and athletes to celebrate the birth anniversary of Kim Jong Il as the greatest holiday of the nation and holiday common to humankind” and “will bring together foreign and Korean skaters who proved successful in international and national contests. It will involve exhibition ice dances and pair and individual events.”
The events commemorating KJI’s birthday ceased what had been a slow news week in the state media. Much of the content targeting an external audience consisted on various essays and editorials focused on the country’s response to the passage of United Nations Security Resolution #2087 (2013), such as the possibility of a third nuclear test and what were described as “the firm resolution to take substantial and high-profile important state measures in view of the prevailing situation.” Content targeting an internal audience focused ongoing development efforts throughout the country, including the renovation of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation (Korean War) War Museum, and study tours of revolutionary historical battle sites by members of the Korean Children’s Union and the Kim Il Sung (Socialist) Youth League. For a few days, members of the central leadership appeared to have gone to ground, or at least to senior level meetings that were not reported in state media. On 8 February (Friday) a DPRK media outlet said the a third nuclear test was a matter of “the U.S. and hostile forces jumped to conclusions that the republic is planning the third nuclear test, citing their hypothesis and argument,” that any upcoming activities “are aimed at safeguarding its national interest, not at threatening anyone” and ”it remains to be seen what the important state measures are, though it is clear that any U.S. reactions to them may prove to be only irrevocable losses.”
Yonhap News Agency reported on 31 January (Thursday) that South Korean [ROK] “raised the alert level in front-line units amid speculations of a North Korean nuclear test and military provocation.” According to an anonymous South Korean government official “The Joint Chiefs of Staff has raised the alert level at front-line units. Therefore, all intelligence, operations and firepower units are operating in what is the equivalent of level two.” Given the wording in the report, it appear the anonymous source is an elected or political official. Yonhap also reported that “units along the border (including the North Limit Line) are also said to be on standby with firepower to counter any provocation from the North” and that a joint assessment found a “radiation detecting device was installed at Punggye-ri nuclear test site to measure the amount of leaking after a nuclear test.” A separate ROK government source “claimed, ‘We have detected what seems to be a command and control vehicle that could be used as remote detonator, so we are conducting in-depth analysis.”
CNN reported and cited US officials who said “We think they are preparing for a test. We are watching it all as closely as we can” with the caveat “One official explained the United States is not certain about the timing of a test because it would happen underground and the final preparations can’t be observed by satellite.But a level of activity has been seen at the site in recent days, including movement of people and equipment that typically would be expected ahead of a test, one of the officials said.”
Meanwhile, following a meeting convened by South Korean President Lee Myung Bak (Yi Myo’ng-pok) came the quacking of lame ducks. A presidential spokesman said “If North Korea misjudges the situation and pushes ahead with a provocation again, it will cause very grave consequences. The government urges North Korea to immediately halt all provocative words and actions and comply with international obligations.” Another anonymous official told Yonhap “If it carries out a nuclear test, it will be a big mistake. It will be unfortunate for North Korea’s future. This is the message we are sending to North Korea.”
Ah, the loaded phrase “provocation” which seems inaccurate in our present-tense context. Rather than quibble with diction, Pyongyang watchers might focus on whether we might see HEU or a thermonuclear experimental detonation, as explored by Jeffrey Lewis at ACW. Time to to look at the spread (hey, put a hook up there for me!): HEU, thermonuclear or does KJU send those men and their trucks home?
What To Expect When You’re Detonating
- The DPRK is likely to launch short- or medium-range surface-to-air missile [SAM] as an opening act to the detonation, as they did during May 2009
- The DPRK’s Foreign Ministry will notify China [PRC], the United States, the Russian Federation and, most likely South Korea [ROK] prior to the detonation
- The country will issue a written notice through state media outlets the Korean Central News Agency and internally air a variation of that written notice through Korean Central Television [KCTV] and Korean Central Broadcasting Station [KCBS] (radio)
- If the detonation attains a modicum of technical success, seismic activity will be detected in neighboring countries, and the yield will be detected (and subject to interpretation) through MASINT.
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.