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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.

Chinese Vice President Attends Anniversary Reception at DPRK Embassy in Beijing

14 Jun
DPRK Embassy in Beijing (Photo: Google image)

DPRK Embassy in Beijing (Photo: Google image)

DPRK state media reported that the DPRK Embassy in Beijing hosted a reception commemorating the 30th anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s “maiden visit” to China in 1983.  Attending the reception from the Chinese government were Vice President Li Yuanchao, Deputy Director of the Communist Party of China’s International Liaison Department Liu Jieyi and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin.  DPRK Ambassador to China Ji Jae Ryong and embassy personnel attended on behalf of the DPRK.  In his anniversary speech, according to KCNA, Ji Jae Ryong remarked “that the maiden visit to China by Kim Jong Il was a historic event which greatly contributed to putting on a new high stage the traditional DPRK-China friendship which was provided and cultivated by President Kim Il Sung together with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai and other leaders of the elder generation of China and stood all tests of history and to ensuring the peace and security in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world and advancing the human cause of independence against imperialism” and that “Kim Jong Un is paying deep attention to boosting the DPRK-China friendly relations true to the noble intention of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.”  Ji also said “we will as ever make joint efforts with Chinese comrades to steadily boost the traditional DPRK-China friendship.”

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao (L) and DPRK Ambassador to the PRC Ji Jae Ryong (R) spoke at an anniversary reception commemorating Kim Jong Il's 1983 visit to China held at the DPRK Embassy to China on 13 June 2013 (Photos: Xinhua and Yonhap)

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao (L) and DPRK Ambassador to the PRC Ji Jae Ryong (R) spoke at an anniversary reception commemorating Kim Jong Il’s 1983 visit to China held at the DPRK Embassy to China on 13 June 2013 (Photos: Xinhua and Yonhap)

According to KCNA, Li Yuanchao said in his speech that “Kim Jong Il worked heart and soul to develop the Korean revolution and construction and the traditional Sino-DPRK friendly relations and made important contributions” and “First Secretary Kim Jong Un in his recent personal letter sent to General Secretary Xi Jinping underlined the need to carry forward and develop the traditional Sino-DPRK friendly relations.”  Li also said “the Chinese party and government set great store by the Sino-DPRK friendly relations and the new collective leadership of the Communist Party of China will together with the party and government of the DPRK respect and trust each other and conduct friendly exchange and cooperation in the spirit of inheriting the tradition, facing up to the future, building good-neighborly friendship and strengthening cooperation and thus promote the development of the Sino-DPRK friendly relations and defend the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

The reception in Beijing followed a similar anniversary event hosted by the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Central Committee at the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang on 4 June.  The Pyongyang reception commemorating the 30th anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s visit to China was attended by PRC Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai, PRC Embassy personnel and Chinese nationals and students working in the DPRK.  KWP Secretary and Director of the International Affairs Department [IAD] Kim Yong Il attended the reception on behalf of the DPRK, and was joined by officials from the IAD, the DPRK Foreign Ministry and the National Defense Commission.

Chinese Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai (L) and KWP International Affairs Secretary Kim Yong Il (R) spoke at an anniversary event commemorating Kim Jong Il's 1983 visit to China, held at the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang on 4 June 2013 (Photos: PRC Embassy in the DPRK, NKLW file photo).

Chinese Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai (L) and KWP International Affairs Secretary Kim Yong Il (R) spoke at an anniversary event commemorating Kim Jong Il’s 1983 visit to China, held at the Koryo Hotel in Pyongyang on 4 June 2013 (Photos: PRC Embassy in the DPRK, NKLW file photo).

In his speech Kim Yong Il said “Kim Jong Il’s visit to China in June 1983 marked a historic event of weighty significance in boosting the traditional DPRK-China friendship generation after generation” and “recalled that senior officials of the party and state of China enthusiastically welcomed Kim Jong Il, who paid a maiden visit to their country as most important state guest and accorded him cordial hospitality with all sincerity.”  Kim Yong Il also remarked that “Kim Jong Il, setting greatest store by the DPRK-China friendship provided by President Kim Il Sung, exerted great efforts to make the deeply rooted friendship flourish and develop.  It is the noble duty and obligation of the present generation to steadily boost the precious DPRK-China friendship associated with great efforts of the leaders of the elder generation of the two parties and countries.  The recent visit paid by a special envoy of Comrade Kim Jong Un to China marked an important occasion in steadily boosting the DPRK-China friendly relations, wealth common to the peoples of the two countries, as required by the new times.”  According to KCNA, Kim also said that “tt is the unshakable political stand of the WPK and the government of the DPRK to steadily develop the DPRK-China friendship, he said, stressing that the WPK would in the future, too, to boost with vitality and dynamism the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries.”

Chinese Ambassador to the DPRK Liu Hongcai, according to KCNA, said “General Secretary Kim Jong Il visited China several times to forge close relations with Chinese party and state leaders and worked heart and soul to boost the Sino-DPRK friendly and cooperative relations” and that “China and the DPRK are the friendly neighbors linked by the same mountain and rivers, he said, stressing that it is the consistent stand of the Chinese party and government to steadily develop the Sino-DPRK friendly relations.”  Liu also said “the Chinese side deems it important to invariably develop the Sino-DPRK friendly relations on a strategic height and from a long-term viewpoint” and Liu “underscored the need to further value the Sino-DPRK friendship, the precious common treasure of the two peoples, and carry forward and develop it generation after generation.”  Liu “recalled that the special envoy of First Secretary of Kim Jong Un visited China and met with General Secretary Xi Jinping and other leading officials of China and had an in-depth and candid exchange of views on issues of common concern” and said “the relations between the two countries at present have entered a new historic phase. . .underlining the need to promote common development on the principles of mutual respect, mutual benefit and co-prosperity and thus bring welfare to the two peoples.”

The two events commemorating the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s visit to China in 1983 appear to be part of a reconciliation process between the DPRK and China.  The Beijing reception was attended by PRC Vice President Li Yuanchao, who visited the DPRK Embassy on a condolence call after Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011 and who lead a CPC delegation on an official visit to the DPRK in June 2011, during which he met with the late DPRK leader.  Also attending the Beijing anniversary event were Liu Jieyi, who escorted VMar Choe Ryong Hae during his visit to Beijing in May 2013, and Liu Zhenmin, who had previously participated in several senior DPRK-PRC interactions.

