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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.

Expanded Meeting of the Party Central Military Commission Held

27 Aug
Kim Jong Un presides over an expanded Party Central Military Commission meeting (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un presides over an expanded Party Central Military Commission meeting (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 25 August (Sunday) that an expanded meeting of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Central Military Commission [CMC] was held.  The meeting’s venue and date was not publicized.  Attending the meeting were CMC Members, members of the executive board of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] KWP Committee, commanding officers of the KPA’s service branches and KPA corps commanders.  According to KCNA, the meeting “discussed and decided upon practical issues of bolstering up the combat capability of the revolutionary armed forces and increasing the defence capability of the country in every way as required by prevailing situation and the present conditions of the People’s Army.”  Also discussed during the meeting was an “organizational matter” which most likely refers to personnel changes (appointments and dismissals) on the CMC.  At the end of the CMC meeting, according to KCNA, Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) “made an important concluding speech which would serve as guidelines for firmly protecting the sovereignty and security of the country and promoting the cause of the Military-First (So’ngun) revolution of the party.”

Kim Jong Un speaks at an expanded Party Central Military Commission meeting (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks at an expanded Party Central Military Commission meeting (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of the expanded Party Central Military Commission meeting in August 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of the expanded Party Central Military Commission meeting in August 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Graphic of current members of the Party Central Military Commission (Photo: Michael Madden/NK Leadership Watch).

Graphic of current members of the Party Central Military Commission (Photo: Michael Madden/NK Leadership Watch).

The last expanded CMC meeting was held in early February 2013.  This CMC meeting, along with a meeting of the KWP Political Bureau held on 12 February 2013, affirmed the DPRK central leadership’s decision to conduct a third experimental nuclear detonation, which occurred on 12 February at the test site in P’unggye-ri, Kilju County, North Hamgyo’ng Province.  According to a 22 August report in Dong-a Ilbo, which cited “informed sources on North Korea,” command of military operations during war or a national crisis have been transferred from the DPRK National Defense Commission to the CMC.  The news report also claimed that the decision to declare a war, or national crisis, was subject to a collective decision of the CMC, the NDC and KPA Supreme Command; previously the Supreme Command had sole authority to declare a war.  According to Dong-a Ilbo, “experts judge that this change is meant to promote the formality of the organizations of supreme authority making collective decision through consultations.”

DPRK state media reported on 25 August (Sunday) that Kim Jong Un attended a banquet hosted by the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces to mark the 53rd anniversary of the Military-First (So’ngun) Revolutionary Leadership.  The banquet was attended by members of the CMC, the NDC, senior KPA officials and KPA service branch and corps unit commanders.  VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department delivered a speech.  VMar Choe referred to Kim Jong Un having published a treatise on Military-First leadership in the 25 August 2013 editions of Rodong Sinmun and Joson Inmingun.  According to KCNA Choe also said:

Kim Jong Un dedicated his everything to bolstering up the military capability by making endless trips to forefront posts and units including the Kkachilbong post on Mt. Oso’ng, saying the road of Songun covered by the great Generalissimos all their lives is the journeys to be made by him. Thanks to his energetic Songun leadership, the country greeted the golden days of the army building and great events took place on this land one after another, striking the world people with admiration.

Our army and people will build a reunified, prosperous and the strongest country and a land of bliss for people where loud shouts of hurrah for the WPK will ring out on this land at an early date by intensifying the drive for displaying the “Speed on Masik Pass” on all fronts for the building of a thriving nation.

During the banquet, attendees toasted to the health of Kim Jong Un, described as representing “the destiny, future and ever-victorious banner of the great Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) power.”

