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Mongolian President Arrives in Pyongyang and Meets with Kim Yong Nam

28 Oct
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (L) shakes hands with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam (R) after arrving at Pyongyang Airport on 28 October 2013 for a four-day visit to the DPRK (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (L) shakes hands with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam (R) after arrving at Pyongyang Airport on 28 October 2013 for a four-day visit to the DPRK (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a delegation of senior Mongolian government officials arrived in Pyongyang on 28 October (Monday) for a four-day visit ending on 31 October.  President Elbegdorj’s visit will commemorate the 65th anniversary of DPRK-Mongolian relations and lead to the expansion of the countries’ bilateral ties.  Greeting Elbegdorj at Pyongyang Airport were Kim Yong Nam (President of the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA]), Pak Ui Chun (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Ri Ryong Nam (Minister of Foreign Trade), Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (Vice Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff), Son Kwang Ho (Vice Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Kwang Il Ryong (Vice Minister of Land and Marine Transport), Hong Kyu (DPRK Ambassador to Mongolia), Kim Jin Bom (Vice Chairman of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and Chairman of the DPRK-Mongolia Friendship Association) and other DPRK officials.  Also greeting President Elbegjorj at the airport was Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold.

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj reviews an honor guard of the KPA and Worker-Peasant Red Guards (L) and receives a floral bouquet after arriving in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj reviews an honor guard of the KPA and Worker-Peasant Red Guards (L) and receives a floral bouquet after arriving in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Elbegdorj was accompanied by his wife, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Luvsanvandan Bold, Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga, Secretary General of the National Security Council Tsagaandari Enkhtuvshin, Chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Tserendejid Byambajav, Vice Minister of Road Transport Khabshai Erjan,  Presidential National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor Lundeg Purevsuren, Presidential Advisor for Mass Liaison and Mass Policy Amgalanbaatar Ganbaatar,  Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Pureb Altangerel and other Mongolian government officials.  During the welcoming ceremony for the Mongolian delegation, President Elbegdorj reviewed an honor guard consisting of the KPA’s three service branches and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards.  Representatives of DPRK women workers and children of Mongolian diplomatic staff stationed in the DPRK presented floral bouquets to Elbegdorj and his wife.

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a senior Mongolian Government delegation (R) meet with Kim Yong Nam and senior DPRK officials at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a senior Mongolian Government delegation (R) meet with Kim Yong Nam and senior DPRK officials at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

Following the delegation’s arrival, Elbegdorj and senior Mongolian officials met with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang.  Attending the meeting from the DPRK were Pak Ui Chun, Ri Jong Mu (Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Kim Jong Suk (Chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries), Pak Kil-yo’n (Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs), Kwang Il Ryong, Hong Kyu and other DPRK officials.  According to KCNA, “both sides exchanged views on the issue of boosting the bilateral relations of friendship and other issues of mutual concern” during the meeting and the “talks took place in a friendly atmosphere.”

General Staff Statement Says KPA “Ready to Promptly Launch Operations Any Time”

8 Oct
KPA General Staff (NK Leadership Watch graphic)

KPA General Staff (NK Leadership Watch graphic)

The Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff issued a statement on 7 October (Monday) which said that the KPA’s “the units of all services and army corps level of the KPA received an emergency order from its supreme command on October 5 (Saturday) to reexamine the operation plans already ratified by it and keep themselves fully ready to promptly launch operations any time” in response to ongoing joint US-ROK maritime exercises under way in the East Sea (Sea of Japan).  The General Staff described the routine exercises, scheduled from 30 September to 13 October involve the aircraft carrier USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group and include anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare drills, air defense exercises and education and cultural exchanges.  The KPA General Staff also said that the US “should bear in mind that the more frequently and the deeper its imperialist aggression forces’ nuclear strike means including the nuclear carrier enter the air above the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula and waters off it, the more unpredictable disasters their actions will cause” and that the “U.S. should bear in mind that the Korean people and army are highly alerted to promptly and confidently cope and foil blatant provocations of any hostile forces in the world with its own powerful military muscle.”

According to KCNA, the spokesman for the KPA General Staff statement said:

The situation on the Korean Peninsula is now getting strained again though the tension had been defused thanks to the patient efforts on the part of the DPRK.

This is entirely attributable to the persistent anti-DPRK military confrontation of the U.S. and Japanese aggressors and south Korean puppet forces.

As already reported, the nuclear-powered carrier strike group of the navy of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces entered Pusan Port again at dawn of October 4. It participated in the DPRK-targeted joint naval maneuvers which had been under way secretly in the East Sea of Korea since September 30.

This strike group is made up of the U.S. super-large nuclear-powered carrier George Washington with at least 100 nuclear bombs aboard, many guided-missile destroyers, cruisers, submarines and escort warships, etc.

It is reported that the strike group will get involved in the DPRK-targeted large-scale joint naval strike maneuvers in the South Sea of Korea from Tuesday together with warship groups of the Japanese aggression forces and south Korean puppet navy.

Now the U.S. imperialists are openly advertising that the drills to be staged with the aircraft carrier task force as an axis are a planned military offensive to pressurize the DPRK in a bid to deter its possible “provocations” including nuclear test and missile launch and lead it to “changes” desired by them.