Former DPRK Vice Premier Kim Rak Hui Dies (updated on 20 February)

18 Feb
Kim Rak Hui(L), former DPRK Cabinet Vice Premier and former alternate of the KWP Political Bureau, recently deceased, talks with Kim Jong Il during a tour of Jaeryong Mine in South Hwanghae Province in March 2009 (R) (Photos: KCNA, KCTV screengrab)

Kim Rak Hui(L), former DPRK Cabinet Vice Premier and former alternate of the KWP Political Bureau, recently deceased, talks with Kim Jong Il during a tour of Jaeryong Mine in South Hwanghae Province in March 2009 (R) (Photos: KCNA, KCTV screengrab)

DPRK state media reported on 18 February (Monday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) sent a floral basket to the funeral of Kim Rak Hui (Kim Rak-hu’i; Kim Nak-hu’i), a former DPRK Cabinet Vice Premier and Alternate (candidate member) of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau.  According to KCNA, KJU expressed “deep condolences over her death.”  Kim Rak Hui made her last reported public appearances in early March 2012 when she attended a national meeting and concert held to celebrate International Women’s Day.  During the 5th session (plenum) of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] she was removed from office as Vice Premier and during the 4th Party Conference was removed as a Political Bureau Alternate in April 2012.  At the time of her removal from her positions, it had been speculated that she was part of a wave of dismissals and demotions that occurred after Kim Jong Un formally assumed the supreme leadership of the DPRK.  It appears now that it was due to her declining health and age.

According to KCNA, Kim Rak Hui was born in Kaechon**, South P’yo’ngan Province on 11 November 1933 and attended the University of National Economics.  During most of her career, she worked as a manager in the country’s cooperative farming system and rural management committees.  In the 1950s she served as chairwoman of the Ponghwa Kaechon Agricultural Committee and supervised war-time rationing and food distribution during the Korean (Fatherland Liberation) War.  She also led post-war reconstruction efforts in Kaech’o’n’s agricultural sites, for which she was awarded the state title of Labor Hero in 1955.  Her service during the war earned her the attention of then-leader Kim Il Sung.  She was elected a deputy (delegate) to the 2nd Supreme People’s Assembly in 1957, re-elected in to the 3rd SPA in 1962 and the 4th SPA in 1967.  In January 1965 she Kim Rak Hui concurrently served as chairwoman of the Kaech’o’n County KWP Committee and the Kaech’o’n County Agricultural Management Committee.  She was elected a member of the Party Central Committee at the 5th Party Congress in November 1970 and was re-elected to the 5th SPA in 1972.  She was a member of the Budget Committee of the 5th SPA.  During the 1970s she served as chairwoman of the North Hwanghae Province Rural Management Committee.  During the 7th session (plenum) of the 5th SPA held during 26-29 April 1977, Kim spoke in favor of passage of the Land Law of the DPRK.

At the 6th Party Congress in October 1980 Kim Rak Hui was downgraded to Alternate (candidate member) of the Party Central Committee.  In the early 1980s she served as the Chair of the Kaeso’ng City People’s Committee.  In 1990 she was appointed Chairwoman of the South P’yo’ngan Rural Management Committee.  In 1997 she was appointed deputy (vice) director of the KWP Agriculture Department (currently part of the KWP Finance and Planning Department), but continued to serve as an advisor to the South P’yo’ngan Rural Management Committee.  In 1994 Kim Rak Hui was a member of Kim Il Sung’s Funeral Committee  and in 1995 was a member of O Jin U’s funeral committee.  In celebrating International Women’s Day in 1999, DPRK state media identified her as “Korean women performed brilliant feats in the efforts to build a prosperous socialist country after the cease-fire.  Among them were women farmers across the country including Kim Rak Hui, who earned fame as a plough-girl in the wartime. . .”

Kim Rak Hui (annotated) accompanied Kim Jong Il on his guidance tours of the Jaeryong (Chaeryo'ng) Mine in South Hwanghae Province in March 2009 (Photos: KCNA)

Kim Rak Hui (annotated) accompanied Kim Jong Il on his guidance tours of the Jaeryong (Chaeryo’ng) Mine in South Hwanghae Province in March 2009 (Photos: KCNA)

Kim Rak Hui returned to political office in 2003 when she was elected a deputy (delegate) to the 11th SPA.  In June 2005 was was appointed Chief Secretary of the South Hwanghae Provincial KWP Committee.  She was elected to the 12th SPA and was attended Kim Jong Il’s guidance tour of the Chaeryo’ng Mine in March 2009.  In June 2010, Kim Rak Hui was appointed DPRK Cabinet Vice Premier during the 3rd session of the 12th SPA.  Kim was one of several provincial party secretaries appointed to serve either as Vice Premiers or leading officials of the Party Central Committee in June 2010 which included South P’yo’ngan Provincial Chief KWP Secrtary Ri Tae Nam’s appointment as Vice Premier, North Hamgyo’ng Provincial Chief KWP Secretary Hong Sok Hyong appointed as director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department and South Hamgyo’ng Provincial Chief KWP Secretary Tae Jong Su as director of the KWP General Affairs Department.  Kim Rak Hui (along with these other elites) was subsequently elected to the KWP Political Bureau during the 3rd Party Conference on 28 September 2010.

Kim Rak Hui (annotated) attends the U'nhasu Orchestra concert to mark International Women's Day on 8 March 2012, one of her last reported public appearances prior to her death (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

Kim Rak Hui (annotated) attends the U’nhasu Orchestra concert to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March 2012, one of her last reported public appearances prior to her death (Photo: KCTV screengrab)

From February to April 2011 Kim Rak Hui successfully led a Cabinet-level committee formed in response to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease [FMD] and  other potential epizootic outbreaks in the DPRK.  On 19 December 2011 she was listed at #21 on the national funeral committee formed after the death of Kim Jong Il.  Kim continued to make public appearances at national meetings and cultural events, and presided over awards presentation ceremonies.  Her last public appearances were at a national meeting at the People’s Palace of Culture and a concert by the U’nhasu Orchestra (attended by Kim Jong Un), both marking International Women’s Day.  She was quietly removed as DPRK Vice Premier in April 2012.