Kim Jong Un Attends Moranbong Band Concert with FLW Anniversary Parade Participants

4 Aug
Kim Jong Un (2nd R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (3rd R) watch  a Moranbong Band concert with participants in the anniversary military parade and demonstration (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (2nd R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (3rd R) watch a Moranbong Band concert with participants in the anniversary military parade and demonstration (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 3 August (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a concert given for participants in the military parade and demonstration (held on 27 July) to mark the 60th anniversary of the termination of active hostilities of the Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War).  Kim Jong Un was joined by his wife Ri Sol Ju (Ri So’l-chu), along with VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Col. Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Col. Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau and ex aequo 1st Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Committee), Col. Gen. O Il Jong (Director of the KWP Military Affairs Department), Kim Kyong Ok (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department) and Gen. Kim Yong Chol (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff and Chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his attendance at a commemorative photo session with war veterans and parade participants.  Ri Sol Ju’s last observed appearance was at her husband’s guidance of the flight drills of KPA Air and anti-Air Force Unit #1017.

Overview of a Moranbong Band concert given for participants in the 27 July 2013 military parade and demonstration marking the 60th anniversary of the termination of the Fatherland Liberation War's (Korean War) active hostilities (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of a Moranbong Band concert given for participants in the 27 July 2013 military parade and demonstration marking the 60th anniversary of the termination of the Fatherland Liberation War’s (Korean War) active hostilities (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The Moranbong Band perform during a concert for participants in the war anniversary military parade and demonstration (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The Moranbong Band perform during a concert for participants in the war anniversary military parade and demonstration (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

After entering the concert venue to the audience’s cheers, Kim Jong Un “warmly congratulated the participants in the military parade on fully demonstrating the spirit of Military-First (So’ngun) Korea to surely build a thriving socialist nation on this land shining the undying exploits the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) performed by winning the victory in the war and their feats performed by achieving the victory in the Military-First (So’ngun) revolution.”  The concert began with the national anthem and the program included “Go All Out for Victory in the War,”  “Mungyong Pass,” “Tell, Fireworks of Victory,” “Long Live Generalissimo Kim Il Sung,” “Tribute to Victors in Great Annals,” and “July 27 March.”  According to KCNA the Moranbong Band “impressively showed that the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War was a victory of the Chuch’e-oriented military idea, distinguished strategy and tactics and superb commanding art of President Kim Il Sung and it was a shining victory of the might of the unity and cohesion of the army and people of the DPRK closely united around the party and the leader and their indomitable spirit.”  According to KCNA when images of Kim Il Sung, late DPRK President and founder, appeared on the screen along with footage of him giving a speech the audience “broke into loud applause and was overwhelmed with excitement.”  When the song “The Leader Whom We Entrust to Destiny” was played and an image of Kim Jong Un was projected, the audience “overcome with excitement rose from their seats and enthusiastically clapped their hands and sang in chorus, shaking the theatre.”

After the performance Kim Jong Un waved to the Moranbong Band members and to the audience, “congratulating the artistes on their successful performance.”  According to KCNA Kim Jong Un “expressed great expectation and belief that the participants in the military parade would discharge their sacred missions and duties in the struggle to defend socialism and the drive to build a thriving nation in the same heroic fighting spirit as displayed in the 1950s.”

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.

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 Ku’msusan Palace

8 Jul
Kim Jong Un (6th L) visits the Ku'msusan Palace of the Sun with senior DPRK officials on 8 July 2013, the 19th anniversary of the death of his paternal grandfather, late DPRK founder and president Kim Il Sung (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (6th L) visits the Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun with senior DPRK officials on 8 July 2013, the 19th anniversary of the death of his paternal grandfather, late DPRK founder and president Kim Il Sung (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun at midnight KST on 8 July (Monday) to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the death of his grandfather, DPRK founder and President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng).  He was accompanied by senior DPRK government and Korean People’s Army [KPA] officials including VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission, Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Administration Department and Kim Il Sung’s son-in-law), Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Col. Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Gen. Kim Wo’n-hong (Minister of State Security), VMar Hyon Chol Hae (Member of the KWP Political Bureau and Member of the KWP Central Military Commission), Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of People’s Security), Ju Kyu Chang (Director of the KWP Machine-Building Industry Department) and Kim Kyong Ok (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department with the portfolio for military affairs).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to the Kangdong Precision Machine Plant.