This clearly proves that the remarks of such high-ranking officials of the U.S. Obama administration as the secretary of State that the U.S. neither pursues a hostile policy towards the DPRK nor has the will to attack it are sheer lies.

The gravity of the situation is that all these military moves are timed to coincide with the adoption of the “tailored deterrence strategy” presupposing a preemptive strike at the DPRK between the master and its servant.

In this connection, the units of all services and army corps level of the KPA received an emergency order from its supreme command on October 5 to reexamine the operation plans already ratified by it and keep themselves fully ready to promptly launch operations any time, watching with high vigilance every move of the U.S. and Japanese aggressors and the puppet forces.

The U.S. should bear in mind that the more frequently and the deeper its imperialist aggression forces’ nuclear strike means including the nuclear carrier enter the air above the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula and waters off it, the more unpredictable disasters their actions will cause.

The U.S. will be wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster to be met by its imperialist aggression forces’ nuclear strike means as it is deploying them regardless of the time.

In this regard the DPRK invariably holds that if the U.S. administration stands for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and is interested in the peace and security in the region, the U.S., not the DPRK, should make a decision to move first.

Because it is none other than the U.S. which adopted an extremely hostile policy toward the DPRK, spawned the nuclear issue on the peninsula and has posed a constant nuclear threat to it.

The U.S. should bear in mind that the Korean people and army are highly alerted to promptly and confidently cope and foil blatant provocations of any hostile forces in the world with its own powerful military muscle.

The same day (5 October) that the General Staff states that “the units of all services and army corps level of the KPA received an emergency order from its supreme command on October 5 to reexamine the operation plans already ratified by it and keep themselves fully ready to promptly launch operations any time,” an editorial denouncing the joint US-ROK military exercises was published in Rodong Sinmun which said, in part:

The maneuvers to provoke a war of northward aggression by the US imperialists and South Korean puppet warmongers are heading toward a reckless stage. As reported, the South Korean puppets are attempting to bring in the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier “George Washington” and perpetrate a joint maritime exercise in the East Sea of Korea. The fact that a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is crawling into South Korea at an acute juncture when North-South relations lie between dialogue or confrontation is an issue that should not be overlooked with indifference. For warmongers at home and abroad to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in a large-scale joint maritime exercise opposing us is very dangerous, reckless behavior aimed at destroying the atmosphere of dialogue and peace and once again driving the situation toward the worst confrontational phase, as well as a direct challenge and overt military threat to our peaceful efforts.

Although the puppets have clamored that this war exercise is an “annual” event and “preparation against provocation,” there is no one who will heed such cheap wordplay. The very fact that a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is equipped with all types of cutting-edge firepower equipment such as scores of latest fighter jets and missiles and commands 20 ships — including a nuclear submarine, cruiser, and destroyer — is a serious military provocation and a prelude to a war of northward aggression. Moreover, given the fact that the USS “George Washington” is a war monster that gained notoriety in the hotspots of the world in the past, the situation is very grave.

The United States and the puppet warmongers have already carried out a nuclear strike exercise targeting us while continuously introducing nuclear strategic bombers in the airspace above South Korea during the “U’lchi Freedom Guardian” joint military exercises held last August. Following this, they are frantically attempting to conduct joint maritime exercises by once again bringing in a nuclear-powered nuclear aircraft carrier. This clearly shows what reckless stage the war provocation attempt of northward aggression by warmongers at home and abroad has reached.

There are three differences between the General Staff’s 7 October statement and the 5 October Rodong editorial.  The General Staff’s statement refers to an “an emergency order from its supreme command” and it says that KPA service branches and corps units are “fully ready to promptly launch operations.”  The statement also directly alludes to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark on 2 October that “We are prepared to have a peaceful relationship with North Korea. We are not engaged in regime change. We are prepared to sign a non-aggression agreement — providing North Korea decides to denuclearize and to engage in legitimate negotiations to achieve that end.”  The KPA General Staff’s statement follows up another 7 October statement of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (f.k.a. the Committee for the Reunification of the Fatherland) reacting to the US-ROK policy of “bilateral strategy for tailored deterrence” announced at the 45th Security Consultative Meeting held between US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and ROK Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin in Seoul on 2 October:

The U.S. is trying to ignite a nuclear war while talking about “sign of the use of nuclear weapons” by the DPRK on the Korean Peninsula, the statement noted, and went on:

The military confab for aggression has created a touch-and-go situation in which an accidental case or a misjudgment may lead to a nuclear war.

It is illogical for the Park Geun Hye regime to cry out for “dismantlement of nuclear weapons” and “denuclearization” of the DPRK while openly revealing its scheme for a nuclear war against the DPRK in league with the U.S.

The U.S. and the puppet regime are trying hard to put political and military pressure on the DPRK, deter the DPRK’s offensive for dialogue and peace and escalate the tensions through frantic nuclear war provocation moves and thus attain without fail their aggression purposes. This only heightens the indignation of the army and people of the DPRK.

Should the U.S. and the puppet forces opt for the provocation of a nuclear war against the DPRK, defying its warnings, it will resolutely counter them.

The U.S. imperialists and the puppet forces should not run amuck, clearly aware of the spirit of the army and people of the DPRK to annihilate enemies.