30 October 2012 meeting of war veterans and the leading officials of Kim Il Sung Youth League chapters of the Korean People's Army, an event at which Gen. Kwon Sang Ho spoke of his experience during the Korean War.  Gen. Kwon passed away in February 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

30 October 2012 meeting of war veterans and the leading officials of Kim Il Sung Youth League chapters of the Korean People’s Army, an event at which Gen. Kwon Sang Ho spoke of his experience during the Korean War. Gen. Kwon passed away in February 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs)

Kim Rak Hui was not the only DPRK elder to have recently passed away.  On 14 February DPRK state media reported that Kim Jong Un also sent flowers to the funeral for Gen. Kwon Sang Ho, a Korean (Fatherland Liberation) War hero and lecturer at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang.  Gen. Kwon’s last reported public appearance in state media was in October 2012 when he attended a meeting of the leading officials of the Kim Il Sung (Socialist) Youth League’s committees in the Korean People’s Army [KPA].  According to KCNA Gen. Kwon, and other war veterans, “told stories about how bravely they fought, cherishing warm love for the country liberated by Kim Il Sung and burning hatred for the enemy.”

**Kaech’o’n was a county-level administrative division and was upgraded to a city (municipality) in September 1990

Update

On 20 February (Wednesday) DPRK state media released a new item detailing Kim Rak Hui’s career and accomplishments, identifying her as the “initiator of the plowwoman movement”:

Pyongyang, February 20 (KCNA) — Kim Rak Hui (Nov. 1933-Feb. 2013) was a peasant who rose to fame as a plowwoman during the period of the Fatherland Liberation War (1950-1953).

Born in a rural community in South Phyongan Province, she worked as a weaver in her teens.

She began the plowwoman movement in March Juche 40 (1951) to contribute to supplying food to the People’s Army in the war. She attended a meeting of frontrunner farmers held in 1952 and was highly praised by President Kim Il Sung for her devoted service.

Later, she was honored to receive a letter of thanks from the President for her big contributions to providing much relief food to the warfront.

In the post-war period, she overfulfilled grain output quota each year, as the chairwoman of an agricultural cooperative.

Under deep trust of the President and leader Kim Jong Il, she became a deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly and had worked as chairwoman of a county cooperative farm management committee, chairwoman of a provincial rural economy committee, deputy director of the C.C., Workers’ Party of Korea, chief secretary of the South Hwanghae Provincial Committee of the WPK, and vice-premier and honorary councilor of the DPRK Cabinet.

She was awarded a lot of state citations, including Order of Kim Il Sung, Order of Kim Jong Il, title of Labor Hero and Order of National Flag 1st Class.

Some days ago, the dear respected Kim Jong Un sent a wreath to the bier of Kim Rak Hui to express his deep condolences over her death. -

Kim Jong Un Visits Ku’msusan and Attends Statue Unveiling Ceremony at Mangyongdae Revolutionary School

16 Feb
Kim Jong Un (C) pays his respects to statues of his father Kim Jong Il and his grandfather Kim Il Sung at Kumsusan in Pyongyang on 16 February 2013.  (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un (C) pays his respects to statues of his father Kim Jong Il and his grandfather Kim Il Sung at Kumsusan in Pyongyang on 16 February 2013. (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

DPRK state media reported on 16 February (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun and attended a statue unveiling ceremony at Mangyo’ngdae Revolutionary School to commemorate Kim Jong Il’s birthday.  KJU’s last reported public appearance was his attendance and participation at a watch presentation ceremony.  KJU’s first visit was to pay his respects to the remains of his father, late leader Kim Jong Il, at Ku’msusan.    He was accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju.  Also in attendance were VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Taek, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyong Hui, Pak To Chun, VMar Kim Yong Chun, VMar Hyon Chol Hae and members of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Central Military Commission [CMC], the DPRK National Defense Commission, members of the Korean People’s Army Supreme Command staff and senior KPA commanders Ju Kyu Chang, Gen. Kim Kyong Ok, Gen. Yun Jong Rin, Col. Gen. Choe Pu Il, Col. Gen. Ri Yong Gil, Col. Gen. Son Chol Ju, Lt. Gen. Ryom Chol Song, Col. Gen. Jo Kyong Chol, Gen. Yun Tong Hyon, Gen. Kang Phyo Yong, Gen. Ri Pyong Chol, Lt. Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, Lt. Gen. Pak Jong Chon, Col. Gen. Kim Chun Sam, Col. Gen. Kim Yong Chol and Col. Gen. Jon Chang Bok, among others.

A floral basket from Kim Jong Un in front of statues of his grandfather Kim Il Sung and father Kim Jong Il at Ku'msusan in Pyongyang on 16 February 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

A floral basket from Kim Jong Un in front of statues of his grandfather Kim Il Sung and father Kim Jong Il at Ku’msusan in Pyongyang on 16 February 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un and assembled company visited the statue hall for a ceremony at which an honor guard saluted the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and a sereis of floral baskets were placed before the statues.  KJU “entered the hall of immortality where Kim Jong Il lies in state” and “together with the participants, made bows to Kim Jong Il in the humblest reverence.”  After paying their respects, Kim Jong Un and members of the central leadership visited the exhibition of KJI’s personal affects and personal vehicles.

