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New Director of Party Finance and Accounting Department (revised)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Parts of Munsu Wading Pool Similar to Kim Family Compound

9 Jul
Kim Jong Un tours the construction of the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang in May 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours the construction of the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang in May 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The construction of the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang is part of Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) implemenation of his father’s, late leader Kim Jong Il, “behests” and part of KJI’s practice of indok politics.  In February 2013 Kim Jong Un issued an instruction to the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and Korean People’s Army [KPA] personnel to construct the water park.  The MPAF and KPA staged a meeting, led by Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, on 7 February 2013 at which it was “stressed the need to ensure the quality in construction on the highest level under the motto of taking responsibility for the safety of projects and guaranteeing their absolute quality for all eternity by overcoming difficulties and hardships with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in every work site for the country’s prosperity and the people’s happiness in the past.” The Munsu Wading Pool was listed a major project as part of “face-lifting” Pyongyang during a meeting of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau held in February.

During May 2013, Kim Jong Un visited the construction of the water park as part of a tour of construction projects in and around Pyongyang.  DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju also visited the construction in May.  VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department, has visited the water park’s construction twice with the first time being in February after ground was broken on the project, and in late June.  The Munsu Wading Pool project has recently been included as part of the “Masikryo’ng Speed” campaign.

Color poster of the design of the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang (Photo: KCTV/KCNA screengrab).

Color poster of the design of the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang (Photo: KCTV/KCNA screengrab).

An official documentary film chronicling Kim Jong Un’s public activities in May 2013 provided greater detail about the Munsu Wading Pool’s design.  A full-color poster of the design shows that the water park will have several swimming pools, a wave pool, a “lazy river” for inner tubing, an artificial waterfall, a tennis court, beach (sandy) volleyball court and other sports facilities.  While the Munsu Wading Pool’s has a similar layout and design to other water parks elsewhere in the world, there are some areas of the park which will have distinct DPRK characteristics.

An April 2012 satellite image showing the Ryo'ngso'ng, or Su'ngbo'p, Residential Compound in the northern outskirts of Pyongyang.  This is one of the 10 major VIP compounds inhabited by members of the Kim Family, including late leader Kim Jong Il and his son Kim Jong Un and other DPRK elites (Photo: Digital Globe).

An April 2012 satellite image showing the Ryo’ngso’ng, or Su’ngbo’p, Residential Compound in the northern outskirts of Pyongyang. This is one of the 10 major VIP compounds inhabited by members of the Kim Family, including late leader Kim Jong Il and his son Kim Jong Un and other DPRK elites (Photo: Digital Globe).

In planning the Munsu Wading Pool, the architects have borrowed at least one waterslide and several buildings found on the premises of the Kim family’s Ryo’ngso’ng (or Su’ngbo’p) residential compound in the Ryo’ngso’ng District in northern Pyongyang.  The Ryo’ngso’ng compound is approximately 12.8 km (7.9 miles) north of central Pyongyang within the northern boundaries of the DPRK capital’s Inland Empire**.  The compound includes one of Kim Jong Il’s private railway stations (including carriage repair and maintenance facilities), a C2 facility, a C4ISR UGF (call it a DPRK leadership panic room), a horse racing track, bridleways, a rifle range,  numerous guest houses and private residences for DPRK elites and several large, luxurious homes inhabited by members of the Kim family.

A water slide in the design for the Munsu Wading Pool (Photo: KCTV/KCNA screengrab).

A water slide in the design for the Munsu Wading Pool (Photo: KCTV/KCNA screengrab).

A water slide at the outdoor swimming pool at the Ryo'ngso'ng residential compound which may have been used in the design of the Munsu Wading Pool.  As of 2012 the outdoor swimming pool and water slide have been removed (Photo: Digital Globe).

A water slide at the outdoor swimming pool at the Ryo’ngso’ng residential compound which may have been used in the design of the Munsu Wading Pool. As of 2012 the outdoor swimming pool and water slide have been removed (Photo: Digital Globe).