The General Staff’s statement also builds on a lengthy statement released by the National Defense Commission [NDC] Policy Department on 4 October (Friday) which contained only generic references to the ROK “conspir(ing) outsiders under the pretext of leading the DPRK to ‘change.’”  Unlike the the General Staff’s statement, the NDC Policy Department’s statement was a catalogue of the DPRK’s grievances against the ROK including the Park Administration’s approach to inter-Korean relations, a speech made by ROK President Park Geun-hye and ROK military parade that included the Hyunmoo-2 short-range ballistic and the Spike anti-tanks missiles.  The NDC Policy Department statement was paired with one on 5 October (Saturday) from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.  This appears to be a publicity tactic by the DPRK’s image makers in which a statement issued from a key security organization is released with a statement from a key civilian organization.  In releasing the KPA General Staff’s statement, the process was reversed; the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea statement was the lead-in for that of the General Staff.  This may be a matter of balancing the institutional affiliation of the DPRK’s message bearers.  It could indicate a certain degree of solidarity (and policy agreement) among senior DPRK military and civilian policymakers on the country’s interactions and relations with the ROK.

DPRK National Defense Commission (Photo: NK Leadership Watch Graphic)

DPRK National Defense Commission (Photo: NK Leadership Watch Graphic)

This was the first statement released by the KPA General Staff since April 2013, a period in which inter-Korean relations were tense and security on the Korean Peninsula was fragile.  In April the KPA General Staff issued two statements, one on 4 April which objected to the B-52 bomber’s participation in joint US-ROK military exercises and another on 12 April which denied DPRK involvement in cyberattacks on ROK institutions.

The statement also marked the first significant public activity by the General Staff since the August 2013 appointment of Gen. Ri Yong Gil as chief.  Gen. Ri, former commander of the hardline forward-deployed V Army Corps, attended a 29 March 2013 meeting chaired by DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) at which “he signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA, ordering them to be standby for fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in south Korea.”  Also attending the meeting was Gen. Kim Yong Chol, Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff and Director of the Reconnaissance General Bureau, who manages the NDC Policy Department.

Two Sports Economy Projects Completed

7 Oct
An apartment complex constructed for DPRK athletes with judoka An Kum Ae in front of her apartment  (top) and the ceremony open the renovated Pyongyang Indoor Stadium (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

An apartment complex constructed for DPRK athletes with judoka An Kum Ae in front of her apartment (top) and the 3 October 2013 ceremony open the renovated Pyongyang Indoor Stadium (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Two construction projects linked to the DPRK’s policy of promoting sports and physical culture were opened in Pyongyang on 3 October (Thursday).  A ceremony was held on Thursday marking the opening of the renovation of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium, a venue for political meetings, commemorative photo-ops and athletic competitions  located on a bank of the Pot’ong River in the city centre next to the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Central Committee Office Complex.  Attending the ceremony were Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), 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 [SPA]), Yang Hyong Sop (Vice President of the SPA Presidium), 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), Kim Yong Jin (DPRK Vice Premier), Kim In Sik (DPRK Vice Premier and Chairman of the Capital City Construction Commission), Ri Yong Su (Director of the KWP Workers’ Organizations Department), Ri Jong Mu (Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (Vice Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff) along with “exemplary construction workers who took part in the remodeling construction; functionaries and employees of the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports and Pyongyang Indoor Stadium; players, coaches, and members of the cheering squad taking part in the National Sports Contest of Provincial Teams; (and) working people of Pyongyang and the youth and students.”

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju speaks at a ceremony reopening the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium after renovations on 3 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA screen grab).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju speaks at a ceremony reopening the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium after renovations on 3 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA screen grab).

Pak Pong Ju delivered a speech in which he said that “Supreme leader Kim Jong Un unfolded a plan for giving a facelift to the stadium, which is associated with the leadership feats of President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) and contributed to the development of the country’s sports and the cultural and emotional life of the working people, as required by the new century, and wisely led the work to do so.”  According to KCNA Pak also “called on all officials and other people to pay deeper social attention to the sports, raise the hot wind of sports across the country through mass sports activities and thus glorify forever the undying feats of the WPK which has provided the people with the best base for sports and cultural life. ”  After the ceremony, participants toured the stadium and watched the Provincial Teams’ National Sports Contest.

In east Pyongyang, at the Central Youth Hall, on 3 October a ceremony was held at which DPRK athletes were given residence certificates to live in a recently constructed apartment complex in the Pyongyang’s Pot’onggang District.  Attending the ceremony were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Kim Ki Nam, External Construction Guidance Bureau officials and athletes receiving apartments.  In his speech at the ceremony Kim Ki Nam said that “the houses reflectMarshal Kim Jong Un’s great expectation that the sportspersons will display ardent enthusiasms and faithfully uphold the WPK’s idea on turning the DPRK into a sports power” and he “stressed the need for officials in the sports field, players and coaches to make contributions to demonstrating the dignity and honor of Military-First (So’ngun) Korea with gold medals.”  According to KCNA the athletes’ apartments have”several living rooms, a kitchen, a washroom, a toilet, etc. and are furnished with household goods and high-class furniture. ”  On 5 October (Saturday), members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission visited the athletes and their families in the apartments.  They brought housewarming gifts and “told the sportspersons to give fuller play to the might of Kim Il Sung’s nation and Kim Jong Il’s Korea by winning gold medals in international games in the future and thus encourage all the service personnel and people dynamically advancing towards a final victory in the building of a thriving socialist nation.”