Kim Jong Un and the members of the core leadership accompanying him first entered a hall containing the statues of Kim Il Sung and late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il.  Floral baskets from Kim Jong Un and from the National Defense Commission and Party Central Military Commission were placed in front of the statues.  Kim Jong Un “and his companions” bowed in respect to the statues.  They visited the chamber containing Kim Il Sung’s preserved remains and bowed to him “in humblest reverence,” according to KCNA.  Kim Jong Un and the core elites visited a memorial hall and an exhibition of state titles, awards and various honors given to Kim Il Sung, as well as a display of the railway coach and sedan used by the late DPRK President.  Kim Jong Un then visited the chamber containing the preserved remains of his father, late leader Kim Jong Il “to make a bow to him in humblest reverence together with the companions.”  After visiting KJI’s remains, they proceeded to visit a display of the various titles, awards and honors KJI accumulated and an exhibition of one of KJI’s private railway coaches, his private boat, his black Mercedes Benz S-Class sedan and an electric cart he used in later years.

An honor guard of the Korean People's Army's three service branches and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards stand in attention in a hall containing the statues of DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung (1912-1994) and his son Kim Jong Il (1941-2011) at the Ku'msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 8 July 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

An honor guard of the Korean People’s Army’s three service branches and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards stand in attention in a hall containing the statues of DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung (1912-1994) and his son Kim Jong Il (1941-2011) at the Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 8 July 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik Lands at KPA General Staff

23 May
Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (annotated in a yellow box) was part of a group that saw off VMar Choe Ryong Hae (1) and a senior DPRK delegation on a trip to China at Pyongyang Airport on 22 May 2013.  Also seen in attendance is PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai (2) (Photo: KCNA)

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (annotated in a yellow box) was part of a group that saw off VMar Choe Ryong Hae (1) and a senior DPRK delegation on a trip to China at Pyongyang Airport on 22 May 2013. Also seen in attendance is PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai (2) (Photo: KCNA)

Two weeks after being removed from office as the DPRK’s defense minister, Gen. Kim Kyok Sik has been appointed Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff.  Gen. Kim had been appointed Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, the country’s equivalent to defense minister, in November 2012 and held that position until early May 2013.  On 13 May, DPRK state media identified Gen. Jang Jong Nam  as Minister of the PAF.  Gen. Kim’s removal from office, after only seven months in the position, caused a feverish amount of speculation among Pyongyang watchers some of whom interpreted his removal from office as a “purge.”  Gen. Kim replaces Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, who was appointed Chief of the KPA General Staff in July 2013 after the removal of VMar Ri Yong Ho.  There is no word as to whether Gen. Hyon was dismissed with prejudice or if he had been assigned another position in the KPA.  One of Gen. Hyon’s last observed appearances was in late April 2013 when he attended Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visit to the Haedanghwa Health Complex in Pyongyang.

Gen. Kim Kyok Sik was identified as the new head of the KPA General Staff in a Korean Central Television report about VMar Choe Ryong Hae’s 22 May (Wednesday) departure from Pyongyang Airport to visit China as the “special envoy of Kim Jong Un.”  Gen. Kim previous served as Chief of the KPA General Staff from 2007 to 2009.  He is the second DPRK elite to be appointed to a senior position that he previously held; the other member of the central leadership to be reappointed to his old job was Pak Pong Ju, who was appointed DPRK Cabinet Premier on 1 April 2013, having served as DPRK Premier from 2003-2007.  2007 was the same year that Kim Jong Un became a viable candidate as the late leader Kim Jong Il’s hereditary successor.

Kim Kyok Sik’s replacing Hyon Yong Chol marks the third senior KPA personnel turnover in two weeks (with Jang Jong Nam replacing Kim at MPAF, and Col. Gen. Jon Chang Bok replacing VMar Hyon Chol Hae as 1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), and the eighth observed personnel change to the KPA’s high command since Kim Jong Un formally assumed the supreme leadership in January 2012.  Pyongyang watchers might be forgiven if they find themselves reaching for the Dramamine with the latest change at the top of the KPA.  Finding an easy rationale behind these personnel changes would be, to paraphrase one of our most astute Kumsusanologists, “shallow and misleading.”