DPRK architects modeled one of the waterslides planned for Munsu Wading Pool on a tube slide found at the outdoor pool of the Ryo’ngso’ng residential compound.  The Ryo’ngso’ng residential compound has undergone several renovations since Kim Jong Il’s death in December 2011.  Satellite imagery showed that construction work was under way in April 2012, with a crew expanding one of the large houses, demolishing part of a residence for Personal Secretariat staff and a convoy of dump trucks hauling materials and debris from the compound.  Satellite images taken later in 2012 (and available through several online mapping resources such as Google Maps/Earth) showed that one house used by Kim Jong Il had been completely demolished.  Interestingly, the 2012 renovation of the Ryo’ngso’ng compound included the removal of the tube waterslide and the outdoor swimming pool.  This raises the possibility that the water slide was disassembled and repurposed for the Munsu Wading Pool or another amusement park or alpamare in Pyongyang.

Twin pyramids which are part of the design for the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang (Photo: KCTV/KCNA screengrab).

Twin pyramids which are part of the design for the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang (Photo: KCTV/KCNA screengrab).

An April 2012 satellite image of twin pyramids at the Ryo'ngso'ng residential compound in northern Pyongyang which may have inspired the pyramids planned for the Munsu Wading Pool.  According to some accounts these pyramids are spa and sauna facilities for members of the Kim family and other DPRK elites who reside on the compound (Photo: Digital Globe).

An April 2012 satellite image of twin pyramids at the Ryo’ngso’ng residential compound in northern Pyongyang which may have inspired the pyramids planned for the Munsu Wading Pool. According to some accounts these pyramids are spa and sauna facilities for members of the Kim family and other DPRK elites who reside on the compound (Photo: Digital Globe).

The Munsu Wading Pool’s design also envisions two pyramid-shaped structures located along the water park’s southern perimeter.  The two pyramid-shaped structures at Munsu, topped by two silver square structures, are a smaller, less grand versions of two pyramids at the Ryo’ngso’ng compound.  According to several accounts from people who visited or worked at the Ryo’ngso’ng compound, the two pyramids house bathing, spa and sauna facilities.  It is possible that the twin pyramids in the Munsu park’s design will serve a similar purpose.

A planned structure planned on the southern perimeter of the Munsu Wading Pool.  A structure with a similar design is planned to abut this building and can be seen in the bottom right of the design's poster (Photo: KCTV/KCNA screengrab).

A planned structure planned on the southern perimeter of the Munsu Wading Pool. A structure with a similar design is planned to abut this building and can be seen in the bottom right of the design’s poster (Photo: KCTV/KCNA screengrab).

An April 2012 satellite image showing the main banquet hall and entertainment center at the Ryo'ngso'ng residential compound.  The design for this building appears to have been modified and applied to the service and amenities buildings planned for construction on the southern perimeter of the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang (Photo: Digital Globe).

An April 2012 satellite image showing the main banquet hall and entertainment center at the Ryo’ngso’ng residential compound. The design for this building appears to have been modified and applied to the service and amenities buildings planned for construction on the southern perimeter of the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang (Photo: Digital Globe).

South and east of the twin pyramids at Munsu Wading Pool, the architects have planned several rectangular and circular structures.  These buildings might include patios, restaurants or snack bars, locker rooms (dressing rooms), indoor recreation facilities and the water park’s administrative and technical offices.  These buildings lining the water park’s southern perimeter have a highly similar design and are an expansion of the Ryo’ngso’ng compound’s main banquet hall and entertainment facilities.

There are a few implications (take aways, if you like) to the core leadership approving a design based on one of the Kim Family’s “special pavilions.”  It fits an overall pattern, which began when Kim Jong Il was still alive in which food factories, shops and other aspects of the county’s so-called court economy are either publicized or DPRK citizens (a relative term when applied to Pyongyangites) are given access to them.  It is highly likely that the designs for the Munsu Wading Pool came from a branch of the Paektusan Academy of Architecture.