Members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission visit athletes’ apartments on 5 October 2013.

Director of the KWP Machine-Building Industry Department, National Defense Commission Member and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Ju Kyu Chang (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Director of the KWP Machine-Building Industry Department, National Defense Commission Member and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Ju Kyu Chang (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Mun Kyong Dok (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Mun Kyong Dok (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kwak Pom Gi (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kwak Pom Gi (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the International Affairs Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim Yong Il (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the International Affairs Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim Yong Il (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim Yang Gon (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim Yang Gon (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary, National Defense Commission Member and KWP Political Bureau Member Pak To Chun (Photo: KCTV screengrabs).

KWP Secretary, National Defense Commission Member and KWP Political Bureau Member Pak To Chun (Photo: KCTV screengrabs).

KWP Secretary, Supreme People's Assembly Chairman and KWP Political Bureau Member Choe T'ae-pok (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary, Supreme People’s Assembly Chairman and KWP Political Bureau Member Choe T’ae-pok (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Cadres' Affairs Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim P'yo'ng-hae (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Cadres’ Affairs Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim P’yo’ng-hae (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

DPRK Vice Premier, State Planning Commission Chairman and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Ro Tu Chol (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

DPRK Vice Premier, State Planning Commission Chairman and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Ro Tu Chol (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department and KWP Political Bureau Member Kim Ki Nam (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department and KWP Political Bureau Member Kim Ki Nam (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Senior Deputy Director of the KWP Organization and Guidance Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Member Jo Yon Jun (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Senior Deputy Director of the KWP Organization and Guidance Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Member Jo Yon Jun (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Pyongyang Hosts Two Sports Competitions

22 Sep
The 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Junior and Senior Weightlifting Championship (top) and 10 September Prize Martial Arts Contest (bottom) were held in Pyongyang during 10-18 September 2013 (Photos: KCNA)

The 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Junior and Senior Weightlifting Championship (top) and 10 September Prize Martial Arts Contest (bottom) were held in Pyongyang during 10-18 September 2013 (Photos: KCNA)

During 12 September to 17 September Pyongyang hosted an international and domestic sports competitions.  The 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Tournament (under the auspices of the International Weightlifting Federation) was held at Ryugyo’ng Jong Ju Yong Indoor Stadium from 12 September to 17 September and the DPRK national martial arts competition for the 10 September Prize occurred at the Taekwondo Hall from 12 September to 18 September.

The opening ceremony for the Asian Cup Weightlifting Championships was held at Ryugyo’ng Jong Ju Yong Indoor Stadium in the center of Pyongyang on 12 September.  The championships involved about 200 weightlifters hailing from 15 countries in Asia.  During the opening ceremony speeches Cha Hui Rim, Chairman of the Pyongyang City People’s Committee, “sent thanks to the International Weightlifting Federation and the Asian Weightlifting Federation for their sincere cooperation for the successful Championship.”  Ali Moradi, General Secretary of the Asian Weightlifting Federation, “extended his thanks to Marshal Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) as he took a measure for successful Championship in the DPRK, sincerely congratulating the Korean people who significantly celebrated the foundation day of the DPRK” and DPRK Minister of Physical Culture and Sport Ri Jong Mu “noted that the Championship marks an important occasion of exchanging successes and experiences achieved in the wrestling development in the Asian region and deepening the friendship.”  During the opening ceremony, the ROK (South Korea) flag was raised and after ROK.      According to the ROK Government this was the first time ROK athletes participated in an international competition in the DPRK and the last occasion that ROK athletes competed in the DPRK was an October 2008 exhibition soccer (football) games.

The 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Junior and Senior Weightlifting Championship was held at Ryugyo'ng Jong Ju Yong Indoor Stadium  in Pyongyang from 12 to 17 September 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

The 2013 Asian Cup and Interclub Junior and Senior Weightlifting Championship was held at Ryugyo’ng Jong Ju Yong Indoor Stadium in Pyongyang from 12 to 17 September 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

On the third day of competition, the ROK national anthem was played after ROK weightlifter Kim Woo-sik placed first in the 85 kg Interclub junior men’s weight class.  On the fourth day of competition, Kim Jong Un attended the senior women’s 63 and 65 kg competition.  Prior to the competition’s start he met with senior officials of the AWF and the IWF, telling them that “he was very pleased to see weightlifters from different countries playing in Pyongyang with sports enthusiasm sweeping across the DPRK and public interest in sports steadily increasing in the country” and “appreciated the big efforts made by AWF, IWF and other related bodies for the successful opening of the championship.”  In the end, the DPRK came in first in the medal count with 149 medals, 80 of which were gold.  China came in second in the medal county with 87 medals, 27 of which were gold and the ROK team placed third in the total medal count with 72 medals.  The complete results for the Interclub Junior Championships are available here [PDF] and those for the Asian Cup Junior Championship are available here [PDF].