Graphic illustrating personnel changes in the senior command of the Korean People's Army [KPA] from 2007 to 2013 (Photo: M. Madden/NK Leadership Watch)

Graphic illustrating personnel changes in the senior command of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] from 2007 to 2013 (Photo: M. Madden/NK Leadership Watch)

Kim Jong Un Visits People’s Security Ministry and Watches Workers’ Sports Competition on May Day

2 May

Kim Jong Un (1) on the plaza in front of the Ministry of People's Security headquarters in Pyongyang, prior to commemorative photo-ops on May Day (1 May) in Pyongyang.  Also in attendance are Minister of People's Security, Col. Gen. Choe Pu Il (3) and Director of the KPSIF Political Bureau, Col. Gen. Ri Pyong Sam (2) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un (1) on the plaza in front of the Ministry of People’s Security headquarters in Pyongyang, prior to commemorative photo-ops on May Day (1 May) in Pyongyang. Also in attendance are Minister of People’s Security, Col. Gen. Choe Pu Il (3) and Director of the KPSIF Political Bureau, Col. Gen. Ri Pyong Sam (2) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

DPRK state media reported on 1 May (Wednesday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) inspected the Ministry of People’s Security and watched a sports contest between DPRK public health workers, on International Labor Day (May Day).  KJU’s last reported public appearance was his attendance at the DPRK premier league men’s football (soccer) finals for the Mangyo’ngdae Prize at Kim Il Sung Stadium.  First, Kim Jong Un visited the Ministry of People’s Security [MPS] and inspected Korean People’s Internal Security Forces [KPISF] Unit #2219.  Attending his visit to the MPS was VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department) and Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission [NDC] and Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Administration Department).

After arriving at MPS headquarters in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un posed for commemorative photographs with MPS and KPISF personnel.  He also paid his respects to statues of Kim Il Sung, the late DPRK President and founder, and Kim Jong Il, the country’s late leader.  According to KCNA, KJU said “the erection of their statues at the ministry strikingly demonstrates the unshakable will of all people’s security persons and service personnel of KPISF to eternally hold the peerlessly great men in high esteem and devotedly defend the socialist system, a precious legacy bequeathed by the Generalissimos.”  He also “underscored the need for them to eternally hold the Generalissimos in high esteem as the sun of Chuch’e, firmly defend and glorify their undying revolutionary exploits with pure revolutionary conscience and strong sense of obligation.”  Kim Jong Un “gave important instructions to tighten people’s security and bolster up the combat capabilities of KPISF in every way” and remarked that “the Ministry of People’s Security and KPISF play a very important role for defending the socialist system, he said, adding that the people’s security persons and service personnel of KPISF should be deeply aware of their heavy yet honorable combat missions.”  

Kim Jong Un poses for commemorative photographs in front of the Ministry of People's Security headquarters in Pyongyang on 1 May 2013 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un poses for commemorative photographs in front of the Ministry of People’s Security headquarters in Pyongyang on 1 May 2013 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun)

KCNA reported that Kim Jong Un “underlined the need to strengthen the people’s security organ and the internal security forces as units defending the policies of the party, strong guardians of socialism, merciless striking forces and reliable protectors of the lives and properties of the people” and said that “the enemies are now afraid of our single-minded unity around the party more than anything else and running the whole gamut of desperate and base moves to destabilize and bring down our society.”  KJU said “now that the enemies are working hard to bar our people from trusting and following the party with pure conscience and fixed will and alienate the masses from it, it is important to intensify the struggle to frustrate their moves,” “called for devotedly defending the party, social system and people, decisively foiling the ideological and cultural poisoning and psychological warfare of the enemies and mercilessly wiping out the undesirable and hostile elements who have foolish day dreams” and he “underlined the need for the ministry and the internal security forces to make full combat preparations to annihilate the U.S. imperialists and south Korean puppet group keen to stifle the DPRK and to creditably fulfill their missions and duties in the sacred struggle to provide a firm guarantee by dint of arms and law for the implementation of the party’s line on simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force.”  He also noted that “our Chuch’e-oriented socialist country is invincible as the Korean People’s Army and KPISF, the two revolutionary armed forces of the WPK, are firmly defending the security of the country and people.”