**The Pyongyang Inland Empire is a term I coined in a conversation with a close colleague when discussing Kim Jong Un’s tendency to remain primarily in Pyongyang during most of 2012 and part of 2013.  It refers to sections of Pyongyang running from the northern outskirts of the city (south of the Pyongyang Airport) south to the area around Ku’msusan Palace then through the city centre (KIS Square, central party complex) and west into the Mangyo’ngdae District with parts of it sitting east on either side of the Taedong River in Samso’k District and the Taedonggang District.  It includes a series of private roads, the country’s “secret subway” and includes a network of underground residential facilities (the Suryo’ng bunkers) which Kim Jong Il used from time to time.  In addition to underground facilities and special roads, the Pyongyang Inland Empire is highly secure and protects the country’s leader (and other elites) behind four dedicated layers of security personnel (Guard Command –> Ministry of People’s Security –> Pyongyang Defense Command –> III Army Corps).

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

The Ghosts of Cadres Past

12 Dec
(Photos: KCNA)

(Photos: KCNA)

Since the beginning of December, DPRK state media has gradually released a series of news items and photo essays in commemoration of the one year anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s demise.  On 17 December 2011 Kim Jong Il passed away, according to the official chronicles, of a heart attack on a railway carriage during his field guidance and inspection tours.  A series of images published by Rodong Sinmun show several officials who were publicly retired or died under questionable circumstances during the transition from Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Un.

Typically, the DPRK’s image makers hit the “crop” function to delete the politically departed, the unpersons, from the official photographs (or otherwise pixellate their faces from the official documentary films).  There are a number of senior officials who were dismissed or disappeared who have not appeared in the ongoing RS series–including Pak Nam Gi (only shown in profile) and VMar Ri Yong Ho (Ri Yong Who?).  However, four officials believed to have been bounced by the Center appear in some of the photos .  This suggests that some officials may have been shuffled out simply due to old age or that their perceived political sins have been absolved.

Jon Pyong Ho Jon was the Korean Workers’ Party’s  [KWP] chieftain of all military, arms and munitions production.  Jon was the institutional godfather of the DPRK’s strategic weapons programs and managed the 2006 and 2009 experimental nuclear detonations and several missile and rocket tests in the 1990s and 2000s.  Prior to the 3rd Party Conference on 28 September 2010 Jon migrated his executive role in the DPRK’s arms industry to serving as the DPRK Cabinet’s chief political manager.  After the 3rd Party Conference he retained his membership on the KWP Political Bureau, but was replaced as the party’s secretary for military industry.  In April 2011 he was publicly retired as a member of the DPRK National Defense Commission.  In December 2011 Jon was listed as #6 on the national funeral committee for Kim Jong Il and prominently attended several funeral-related events.  One of his last reported public appearances was at a mourning ceremony for KJI in March 2012.  At the 4th Party Conference Jon was removed from the KWP Political Bureau.  Some Pyongyang watchers have interpreted Jon’s removal from office as an active purge by Kim Jong Un.  However, his prominence in this image from a 2005 visit to the Rakwo’n Machine Complex in Sinu’iju implies that Jon’s role remains honored by the new leadership.

Jon Pyong Ho attends KJI's tour of the Rakwo'n Machine Complex in January 2005 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Jon Pyong Ho attends KJI’s tour of the Rakwo’n Machine Complex in January 2005 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

VMar Kim Il Chol From 1997 to 2007 VMar Kim was the Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, a figurehead of the Korean People’s Army.  A longtime commander of the KPA Navy Command, Kim played a key operational role in the 1968 capture of the USS Pueblo. In May 2010, in a rare communique, the National Defense Commission publicly retired him  of “his posts” “due to advanced age.”  At the time of his dismissal the NDC had two other members–Jon Pyong Ho and VMar Ri Yong Mu–who were several years older than Kim.  According to a recent (and likely erroneous) report in South Korean media, he was executed last year.  VMar Kim appears in several of the KJI memorial images, including this image from a KJI visit with disabled veterans in April 2003.  While VMar Kim may have been a misfit toy, the current leadership is not ignoring his many years of service.