The DPRK’s 8th National Martial Arts Contest for the 10 September Prize opened at the Taekwondo Hall in Mangyo’ngdae Sports Village in Pyongyang on 12 September.  10 September refers to the date in 1992 when late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) inspected the Taekwondo Hall in Mangyo’ngdae.  The contest involved over 250 participants from 15 teams and included taekwondo, karate, wushu and Paduk (Go) competitions.  Taekwondo sparring, Wushu matches and Paduk contests were held during 13-15 September.  On 16 September, men’s and women’s taekwondo pattern and breaking competitions were held, along with Paduk mixed doubles.  In the men’s pattern competition, Ham Chung Ryol (national team) came in first, Ra Kyong Hun (of Sunch’o’n Cement Complex Team) came in second, Ri Phil Hun (South Hwanghae Provincial Team) came in third and Hyon Chang Ryul (North P’yo’ngan Provincial Team) came in fourth.  In the women’s pattern competition, Sim Il Ok (North Hwanghae Provincial Team) came in first, Kim Pom Mi (national team) came in second, Kim Ji Hyang (national team) came in third and Ri Hyang Mi (North Hwanghae Provincial Team) came in fourth.  In the special skills competition, Ri Song Il (North Hwanghae Provincial Team) placed first in the men’s category, and Kim Il Hwa (national team) placed first in the women’s category.  In the mixed Paduk doubles, Jang Ri Gyong and Kim Song Won (Pyongyang Team) won Group A, and Kim Kyong Hui and Song Hyon Jin (South Hamgyo’ng Provincial Team) won Group B.

The 8th National Martial Arts Championships were held at Taekwondo Hall in Pyongyang from 12 to 18 September 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

The 8th National Martial Arts Championships were held at Taekwondo Hall in Pyongyang from 12 to 18 September 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

(Photos: KCNA screengrabs)

(Photos: KCNA screengrabs)

The last day of  the contest, 17 September, included demonstration competitions in which competitors “successfully destroyed the targets by front fist, knife-hand, elbow, side kick and turning kick requiring great strength and skills.”  Ri Phil Hun (South Hwanghae Provincial Team) came first in the men’s individual demonstrations, and Ri Yon A (Kangwo’n Provincial Team) came first in the women’s individual demonstrations.  The South Hamgyo’ng Provincial Team placed first in the men’s team demonstration with the Pyongyang Team placing second and the North Hwanghae Provincial Team placing third.  The Kangwo’n Provincial Team placed first in the women’s team demonstrations, with the Pyongyang Team placing second and the South Hwanghae Provincial Team placing third.  The 10 September Prize’s closing ceremony was held on 18 September and attended by Kim Kyong Ho (Chairman of the Korean Taekwando Committee) along with “officials concerned, players, coaches, Pyongyang citizens and students.”  In the taekwondo standings, the North Hwanghae Provincial Team came in first place, the Kangwo’n Provincial Team came in second and the South Hamgyo’ng Provincial Team placed third.  In Paduk, the Pyongyang Team took first, with the South Hamgyo’ng Provincial Team placing second and South P’yo’ngan Provincial Team placing third.  In overall team standings, the North Hwanghae Provincial Team came in first, Pyongyang Team came in second and South Hamgyo’ng placed third.

The 10 September Prize contest occurred whilst the DPRK’s International Taekwondo Federation [ITF] negotiates with its ROK counterpart the World Taekwondo Federation [WTF] for cross participation in their competitions.  WTF President Choue Chung-won met with ITF President Jang Ung during the International Olympic Committee’s 125th Session in Argentina (held during 7 to 10 September).  According to KBS World, Choue said “both sides could sign a memorandum of understanding as early as next month in Russia when the 2013 World Combat Games opens.”

Having concurrently hosted an international and domestic sports competition may be the consummation of the role of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, ten months after it was established.  Andray Abrahamian writes on the DPRK’s recent emphasis on sports on 38 North:

Winning prestigious sporting events is a major impetus for the “let’s-all-love-sports” campaign. Sporting triumphs may also provide an outlet for nationalist rallying during geopolitically calmer times. One can imagine a situation in the coming years where Pyongyang’s strategic goals will require some sort of détente or at least negotiations with the US and South Korea. Should such a détente occur, North Korea would need to avoid testing any ballistic or nuclear technologies for a period of time in order not to scupper any cooperation that might develop. It would be extremely useful then to have other victories to inspire patriotic pride. Sports, as in any country, can provide this.

Certainly, pointing to sporting victories will be easier than pointing to economic ones if Pyongyang maintains its ambivalence to reform. While the new leadership has demonstrated some interest in economic policy experimentation, the reticence to change that was the hallmark of the Kim Jong Il era is still evident. Both national sporting victories and the urban beautification projects that center around leisure activities—the rollerblading rinks, basketball courts and swimming pools—can be read as a means of buying time, while economic and foreign policy options are explored.

Overall, the sports campaign is also congruous with Kim Jong Un’s brand. As we’ve seen in the past year, the younger Kim has had a distinct niche carved out on his behalf. He clearly projects an approachable, friendly leadership style; one newish song is called “Friendly Comrade Kim Jong Un,” lest there be any doubt. Perhaps most importantly, however, rather than avoid the issue of his age, his public relations team has embraced it, emphasizing his youth, vitality and energy. Promoting sports at a mass-participatory and competitive level has a high degree of cogence with this branding process.

According to an 11 August article in Sankei Shimbun, Kim Jong Un’s “national sports” policy finds DPRK Cabinet ministries and other power organizations sponsoring specific sports events.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for basketball, the Korean Workers’ Party United Front Department is “the main sponsoring organization” for football (soccer) and the Ministry of Foreign Trade is responsible for archery.  Taekwondo is now sponsored and managed by the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports.  The State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, according to Sankei, “is focusing on earning good sums of foreign currency” and the “Commission’s discussions are not limited to only sports policy but also extend to diplomatic and domestic issues, causing some to see the Commission as a core “shadow” regime organization.”