Kim Jong Un (4th R)  and members of the central leadership stand in front of statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il during an unveiling ceremony on the campus of Mangyo'ngdae School on 16 February 2013.  Among those in attendance in this image are: Gen. O Kuk Ryol (L), VMar Ri Yong Mu (2nd L) Kim Kyong Hui (3rd L), Kim Ki Nam (4th L), Choe Yong Rim (6th L), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (2nd R) and Jang Song Taek (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un (4th R) and members of the central leadership stand in front of statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il during an unveiling ceremony on the campus of Mangyo’ngdae School on 16 February 2013. Among those in attendance in this image are: Gen. O Kuk Ryol (L), VMar Ri Yong Mu (2nd L) Kim Kyong Hui (3rd L), Kim Ki Nam (4th L), Choe Yong Rim (6th L), Mangyo’ngdae School principal O Ryong Thaek (7th L), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (2nd R) and Jang Song Taek (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

A statue of late DPRK founder and president Kim Il Sung and late leader Kim Jong Il unveiled on the campus of the Mangyo'ngdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang on 16 February 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

A statue of late DPRK founder and president Kim Il Sung and late leader Kim Jong Il unveiled on the campus of the Mangyo’ngdae Revolutionary School in Pyongyang on 16 February 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un later visited Mangyo’ngdae Revolutionary School on Saturday where new statues of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung were unveiled and dedicated.  The statues depict KJI and KIS and embracing Mangyo’ngdae School students.  Attending the ceremony with KJU were DPRK Cabinet Premier Choe Yong Rim, Director of the KPA General Political Department VMar Choe Ryong Hae, NDC Vice Chairman and KWP Administration Department Director Jang Song Taek, Chief of the KPA General Staff Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, KWP Secretary and Department Director Kim Kyong Hui, KWP Secretary and Department Director Kim Ki Nam, NDC Vice Chairman and KWP Civil Defense Department Director VMar Kim Yong Chun, NDC Vice Chairman VMar Ri Yong Mu, NDC Vice Chairman Gen. O Kuk Ryol, 1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces and Director of the KPA General Logistics Department VMar Hyon Chol Hae and immediate past Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, Gen. Kim Jong Gak along with “officials of the party and armed forces organs, staff members and students of the school and its graduates, officials of units and military academies at all levels, service personnel of the KPA, military family members and officials and employees of the units who contributed to the erection of the statues and Pyongyangites.”

Ceremony unveiling a new statue of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mangyo'ngdae Revolutionary School's campus in Pyongyang on 16 February 2013 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun)

Ceremony unveiling a new statue of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mangyo’ngdae Revolutionary School’s campus in Pyongyang on 16 February 2013 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun)

The new statue (L) replaces an older statue of Kim Il Sung that had been on Mangyo'ndae Revolutionary School campus for a number of years.  The old KIS statue can seen in these images from Kim Jong Un's visit to the school in early 2012 (C) and in the background in a photo from a DPRK publication from the 1960s (R) (Photos: Rodong Sinmun, KCTV screengrab and Foreign Languages Publishing House)

The new statue (L) replaces an older statue of Kim Il Sung that had been on Mangyo’ndae Revolutionary School campus for a number of years. The old KIS statue can seen in these images from Kim Jong Un’s visit to the school in early 2012 (C) and in the background in a photo from a DPRK publication from the 1960s (R) (Photos: Rodong Sinmun, KCTV screengrab and Foreign Languages Publishing House)

Choe Yong Rim, VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Taek, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, Kim Ki Nam, O Ryong Taek and Kim Song Pong formally unveiled the KJI and KIS statues.  After the ceremonious unveiling of the statues floral baskets from Kim Jong Un, the KWP Central Committee and Central Military Commission and DPRK National Defense Commission (sent jointly), the KPA General Political Department, the KPA General Staff, the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, various KPA units and KPA military schools and training center were placed before the statues.  According to KCNA, ceremony participants “paid tribute to the Generalissimos in humblest reverence.”  Choe Ryong Hae delivered the ceremony’s keynote address.  According to a gist in KCNA Choe said:

Kim Jong Il deemed it as an important work for giving steady continuity to the bloodline of revolution to educate the children of revolutionary martyrs from the first day of his revolutionary leadership and paid deep attention to the work of the school in the grim days of leading to victory the confrontation with the U.S. and the struggle for defending socialism under the uplifted banner of Songun.

It was the unanimous desire of all teachers and pupils of the school and service personnel of the KPA to erect the statue of Kim Jong Il at the school where people erected Kim Il Sung’s statue for the first time in Korea at the initiative of anti-Japanese war hero Kim Jong Suk who took into consideration the ardent desire of the schoolers to see Kim Il Sung every day.

The ardent desire of the teachers and pupils and all service personnel has become a brilliant reality thanks to the intense loyalty and meticulous guidance of Marshal Kim Jong Un.

Rosy is the future of the children of revolutionary martyrs, the speaker said, calling for waging a dynamic struggle to reunify the country and accomplish the Juche-based revolutionary cause of Songun under the leadership ofKim Jong Un, the banner of eternal victory of the great Paektusan nation, as befitting the descendants of Generalissimo Kim Il Sung and the soldiers and disciples of Generalissimo Kim Jong Il.

After the speaking program, according to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “warmly acknowledged the cheers of all the participants.”

Kim Jong Il (L) and his mother Kim Jong Suk on a visit to Mangyo'ngdae Revolutionary School (R) in (ca.) 1947

Kim Jong Il (L) and his mother Kim Jong Suk on a visit to Mangyo’ngdae Revolutionary School (R) in (ca.) 1947 (Photo: Foreign Languages Publishing House/Party History Institute)

Image of the Kim Family in 1946.   In this image are Kim Jong Suk (L, seated), Kim Jong Il (2nd L) Kim Kyong Hui (3rd L), Kim Il Sung (4th L, seated) Kim Pyong Il (4th L) and of the children's caretakers, possibly Hong Ki-yo'n (5th L)

Image of the Kim Family in 1946. In this image are Kim Jong Suk (L, seated), Kim Jong Il (2nd L) Kim Kyong Hui (3rd L), Kim Il Sung (4th L, seated) Kim Pyong Il (4th L) and of the children’s caretakers, possibly Hong Ki-yo’n (5th L)

Leadership Notes

According to the official chronicles Kim Jong Il was born in a small wood house near Mt. Paektu on 16 February 1942.  According to Russian records, Kim Jong Il was born in February 1941 on a military base in Khabarovsk which housed members of the 88th Sniper Brigade under the Soviet Far East Command, of which KJI’s parents Kim Il Sung (1912-1994) and Kim Jong Suk (1917-1949) were members.  KJI grew up among Koreans, Korean-Chinese and Russians stationed on the base and was called by his Russian name Shura (or Yuri)  In his early childhood, KJI saw very little of Kim Il Sung, who traveled to Moscow twice or who was otherwise recovering from injuries and illnesses.  In 1944 Kim Jong Suk gave birth to a second son, Kim Pyong Il (whose Russian name was Alexandre), who died in 1947 after he drowned in a water retention pond at the family’s residence in Pyongyang.  In 1946, in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Suk gave birth to her last surviving child, daughter Kim Kyong Hui, currently a KWP Secretary and Department Director and one of the most powerful members of the DPRK elite.  Kim Jong Suk passed away in September 1949 due to complications from an extra-uterine pregnancy.