VMar Kim Il Chol (annotated) attends a KJI meeting with veterans in April 2003 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

VMar Kim Il Chol (annotated) attends a KJI meeting with veterans in April 2003 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ri Tae Nam Ri was from a rare genus of DPRK elites, being both a technocrat and experienced political manager.  In 2010 he was appointed a DPRK Cabinet Vice Premier at the 3rd session (plenum) of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] and during the 3rd Party Conference he was elected an alternate (candidate member) of the KWP Political Bureau.  In April 2011 Ri was removed as Vice Premier, at the 4th session of the 12th SPA “for his health reason,”  Ri also lost his alternate status on the Political Bureau.  However he was listed at #28 on Kim Jong Il’s funeral committee, after all other Political Bureau members and alternates.  Ri appears in some of the KJI memorial images from the early 2000s when Ri was the party’s chief secretary in South Hamgyo’ng Province.

Ri Tae Nam attends KJI's inspection of the Kumjin River Power station in November 2000 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ri Tae Nam attends KJI’s inspection of the Kumjin River Power station in November 2000 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ri Tae Nam takes notes during KJI's visit to a goat farm in Hamhu'ng, South Hamgyo'ng Province in May 2001 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ri Tae Nam takes notes during KJI’s visit to a goat farm in Hamhu’ng, South Hamgyo’ng Province in May 2001 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ri Je Gang Ri was one of Kim Jong Il’s closest aides.  He was a key administrative gatekeeper responsible for channeling documents, policies, faxes to and from KJI.  He also hired the technical and clerical staff who worked directly for KJI and signed off on a number of personnel appointments from internal security managers to the young women who sang, danced and conversed with KJI and other core elites at social occaisions.  A lot of reporting and analysis has focused on Ri’s close ties to Ko Yong Hui which was the apotheosis of Kim Jong Un’s hereditary succession, but he was also close to KJI’s eldest son Kim Jong Nam.  In June 2010 DPRK state media reported that Ri Je Gang was killed in a car accident.  Despite the fact that his funeral was quick and private, and the central party garage neither took posession of the damaged car nor receivied a formal accident report, Ri was buried with the stars commensurate to a key official.  Ri’s death has been linked to an alleged rivalry with Jang Song Taek (a rivalry which was never conclusively established).  Considering Ri Je Gang’s prominence in two images released to memorialize KJI, Ri’s death may been tied to a political fight with DPRK elites other than Mr. Jang.

Ri Je Gang attends Kim Jong Il's visit to the Taedonggang Foodstuff Factory in September 2009 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ri Je Gang attends Kim Jong Il’s visit to the Taedonggang Foodstuff Factory in September 2009 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ri Je Gang attends KJI's visit to the indoor swimming pool at Kim Il Sung University in September 2009 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Ri Je Gang attends KJI’s visit to the indoor swimming pool at Kim Il Sung University in September 2009 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

The website NK News has swapped the European royal court playing card decks (dating back several centuries) for members of the DPRK leadership.  That next canasta cruise on the Taedong or your quiet cribbage game at the Hyangsan Hotel won’t be complete without dealing Kim Ki Nam or Choe Yong Rim from the bottom of the deckThe DPRK leadership playing cards can be obtained from NK News.

Kim Jong Un and DPRK Leadership Ride Horses During Inspection of KPA Equestrian Training Ground (updated)

20 Nov

Kim Jong Un rides at the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534, which he later named the Mirim Equestrian Club. Riding alongside him are Gen. Hyon Yong Chol (L), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (background) and Jang Song Taek (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

DPRK state media reported on 19 November (Monday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) inspected the equestrian company of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Unit #534.  KJU’s last reported public appearance was his attendance at a commemorative photograph session with participants in the 4th National Meeting of Mothers.  At the beginning of his inspection Kim Jong Un saw “training facilities and horses which lined for training, he watched service personnel’s training of horse riding.”