WPRK Parade and Demonstration Held to Mark DPRK’s 65th Anniversary

10 Sep
2013-09-10-02-04

Kim Jong Un waves to a crowd from the parade review platform in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013, during a parade and demonstration marking the 65th anniversary of the country’s foundation. Also seen on the platform with him are Jang Song Taek (L), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (2nd L), Kim Ki Nam (3rd R), Kim Yong Nam (2nd R) and Pak Pong Ju (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The Worker-Peasant Red Guards [WPRG] staged a parade, followed by a demonstration by Pyongyangites, in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September (Monday), the 65th anniversary of the foundation of the DPRK.  Kim Jong Un attended the WPRG parade and demonstration.  Also on the reviewing platform were senior DPRK officials including Kim Yong Nam (Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium President), Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), “the chairperson of a friendly party, officials of the party, armed forces organs and the Cabinet and chief secretaries of Provincial Party Committees of the WPK” along with “Kwon Sun Hwi, advisor to the Central Standing Committee of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, and Choe Un Bok, chairwoman of the General Association of Koreans in China.”  Also in attendance were “deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly, officials of the party, armed forces and power bodies, social organizations, ministries and national institutions, service personnel of the KPA and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces, officials in the fields of science, education, literature and arts, public health and media, merited people, delegations of overseas Koreans and other compatriots and the chief of the Pyongyang Mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front” and “foreign delegations and delegates, foreign diplomatic envoys and representatives of international bodies and their wives and military attaches here and other foreign guests.”

Minister of the People's Armed Forces Gen. Jang Jong Nam (foreground) presents Worker-Peasant Red Guard members to participate in a parade marking the 6th anniversary of the foundation in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Jang Jong Nam (foreground) presents Worker-Peasant Red Guard members to participate in a parade marking the 6th anniversary of the foundation in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (C) delivers a speech at a parade and demonstration in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK's foundation.  Also seen in attendance is Minister of State Security Gen. Kim Won Hong (L) and National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Gen. O Kuk Ryol (R) (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (C) delivers a speech at a parade and demonstration in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK’s foundation. Also seen in attendance is Minister of State Security Gen. Kim Won Hong (L) and National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Gen. O Kuk Ryol (R) (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

The flags of the DPRK and Korean Workers’ Party were raised with musical accompaniment.  WPRG members were ceremoniously inspected then presented to Kim Jong Un by Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, Gen. Jang Jong Nam.  After the presentation of the WPRG members DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju delivered a speech in which, according to KCNA, he said “that the history of the DPRK clearly proves immutable truth that the great leaders assure the high dignity and prosperity of the country and nation” and “stressed that the army and people of the DPRK holding the peerlessly great men in high esteem generation after generation will as ever dynamically advance along the road of independence, Military-First (So’ngun) and socialism and it will shine forever as the socialist state of Juche with the invincible might.”

After Pak’s speech the WPRK parade began with the marching of flags displaying of the portraits late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and his son late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).  This was followed by WPRG members emptying Kim Il Sung Square and its vicinity to mark past the parade reviewing platform.  The WPRG members consisted of reserve military training units members of the WPRG’s units from the provinces, at industrial complexes and agricultural sites, along with WPRG units of the Ministries of Land Management and Public Health, reserve units from DPRK universities and members of the Young Red Guard.  The parade marchers were followed by a ride-past of multiple-launch rockets systems [MLRS] and towed artillery pieces.  A parade and demonstration by the citizens of Pyongyang followed the WPRK parade which began with a float consisting of replicas of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il statues amid a a sea of people carrying the DPRK flag.  According to KCNA “columns of dancers depicting the national flag, Taekwon-do players, military families, artistes, scientists, sportspersons, teachers and medical workers walked past the square” and “letters reading ‘Kim Il Sung’, ‘Kim Jong I’, ‘Kim Jong Un’, ‘Glory’, ‘Celebration of 65th Anniversary’, ‘Great Mt. Paketu (Paektusan) Nation’, ‘Speed on Masik Pass’, ‘Economic Power’, ‘Single-minded Unity’, etc. were presented on the square and the flags of the DPRK and the WPK were portrayed in succession.”

View of the Grand People's Study House overlooking Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 during a parade and demonstration marking the 65th anniversary of the country's foundation.  Also viewable in this image behind the study house are the KWP Organization Guidance Department, the Pyongyang Ice Rink and the Red Wall Apartments (inhabited by KWP Secretaries) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of the Grand People’s Study House overlooking Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 during a parade and demonstration marking the 65th anniversary of the country’s foundation. Also viewable in this image behind the study house are the KWP Organization Guidance Department, the Pyongyang Ice Rink and the Red Wall Apartments (inhabited by KWP Secretaries) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Members of the Worker-Peasant Red Guard march through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a parade marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK's foundation (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Members of the Worker-Peasant Red Guard march through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang during a parade marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK’s foundation (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Red tractors tow multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) through Kim Il Sung Square on 9 September 2013 as part of the WPRK parade (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Red tractors tow multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) through Kim Il Sung Square on 9 September 2013 as part of the WPRK parade (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Towed multiple-launch rocket systems ride through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Towed multiple-launch rocket systems ride through Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Parade floats which were part of a demonstration by Pyongyangites which followed the WPRG parade, held on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Parade floats which were part of a demonstration by Pyongyangites which followed the WPRG parade, held on Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un waves to a parade and demonstration held to mark the 65th anniversary of the DPRK's foundation in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013.  Also seen in attendance are: VMar Kim Yong Chun, Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Gen. Ri Yong Gil, Jang Song Taek and VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Photo: KCTV still).