Kim Jong Un poses for a commemorative photograph with officers and service members of Korean People's Internal Security Forces Unit #2219 on 1 May 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un poses for a commemorative photograph with officers and service members of Korean People’s Internal Security Forces Unit #2219 on 1 May 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un then inspected KPISF Unit #2219.  After his arrival, he presented the unit with a pair of binoculars and an automatic rifle during a short ceremony.  He then posed for commemorative photographs with officers and service members of the unit.  KJU toured the political education facilities, visited a mess hall, a dormitory, a cultural education classroom and a washroom.  KCNA reported that KJU was “satisfied to see good conditions in the bed room, praising the unit for keeping the wash-cum-bath room with a sauna attached neat and clean.”  During a visit to a classroom he “he underscored the need to train the soldiers to be strong in idea and faith by intensifying politico-ideological education among them.”

After his tour, he supervised a drill by the unit.  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “highly appreciated their success in the drill and indicated tasks for bolstering up the combat capabilities of the unit” and “expressed belief that just as the service personnel of KPISF have always did, the soldiers of the unit would display a do-or-die will and matchless courage and thus become iron shields and fierce tigers devotedly defending the party, social system and people in their struggle to decisively foil the enemies’ moves to stifle the DPRK.”

Kim Jong Un (1) watches a sports competition of public health workers on 1 May 2013 with his wife Ri Sol Ju (2).  Also in attendance are: Jang Song Taek (3), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (4), Pak Pong Ju (5), Kim Kyong Hui (6), Kim Ki Nam (7) and Kim Yang Gon (8).  (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un (1) watches a sports competition of public health workers on 1 May 2013 with his wife Ri Sol Ju (2). Also in attendance are: Jang Song Taek (3), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (4), Pak Pong Ju (5), Kim Kyong Hui (6), Kim Ki Nam (7) and Kim Yang Gon (8). (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un’s next visit was his attendance at a sports contest between public health workers.  He was joined by his wife Ri Sol Ju (Ri So’l-chu) along with Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Cabinet Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Taek, Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary, KJU’s aunt and head of the Kim Family), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary and Supreme People’s Assembly Chairman), Pak To Chun (KWP Secretary), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department) along with “other senior officials of the party, the state and the army and workers in the field of public health.”  Also in attendance from the central leadership were: Gen. Kim Won Hong (Minister of State Security) Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang City [municipal] KWP Committee), Jo Yon Jun (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Col. Gen. Kim Chang Sop (Director of the Ministry of State Security Political Bureau), Col. Gen. Ri Pyong Sam (Director of the KPISF Political Bureau), Kim Kyong Ok (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Col. Gen. Jo Kyong Chol (Chief of the Military Security Command), Gen. Yun Jong Rin (Chief of the Guard Command) and Gen. Kim Yong Chol (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff and Chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau).

The public health workers were divided into two teams–the Pot’onggang and Taedonggang teams.  KCNA reported of the sports competitions:

Male and female volleyball matches took place first.

The Pothonggang Team defeated its rival in the breath-taking male volleyball match and the Taedonggang Team trounced its rival in the female volleyball match.

Then followed table-tennis matches.

Men’s and women’s singles and doubles and singles of leading officials of the relevant units were played, drawing the attention of the spectators.

The Pothonggang Team won the men’s and women’s singles and men’s doubles while the Taedonggang Team emerged a winner in the women’s doubles.