In an interesting move to commemorate the official 71st anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s birth, a new statue of KJI and his father was unveiled on the campus of the Mangyo’ngdae Revolutionary School.  There are a number of statues of Kim Il Sung (and as of 2012, KJI) around the DPRK, since the inception of the cult around Kim Il Sung and the Mangyo’ngdae Family (KIS, KJI, KJS and KJU).  However, the construction of the first known KIS statue and its dedication were initiated by Kim Jong Suk with the first KIS statue placed on the campus of the Mangyo’ngdae Revolutionary School in 1947 (“where the statue of the Suryo’ngnim [KIS] was reverently built for the first time in our country by the suggestion of Comrade Kim Jong Suk–an anti-Japanese hero–who kindly took note of the ardent wish of the students of the school who want to see the fatherly leader every day”).

Pyongyang watchers might also note the manner of dress of members of the core leadership at the visit to Ku’msusan and the statue dedication.  On the visit to Ku’msusan, senior male officials were attired in variants of the KPA dress uniform.  At the statue unveiling ceremony, some senior officials were attired in the clothing of senior party officials.  Also note that at Ku’msusan, Jang Song Taek stands at Kim Jong Un’s left in the image (Ri Sol Ju stands at KJU’s right), the same position at which he stood when KJU visited the memorial palace on 24 December 2012.

Jang Song Taek (in a KPA dress uniform) at KJU's visit to Ku'msusan on 16 Feburary 2013 (L) and on 24 December 2012 (R) (Photos: Rodong Sinmun)

Jang Song Taek (in a KPA dress uniform) at KJU’s visit to Ku’msusan on 16 Feburary 2013 (L) and on 24 December 2012 (R) (Photos: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Gak visits Ku'msusan on 16 February 2013 (L) and attends a national report meeting commemorating KJI's birth anniversary on 15 February 2013 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun and KCTV screengrab)

Kim Jong Gak visits Ku’msusan on 16 February 2013 (L) and attends a national report meeting commemorating KJI’s birth anniversary on 15 February 2013 (Photos: Rodong Sinmun and KCTV screengrab)

One of the most notable senior officials attending both events was Gen. Kim Jong Gak.  Gen. Kim (who was seemingly reduced in rank from Vice Marshal) joined KJU on his visit to Ku’msusuan and stood in the front row with KJU and other senior officials.  Kim Jong Gak also attended the national report meeting commemorating KJI’s at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium on 15 February (Friday), where he was seated on platform (rostrum) in the front row.  In November Kim Jong Gak was removed from his previous position as Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, and replaced by Gen. Kim Kyonk Sik.

Where did KJI Pass Away in a “State of Agitation”? (revised)

16 Jan
Kim Jong Il (front) at his last reported public appearance at the Kwangbok Market in December 2011.  This was the last image of the late leader when he was alive telecasted in DPRK state media before he died on 17 December 2011 (Photo:  Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Il (front) at his last reported public appearance at the Kwangbok Market in December 2011. This was the last image of the late leader when he was alive telecasted in DPRK state media before he died on 17 December 2011 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Chosun Ilbo, citing an anonymous source, reported in January that Kim Jong Il’s death on 17 December 2011 was precipitated by his anger after major leaks were discovered in a dam at the Hu’ich’o’n Power Station’s construction.  According to the unnamed source, “It wasn’t just a crack. The safety of the entire dam was in question.”  The leaks in the dam may have been due to rushed construction work, to complete the power station by April 2012, in time for celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the late DPRK President and founder, Kim Il Sung (KJI’s father).  DPRK state media editorials and essays published in 2010 and 2011 termed “Hu’ich’o’n Speed” the new “Ch’o’llima Speed” and one piece described the power station as the “forefront of the drive for building a thriving nation.”  The power station was completed and opened during a ceremony held on 5 April 2012 and, as of October 2012, was supplying electricity to Pyongyang.

The railway route Kim Jong Il would utilized if, as Chosun Ilbo claims, he traveled from Pyongyang to the Hu'ich'o'n Power Station, then died en route (Photo: Google image; route drawn by M. Madden)

The railway route Kim Jong Il would have utilized if, as Chosun Ilbo claims, he traveled from Pyongyang to the Hu’ich’o’n Power Station, then died en route (Photo: Google image; route drawn by M. Madden)

A view of the railway stations from which KJI would traveled from Pyongyang to the Hu'ich'o'n Power Station in December 2011, showing his main railway station in Ryongsong District, near the residential compound there, or the Pyongyang Central Railway Station VIP area which he also utilized (Photo: Google image; route drawn by M. Madden)

A view of the railway stations from which KJI would traveled from Pyongyang to the Hu’ich’o’n Power Station in December 2011, showing his main railway station in Ryongsong District, near the residential compound there, or the Pyongyang Central Railway Station VIP area which he also utilized (Photo: Google image; route drawn by M. Madden)

According to Chosun Ilbo‘s unnamed source, “After being briefed about the leak, Kim Jong-il lambasted officials and ordered them to repair it.  He rushed to make an on-site inspection of the facility unable to contain his anger and died suddenly.”  The South Korean (ROK) daily also reported that “Stress about the trouble at Huichon was apparently the last straw after Kim learned that steel and textile manufacturing plants, also touted as key projects, had serious defects as well.”  Kim Jong Il’s last reported public appearance was his visit to the Kwangbok Department Store.  At the time of KJI’s demise, the DPRK was also conducting two major interactions with the US in Beijing, one with US Ambassador Glyn Davies and one with US Special Representative Robert King.  Also, in Beijing on an official visit at the time, was DPRK Minister of Electronic Industry Han Kwang Bok, who was later removed from office.  It is possible that reports to KJI about these interactions, in addition to problems with the Hu’ich’o’n Power Station, sent KJI’s delicate cardiovascular condition over the edge.  Alastair Gale wrote a fascinating essay about this report for Korea Realtime.  The policy and political circumstances under which Kim Jong Il passed away may have affected a number of personnel and political decisions and activities that Pyongyang watchers beheld during 2012.