Kim Jong Un waves to a parade and demonstration held to mark the 65th anniversary of the DPRK’s foundation in Pyongyang on 9 September 2013. Also seen in attendance are: VMar Kim Yong Chun, Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Gen. Ri Yong Gil, Jang Song Taek and VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Photo: KCTV still).

At the end of the parade “there were loud hurrahs resounding far and wide, fireworks being shot up and balloons rising to the sky.  Kim Jong Un, accompanied by VMar Choe Ryong Hae and Jang Song Taek, walked along the parade reviewing platform’s deck with Kim Jong Un waving to the crowd.

A few recent internal political issues (involving personnel matters) could be observed at the WPRK parade and demonstration.  Events held to mark the DPRK’s 65th anniversary were going to provide clarity on the current officeholder of Chief of the KPA General Staff.  Based on the standing order on the parade reviewing platform, Gen. Ri Yong Gil was standing in the spot previously occupied by Gen. Kim Kyok Sik indicating that Gen. Ri has replaced Gen. Kim.  Ri Yong Gil has also been replaced, with a new and unknown Chief of the General Staff Operations Bureau attending to Kim Jong Un during the WPRG parade.  The anniversary event also marked the return of KWP Secretary and weapons industry boss Pak To Chun.  Pak had not appeared in state media for several months and distinctly absent from war anniversary events in July.  Pak was shown at least three times, standing along side other senior KWP officials.   Kim Jong Un’s walk along the parade reviewing platform’s balcony to wave to the crowd was an interesting tabeleaux du régime for leadership dynamics.  Usual post-parade platform walks by the supreme leader have usually involved senior officials such as the SPA Presidium President, the DPRK Premier and the Chief of the KPA General Staff; instead, Kim Jong Un was accompanied by KPA General Political Department Director VMar Choe Ryong Hae and National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Jang Song Taek.  When taken with images and film footage of the war anniversary events from July,  Kim Jong Un’s balcony walk shows the DPRK’s top three political officials.

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.”

Kim Jong Un Meets with Syrian Delegation

25 Jul
Kim Jong Un (C) poses for a commemorative photograph with Assistant General Secretary of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party Abdullah al-Ahmar in Pyongyang on 24 July 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (C) poses for a commemorative photograph with Assistant General Secretary of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party Abdullah al-Ahmar in Pyongyang on 24 July 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) met with Syrian Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party Assistant General-Secretary Abdullah al-Ahmar and other members of a Syrian delegation on 24 July (Wednesday).  Attending the meeting with Kim Jong Un were Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department Kim Ki Nam, KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Kim Yang Gon and 1st Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Kye Gwan.  The Syrian delegation arrived in Pyongyang earlier on 24 July and were received at Pyongyang Sunan Airport by KWP Secretary and Director of International Affairs Kim Yong Il, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Hyong Jun and Haissam Saad, interim charge d’ affaires of the Syrian Embassy in the DPRK.  The delegation is one of many foreign delegations and groups visiting the DPRK to participate in events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the victory/armistice of the Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to the construction of a children’s hospital and dental hospital in Pyongyang.

According to KCNA, al-Ahmar “offered warmest congratulations to Marshal Kim Jong Un and the friendly Korean people on behalf of President Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian people on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War and expressed best wishes for Kim Jong Un’s good health and happiness and for the Korean people’s success in the efforts to build a thriving nation” and he “expressed belief that the relations of friendship and cooperation that exist between the Syrian Arab Republic and the DPRK would continue growing strong in the interests of the two peoples.”  Kim Jong Un “warmly welcomed the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic which made a long trip to come to the DPRK for taking part in the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War and extended a militant salute to President Bashar Al-Assad and the Syrian people.”  According to KCNA Kim Jong Un said “he was pleased to meet” al-Ahmar who had met with late DPRK founder and President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) on several occasions.  Kim Jong Un “noted it is a great encouragement to the Korean people that the party and government of Syria dispatched the delegation to the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the victory in the war.”  Kim Jong Un also “exchanged with the guests views on the issue of boosting the bilateral relations and other issues of mutual concern including the regional situation.”

Kim Jong Un’s meeting with Syrians “proceeded in a friendly and amicable atmosphere.”  After the DPRK-Syrian interaction, Abdullah al-Ahmar presented a gift to Kim Jong Un, who “expressed deep thanks.”

Kim Jong Un and senior DPRK officials meet with a  Syrian delegation in Pyongyang on 24 July 2013.  The Syrian delegation arrived earlier in the day to participate in events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of active hostilities of the Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un and senior DPRK officials meet with a Syrian delegation in Pyongyang on 24 July 2013. The Syrian delegation arrived earlier in the day to participate in events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of active hostilities of the Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

KJI Youngest Daughter Working as Events Manager for KJU?