The Pothonggang Team won the singles of leading officials of the relevant units.

The Pothonggang Team beat its rival 4:1 in the table-tennis matches.

A tug of war took place between the two teams.

The Pothonggang Team won the game.

According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “clapped his hands whenever the players displayed high technique.”  The results of the competitions were announced and prizes given to the participants.  At the end of the event, KJU “waved back to the enthusiastic cheers of the players and spectators and congratulated them on the successful games.”

KJU Visits Health Complex

28 Apr
Kim Jong Un (2nd R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (R) visit a teppanyaki griddle in the restaurant of the Haedanghwa Health Complex in east Pyongyang (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un (2nd R) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (R) visit a teppanyaki griddle in the restaurant of the Haedanghwa Health Complex in east Pyongyang (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

DPRK state media reported on 27 April (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the recently constructed Haedanghwa Health Complex in Pyongyang.  KJU’s last reported public appearance was his attendance at a banquet commemorating the 81st anniversary of the foundation of the Korean People’s Army [KPA].  He was joined by his wife, Ri Sol Ju (Ri So’l-chu).  Madame Ri’s last reported public appearance was in late February, when she watched a basketball game and attended a banquet with Dennis Rodman.

Also attending the visit were DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju,  VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department),  Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission [NDC]), Gen. Hyon Yong Chol (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Kim Kyong Sik (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary and KJU’s aunt), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary and SPA Chairman), Kang Sok Ju (DPRK Cabinet Vice Premier), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Director of the International Affairs Department),  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 the Planning and Finance Department), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang City [municipal] KWP Committee), Col. Gen. O Il Jong (Director of the KWP Military Affairs Department), Han Kwang Sang (Deputy Director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department) Paek Kye Ryong (Director of the KWP Light Industry Department), Kim Kyong Ok (Senior Deputy [first vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Gen. Kim Yong Chol (Chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau and Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff) and Jon Il Chun (Deputy Director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department), among others.

Kim Jong Un began his visit at Haedanghwa Health Complex’s basement garage.  According to KCNA, KJU “was pleased to see the completed complex, adding that he appreciated its design and construction after examining the information on it presented to him by the relevant field.”  He also visited the store and dining rooms on the complex’s first two levels.  He “highly praised the builders for constructing not only the shop but the dining rooms to suit their nature and meet the requirements of formative art,” according to KCNA.  KJU visited the restaurant where he remarked that “cooking is a science and art, [he urged] the cookers to steadily improve their skills and display creative ingenuity to serve customers with varieties of tasty and highly nutritive dishes” and had a commemorative photograph taken with the chefs.  KJU then went to the second and third levels of the Haedanghwa Health Complex where he visited the public baths, saunas a barber shop, hair salon skin treatment center, workout room, billiard room and other recreational facilities.  KCNA reported that Kim Jong Un “personally checked the temperature of water at the bath and learnt about service provided at a face treatment room” and “was pleased to see the wading pool. He was also pleased to go round various saunas built with peculiar building materials such as halite, agate and yellow earth.”  KJU also “learnt in detail about what kinds of sports apparatuses are there in the fitness hall and table-tennis hall” and whilst “watching the clock in the shape of billiard balls and billiard table on a wall of the billiard room, he praised the builders for having constructed the room in such a perfect manner that everything there is impeccable.”

KJU then visited the health complex’s e-library and, according to KCNA, said “a relevant field should systematically send various data and videos on cooking to the e-reading room” and he “stressed the need to supply a sufficient quantity of foodstuff necessary for cooking practice so that apprentices may acquire workable knowledge, saying that theory is not enough to acquire cooking skill.”  He also visited a coffee shop on the complex’s fifth floor.  According to KCNA Kim Jong Un said that “it is the firm resolution of the WPK to enable the Korean people, the best in the world, to fully enjoy wealth and glory under socialism, without tightening their belts again, he noted, underlining the need to build more modern service centers such as the Haedanghwa Health Complex impeccable in any aspect.”

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