Chosun Ilbo undercut its own story, writing that “Kim Jong-il was famous for his nocturnal lifestyle and normally got up around noon.”  This information is a bit dated.  For many years, KJI was a night owl.  In the early years of his succession drive he stayed up awaiting ‘phone calls from his father (who also worked in the wee hours).  Later on, as he assumed more operational power and policy control, Kim Jong Il would start completing his office work late at night.  If he was hosting a close aide party or “secret” banquet he’d slip away early and head for his office where he’d read reports, documents and policy proposals until the early hours of morning.  He would retire to his quarters for a few hours’ rest and then appear back at whatever office out of which he was operating during the late morning or early afternoon.  KJI’s kept this nocturnal schedule until around 2007.  In 2007 he began to experience headaches and trouble with his eyesight while working.  This foreshadowed the subsequent health problems that culminated in a transient ischemic attack [TIA] followed by a major stroke during July and August 2008.

Even before his strokes in 2008, KJI had curtailed his late night office work.  At dinner party in the PRC Embassy in Pyongyang in January 2008, KJI smiled and said, “I am physically so much weaker than when I was younger.  Lately, I’ve been feeling even weaker.  In my office I sometimes feel dizzy and I get light-headed.  I can’t drink and I am on a diet.  What is even worse is that I can’t stay up late any more.  I am terribly bored every day.”  Between rumors about KJI’s problems in 2007-2008, and his own admissions to family members and foreign visitors, Chinese officials became somewhat concerned and began to compile observations and information about the late leader’s health.  The Chinese got a better view on KJI’s health on 18 June 2008 when Kim Jong Il met with Xi Jinping for over an hour.  Although Chinese observers said KJI kept his eyes closed and nodded as the Chinese spoke, he was “quick to respond” and “logical and coherent.”  While the KJI-Xi meeting provided the PRC a first-hand assessment of KJI’s physical and mental faculties, Xi’s visit to Pyongyang was the first stop on a five-nation tour of Chinese allies and Xi’s first foreign excursion after his appointment as China’s Vice President in March 2008.

View of KJI's main base of operations showing his headquarters (the KWP CC #1 Office), his personal clinic and two of the residences where he alternated staying when he was in the city centre of Pyongyang.  KJI's residential compounds in Ryongsong District and Kangdong County, and those lcoated in the provinces, also had clinic facilities and on-call medical personnel (Photo: Google image)

View of KJI’s main base of operations showing his headquarters (the KWP CC #1 Office), his personal clinic and two of the residences where he alternated staying when he was in the city centre of Pyongyang. KJI’s residential compounds in Ryongsong District and Kangdong County, and those lcoated in the provinces, also had clinic facilities and on-call medical personnel (Photo: Google image)

In any event, after 2007, Kim Jong Il ceased working in his office at night.  From 2008 to 2011, according to several sources and accounts, Kim Jong Il generally woke up early in the morning.  When not staying in his suite at Ponghwa Clinic, he received a daily medical check up either at his personal clinic in the central party complex or from medical personnel (working under the Guard Command and Personal Secretariat) at whatever residence at which he was staying.  When not conducting guidance tours of economic sites, public facilities or military field inspections, KJI was usually in his office by 9 AM.  In the last months of his life, Kim Jong Il kept a very busy public schedule.  Stewing over a misleading report about infrastructure work one frigid Saturday morning, it is entirely likely KJI decided to board his private train and see for himself what was happening at Hu’ich’o’n Power Station.

The Sojong VIP area in Pot'onggang District in central Pyongyang where KJI's official wife Kim Yong Suk and other DPRK elites (including Cabinet members reside).  His daughter, Kim So'l-song  has been said to have a home in this complex (Photo: Google image)

The Sojong VIP area in Pot’onggang District in central Pyongyang where KJI’s official wife Kim Yong Suk and other DPRK elites (including Cabinet members reside). His daughter, Kim So’l-song has been said to have a home in this complex (Photo: Google image)

View of the Sojong VIP neighborhood and its proximity to Ponghwa Clinic (hospital) where KJI stayed or received medical treatment during 2008-2011 (Photo: Google image)

View of the Sojong VIP neighborhood and its proximity to Ponghwa Clinic (hospital) where KJI stayed or received medical treatment during 2008-2011 (Photo: Google image)

And yet, perhaps Kim Jong Il did not expire on the mystery train.  On 27 December 2012,

Japan’s Shukan Bushun obtained documents from a country with close ties to the DPRK leadership which claimed that Kim Jong Il died on 16 December 2011 (Friday) after taking a nap in the home of his beloved daughter and close aide Kim So’l-song (Kim Sul-song).  Some details from Shukan‘s documents were churning through the Pyongyang rumor mill in December 2011 and January 2012, after KJI’s demise.  A person who had some knowledge about KJI’s activities and the Kim family’s interactions told me that prior to his death KJI had worked in his office on 16 December 2011, and at that time there was tension between himself and his hereditary successor Kim Jong Un.  A Korean Workers’ Party senior official who was a member of KJI’s entourage said that

Just after 7:00 a.m. on 15 December, Kim Jong Il secretly visited the Pyongyang University of Music and Dance and then the Hana Music Information Center. Around 9:00 a.m., he then went to give on-site guidance at a large department store (in the heart of the commercial area in the Kwangbok District) jointly financed by North Korea and China.  Kim Jong Il walked all around the three-story department store, inspecting it. However, during his inspection, he would walk a little ways, a pained expression would cross his face, and he would stop; then he would walk a bit more and stop again. He repeated that numerous times. Also during the inspection, he pointed out the false facts given in the reports by the senior officials in charge. At those times he got fairly worked up.

After his three hour visit to the department store, KJI returned to his office in the central party complex where he attended to some office work.  According to a media report from December 2011, citing an unnamed source, KJI had been in his office reviewing and signing documents during 15 to 16 December 2011.  On 16 December, according Shukan‘s documents and the foreign officials it interviewed, KJI canceled a guidance tour and remained at one of the two residences in central Pyongyang which he was using at the time.  On the afternoon of 16 December KJI, accompanied by a retinue of bodyguards, a personal assistant and a physician, visited the residence of his daughter Kim So’l-song.  Kim So’l-song is the daughter of KJI’s official wife, Kim Yong Suk, and was a close aide to her father managing some of his itineraries and security arrangements.  So’l-song is a Lt. Colonel in the KPA and was tied directly to the Guard Command.