22 Jul
Kim Yo Jong (L) attending her older brother Kim Jong Un's visit to the KPA Equestrian company (currently known as the Mirim Riding Club) in November 2012.  In the image on the right she is seen riding along side her aunt, KWP Secretary Kim Kyong Hui (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Yo Jong (L) attending her older brother Kim Jong Un’s visit to the KPA Equestrian company (currently known as the Mirim Riding Club) in November 2012. In the image on the right she is seen riding along side her aunt, KWP Secretary Kim Kyong Hui (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Yo Jong (Kim Yo’-cho’ng), the 26 year old sister of DPRK leader Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n), is working in the National Defense Commission [NDC] as her older brother’s trip director.  According to several ROK media reports, Kim Yo Jong is currently serving as a “protocol director” managing Kim Jong Un’s itineraries and public appearances and that “she started her career early last year [2012].”  While Kim may have been assigned her new position in early 2012, she has been active in the central party since 2009.

Kim has been observed on numerous occasions since 2009, when she accompanied her father, late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il), on guidance tours and inspections.  In 2010 she posed for a commemorative photograph with participants in the 3rd Party Conference, standing alongside KJI’s fifth wife Kim Ok which suggested that she was working in the Personal Secretariat.  In 2011 Kim Yo Jong was again observed at several of Kim Jong Il’s guidance tours, in the background with KJI’s personal aides and other Kim family members.

During events at her father’s funeral in December 2011, Kim was seen standing behind her brother as Kim Jong Un received foreign dignitaries.  She lined up with members of the leadership when they paid their respects at KJI’s casket. Twice during calling hours, she led core members of the DPRK leadership, standing in the center, in bowing at KJI’s remains; on one occasion she led Korean Workers’ Party Secretary and Director of the United Fron Kim Yang Gon, KWP Secretary for Machine-Building Industry Pak To Chun, KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs Kim P’yo’ng-hae and Gen. U Tong Chuk to KJI’s bier; on another occasion she led Kim Chang Son, Kim Kang Chol and other officials of KJI’s Personal Secretariat to the bier.  When a ceremony was held at Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun prior to the funeral service, Kim Yo Jong lined up with party elders Jon Pyong Ho, Choe Yong Rim and Kim Kuk Tae.

During 2012 and 2013 Kim Yo Jong has made several observed appearances, which ROK-based Pyongyang watchers link to her new role managing Kim Jong Un’s public appearances.  She was observed playfully jumping in the background during the opening of a park in Pyongyang in the spring of 2012.  In November the same year she attended Kim Jong Un’s visit to a Korean People’s Army equestrian training ground (now called the Mirim Riding Club).  Although her presence was not reported in DPRK state media, two images of her riding a horse, including one with her paternal aunt Kim Kyong Hui, were aired in the Korean Central Television news report of the visit.  Kim Yo Jong also was observed sitting with Kim Kyong Hui during a central party banquet in 2013.

Based on the description of her current role in support of her brother, Kim Yo Jong is working in a position similar to that of her older step-sister Kim So’l-song (Kim Sul Song).  For a number of years Kim So’l-song worked directly for Kim Jong Il, holding a Lt. Colonel’s rank in the Guard Command and managing KJI’s itineraries and some of the logistical and security arrangements around his public appearances.  After Kim Jong Il passed away, according to a well-placed DPRK source, Kim So’l-song moved into a more substantive managerial position (along with her husband) to support Kim Jong Un.  Due to Kim Yo Jong’s familial relationship to Kim Jong Un some ROK-based Pyongyang watchers have compared her with her aunt, Kim Kyong Hui (with whom Yo Jong has a close relationship) who began working at the age of 25 at the Korean Democratic Women’s Union in 1971.  Kim Yo Jong has other siblings and step-siblings who work around DPRK leadership circles including her oldest brother Kim Jong Chol (Kim Cho’ng-ch’o’l), who works in the KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department (note the name of the editor of Korea), and her older step-brother Kim Jong Nam, who manages several trading corporations.

Kim Yo Jong is Kim Jong Il’s youngest child and was the third child from his marriage to Ko Yong Hui (1953-2004).  She was born in Pyongyang in 1987.  Around 1996 Kim left the DPRK with Kim Jong Un to attend school in Berne, Switzerland.  With her brother she resided at a DPRK-owned residence.  Like her brother, she was registered at Swiss schools under an alias and was said to be the child of the residence’s domestic staff.  She was looked after by a small staff of women whom school officials felt overprotected her (for example, when she had minor illnesses she was taken to a local hospital).  Aside from holiday visits to her home country, Kim Yo Jong remained in Berne through 2001.  After her maternal aunt Ko Yong Suk defected to the west in 2001, Kim Yo Jong was removed from school in Switzerland and returned to the DPRK.  She completed her secondary and university education in her home country.  In 2004 her mother, Ko Yong Hui, passed away due to a recurrence of breast cancer.  In addition to Korean, she speaks some English and German.  When she was in her late teens, Kim Yo Jong expressed an interest in politics and DPRK political culture to her father, something about which he proudly discussed with foreign interlocutors.  In 2008, she was a constant presence at Kim Jong Il’s hospital bedside after he suffered two strokes.  Kim Yo Jong was groomed for a role in the country’s political affairs by her paternal aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, and her husband Jang Song Taek, and she began working in the Party Central Committee in 2009.

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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