The last known places where Kim Jong Il was present during 15-16 December 2011 (Photo: Google image)

The last known places where Kim Jong Il was present during 15-16 December 2011 (Photo: Google image)

KJI’s visit to So’l-song’s house was not unusual.  According both to Shukan Bushun and other sources, when he did not have official dinner engagements, KJI was a regular visitor to his daughter’s house, spending time with his grandchildren, So’l-song’s husband, his sister Kim Kyong Hui and his fifth wife (or consort) Kim Ok.  On 16 December KJI had dinner with So’l-song, her husband and children.  During the meal KJI consumed an unusually large amount of alcohol and neglected to take the medication mitigating the liquor’s effects on his kidneys.  After dinner, Kim Jong Il said that he would return to his own residence, after taking an hour’s rest at So’l-so’ng’s house.  An hour after KJI retired to nap, his personal aide heard the chiming of a medical alert device which KJI wore on his wrist.  According to a DPRK official “When So’l-song and her son, who had been talking in the living room, and an aide to Kim Jong Il went to the bedroom, they found that Kim Jong Il had fainted, with foam around his mouth. Later, Kim Jong Il’s main physician confirmed his death.”  After KJI passed away the central party initiated an enquiry into the circumstances of KJI’s demise–the results of this enquiry may explain why some of KJI’s personal aides fell by the wayside during the funeral events in late December 2011 (one day they were attending to Kim Jong Un and other core elites, and the next day they were no where to be seen).

The intelligence report, the DPRK and foreign officials interviewed by Shukan Bushun claimed that during the last year and a half Kim Jong Il’s mental and physical health declined.  A In June 2011 in a conversation with someone who knows members of the family, my friend said that “the father was not doing well. . . mentally” and said that KJI had become depressed (which would explain why he spent a lot of his public schedule watching concerts and other performances).  This same source and friend also said that he did not expect KJI to live much longer.  Shukan Bushun reported that KJI spent his free time watching television and surfing the Internet.  According to Shukan “But he whiled away his free time with television or the Internet, he hardly did any exercise. He set aside 40 minutes for walking, but he would spend more time sitting on the benches along his walking course than actually walking.”

Shukan Bushun reports that the main source of KJI’s melancholy was feuding with his son and hereditary successor, Kim Jong Un, particularly over personnel appointments.  According to Shukan Kim Jong Un was eager for a “generational change” in the 1st and 2nd tier central leadership of the party, army and government to which Kim Jong Il angrily remonstrated, “Despite the fact that after I am gone, it will still not be too late to use your people, why are you in such a rush to try to handle things your way?”

Despite the circumstances around KJI’s death, Kim So’l-song has become a close aide to Jong Un.  She was promoted into the KWP Organization Guidance Department and her husband is believed to be a close advisor to KJU.

n.b. Materials in this positing derive from my short book The Last Days of the Ryo’ngdoja (currently undergoing its 2nd edit) and a feature in Japanese press from 2009

National Meeting Marks 1 Year Anniversary of KJU as KPA Supreme Commander

30 Dec
Chief of the KPA General Staff Hyon Yong Chol (L) delivers a report at a national meeting marking the one year anniversary of Kim Jong Un's assumption of office as KPA Supreme Commander (Photos: Rodong Sinmun)

Chief of the KPA General Staff Hyon Yong Chol (L) delivers a report at a national meeting marking the one year anniversary of Kim Jong Un’s assumption of office as KPA Supreme Commander (Photos: Rodong Sinmun)

DPRK state media reported on 29 December (Saturday) that a national meeting was held at the 25 April House of Culture to mark the one year anniversary since Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) appointment and assumption of the office of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Supreme Commander.  Attending the meeting were Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium President Kim Yong Nam, DPRK Cabinet Premier Choe Yong Rim, Director of the KPA General Political Department Gen. Choe Ryong Hae, Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretaries Kim Ki Nam and Choe Tae Bok, Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, KWP Control Commission Chairman Kim Kuk Tae,  personnel who participated in the 12 December 2012 launch of the U’nha-3 rocket and “senior party, state and army officials, the chairpersons of the friendly parties, officials of party, armed forces and power organs, 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, labor innovators and other people.”

Chief of the KPA General Staff, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, delivered the report.  According to KCNA Hyon said in part:

Kim Jong Un’s assumption of the KPA supreme commandership was a historic event of great significance in developing the revolutionary armed forces in the DPRK and carrying out the revolutionary cause of Juche.

This gave a steady continuity to the tradition of arms of Mt. Paektu left by Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as the greatest legacy of patriotism and provided a sure guarantee for the ever-victorious future of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s Korea.

Marshal Kim Jong Un displayed distinguished military wisdom and qualifications as a brilliant commander, getting closely associated with arms in his teens. He made an immortal contribution to the development of the revolutionary armed forces as the closest Songun revolutionary comrade and military aide to leader Kim Jong Il, enjoying boundless reverence and trust from service personnel and people.

It is the greatest fortune and honor for the WPK, the army and people to hold Kim Jong Un, another great man of Mt. Paektu type, at the top post of the revolutionary armed forces and glorify the history and tradition of ever-victorious Songun revolution down through generations.

Kim Jong Un is a genius of military affairs who is further developing Juche-based military idea and theory with his brilliant wisdom and rare commanding art and ushering in a heyday of army-building.

He has successfully carried forward the Juche-oriented idea and theories of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on army building, clearly indicating the path of eternal victory for the powerful revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu.

He is an iron-willed brilliant commander as he firmly defends the country, revolution and socialism with his matchless pluck and grit.

He truly represents the might of the great Paektusan power and the banner of its eternal victory as he resolutely safeguards the country, revolution and socialism with his matchless pluck and toughest counter-measure at the supreme headquarters on the forefront of revolution and draws an arrow for the victory in the great battle for national reunification.

He is a great master of creation and construction as he let the revolutionary army play a vanguard role in working miracles in the drive for prosperity.

He is not only a peerlessly illustrious commander demonstrating the might of the powerful revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu, the military power of Juche, with his outstanding idea and experienced and tested leadership ability and noble virtues but the great sun in the new century as he carves out a bright future for the Korean nation and mankind.

According to KCNA, Hyon also “called for building a thriving socialist nation at an early date, achieving national reunification and accomplishing the revolutionary cause of Juche, true to the idea and leadership of Kim Jong Un, adding that the country’s reunification was the life-long desire of the great Generalissimos and the greatest historic task of the nation the fulfillment of which is desired by the Korean people so much.”  The report concluded:The army and people of the DPRK who are always keeping sharp eyes on the anti-DPRK war maneuvers of the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean warmongers will firmly guarantee the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula with an invincible military capacity and surely achieve the historic cause of national reunification by the concerted efforts of all Koreans, the reporter declared, stressing that only victory and glory are in store for the DPRK advancing under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, holding high the flag of the WPK as the supreme colors of revolution.”

Mystery Man at Memorial Events (Updated)

17 Dec
The mystery man (annotated) visited Ku'msusan with Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and other members of the central leadership (Photo: KCTV-Yonhap)

The mystery man (annotated) visited Ku’msusan with Kim Jong Un (2nd L) and other members of the central leadership (Photo: KCTV-Yonhap)

UPDATE:  Yonhap, citing an unnamed South Korean [ROK] government source,  reported on 18 December (Tuesday) that the mystery man at the memorial events is most likely Choe Chun Sik, who serves as Director of the Second National Academy of Sciences [SANS], an agency subordinate to the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Machine-Building Industry Department.  SANS is involved in the research and development of rockets and missiles and provided the experts and technicians involved in 12 December 2012 launch of the U’nha-3.  SANS headquarters are located near the Sanum-dong Research and Development campus in Pyongyang from where the rocket and component parts were shipped to the Sohae Space Center in early November.

ORIGINAL PIECE

Pyongyang watchers and the South Korean media are puzzling over the identity of a man observed to be on Kim Jong Un’s side at the 16 December memorial service and the 17 December visit and ceremony at Ku’msusan Memorial Palace.  During the national memorial service commemorating the one-year anniversary of the death of DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, the mystery man was seated on the platform (rostrum) at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium at KJU’s left.  At the ceremony inaugurating the renovation of the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace, the same man stands at KJU’s right on the platform overlooking the Ku’msusan plaza.  During the leadership’s visit inside Ku’msusan, the man stands on KJU’s right.  The mystery man appears to displace Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department, and stands along side other members of the Korean Workers’ Party Political Bureau.  In a report about KJU’s visit to Ku’msusan Yonhap says that ” North Korean figures’ positions at official events are key signs indicating their ranks and levels of importance in the regime.”

The mystery guest on the platform overlooking Ku'msusan Plaza at a ceremony opening the renovated Ku'msusan Memorial Palace on 17 December 2012.  Also in in attendance are Kim Kyok Sik (L), Hyon Yong Chol (2nd L), Jang Song Taek (3rd L), Choe Ryong Hae (4th L, speaking at a lectern) Kim Jong Un (3rd R) Kim Yong Nam (2nd R) and Choe Yong Rim (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

The mystery guest on the platform overlooking Ku’msusan Plaza at a ceremony opening the renovated Ku’msusan Memorial Palace on 17 December 2012. Also in in attendance are Kim Kyok Sik (L), Hyon Yong Chol (2nd L), Jang Song Taek (3rd L), Choe Ryong Hae (4th L, speaking at a lectern) Kim Jong Un (3rd R) Kim Yong Nam (2nd R) and Choe Yong Rim (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

It is highly likely the man is from the Korean Committee for Space Technology [KCST] and was a key official in the 12 December 2012 launch of the U’nha-3.  When Kim Jong Un visited the Sohae Space Center, DPRK state media reported that he invited personnel “to come to Pyongyang and visit together with him Kim Jong Il who lies in state at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to make a report to him on the successful launch of the satellite.”  State media reported on 15 December (Saturday) KCST personnel arrived in Pyongyang by train.  They were presented with floral bouquets and greeted by “members of the Political Bureau, secretaries, first vice department directors, vice department directors and other officials of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and commanding officers of the Korean People’s Army,” before being bused to their accommodation.  Between 2009 and 2012, there have been a number of events held in Pyongyang to honor exemplary workers from the provinces, war veterans and participants inmeetings of national Workers’ Organizations.  For each of these events, a few members of the Political Bureau, Secretariat or DPRK Government either greeted these various honorees and meeting participants at the railway station or visited them at their accommodation.  However, in this extraordinary circumstance a number of unnamed senior officials were dispatched to the railway station to receive the KCST personnel.  KCNa news items on the memorial events attended by KJU gave the KCST personnel prominent coverage in the attendance lists.  All of this attention by DPRK state media and DPRK leadership may underscore the mystery’s man’s role in the U’nha-3 launch, his institutional affiliation and why he was allowed to jump the queue at the memorial events.

KCNA’s English report about the Ku’msusan ceremony had one unusual name in its list of DPRK leadership in attendance: Choe Chun Sik.  Mr. Choe is listed after all other KWP Political Bureau Members and Alternates (candidate members) in attendance.  Choe is an alternate (candidate member) of the KWP Central Committee.  Whilst I labor through a search of my documents in my MacBook Pro, hard drives and notes to see what Mr. Choe’s daily responsibilities are, a quick and dirty search revealed that Choe Chun Sik was listed at #155 on the KJI National Funeral Committee List reported on 19 December 2011.  Mr. Chun is listed one spot above Ri Je Son (#156), the Director-General of the DPRK General Department of Atomic Energy.  If the mystery man at KJU’s side is Choe Chun Sik, it is likely he was listed last because he is neither a member nor alternate of the KWP Political Bureau and DPRK news writers listed the attendees according to their Political Bureau hierarchy.  Choe’s attendance was likely a last-minute addition.  His appearance at KJU’s side reflected his status as an honored guest at the memorial events, but because he is not (as yet, any way) a Political Bureau member/alternate, his name is listed further down in state media reporting.  This practice in DPRK news reporting is similar to coverage of KPA field inspections or guidance tours in which the commanding officers or local managers/party officials are seen at KJU’s side, but their names are listed separately or unreported altogether from the list of senior officials in KJU’s entourage.

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