Kim Jong Un shakes hands with a a KPA commander who appears to be Gen. Kim Kyok Sik. Also seen in attendance is VMar Choe Ryong Hae (background, C) (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un (front row, R) dons a pair of customized Ray Ban sunglasses favored by his father, Kim Jong Il (1941-2011), and mother, Ko Yong Hui (1953-2004), during an inspection of the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534. Also seen in attendance is Jang Song Taek (L). Also seen in attendance in this image behind KJU and JST are: Kim Pyong Hae (L), Pak Pong Ju (back to camera, 2nd L), Kim Kyong Ok (3rd L), Gen. Pak Jae Gyong (3rd R) and VMar Choe Ryong Hae (2nd R) (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un salutes members of the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534 (Photo: KCNA)

Officers and service members of the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534 (Photo: KCNA)

Jang Song Taek (L) and Kim Jong Un (R) (Photo: KCNA)

At his inspection of this company of KPA Unit #534 KJU was accompanied by his sister Kim Yo Jong (Kim Yo’-cho’ng),  VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department [bureau]), Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary and KJU’s aunt), Jang Song Taek (National Defense Commission Vice Chairman and KJU’s uncle), Gen. Hyon Yong Chol (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation [publicity and information] Department), Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim Pyong Hae (KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang Cuty [municipal] KWP Committee), Pak Pong Ju (Director of the KWP Light Industry Department), Han Kwang San (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department), Kim Kyong Ok (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Ri Ryong Ha (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department),  Hwang Pyo’ng-so (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Kim Pyong Ho (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department), Gen. Choe Pu Il (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff and Commanding Officer of the KPA Northeast Military District), Col. Gen. Son Chol Ju (KPA Supreme Command), Gen. Pak Jae Gyong (Deputy [Vice] Director of the KPA General Political Department), Lt. Gen. Pak Jong Chon (KPA Supreme Command), Gen. Kim Yong Chol (Director of the NDC Reconnaissance Bureau) and Col. Gen. Jon Chang Bok (Deputy [vice] Director of the KPA General Logistics Department).

Members of the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534 participate in a racing exercise (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un talks with members of the DPRK leadership about the premises of the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534, which were renamed the Mirim Horse Riding Club. Also seen in attendance is Kim Kyong Ok (L) (Photo: KCNA)

Senior Deputy (1st Vice) Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department and Member of the KWP Central Military Commission Kim Kyong Ok (L) talks to Kim Jong Un (Photo: KCNA)

According to KCNA “watching their brave training, he was satisfied with the fact that commanding officers and men are possessed of the admirable horsemanship” and KJU “recollected with deep emotion the feats performed by leader Kim Jong Il in guiding the work at this training ground, saying that President Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were very good at riding horses.”  KJU and members of the DPRK leadership in attendance then rode horses around the premises.  KJU remarked that the equestrian grounds were “fairly good for riding.”  According to KCNA Kim Jong Un said, “If this training ground which was visited by Kim Jong Il several times is rebuilt into a modern ground for horse riding, this will mean better preservation and consolidation of the precious legacy left by him.”  One of these inspections to the equestrian grounds by Kim Jong Il was made in early November 2008, and was one of his first reported public appearances after recuperating from a series of strokes in July and August 2008.

Kim Jong Un on a horse during an inspection of the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534. A member of the Guard Command can be seen in the bacgkround. (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un rides during a visit to the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534 (Photo: KCNA)

(Photo: KCNA)

KWP Secretary and Political Bureau Member Kim Kyong Hui rides during her nephew’s inspection of the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534 (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Yo Jong, KJU’s younger sister and the niece of Kim Kyong Hui and Jang Song Taek, rides during her brother’s tour of the equestrian grounds. (Photo: KCTV/KCNA screengrab)

NDC Vice Chairman and KWP Administration Department Director, Jang Song Taek, rides during his nephew’s inspection of the equestrian company of KPA Unit #534 (Photo: KCNA)

KJU then named the equestrian ground of KPA Unit #534 the “Mirim Horse Riding Club” and he “called for renovating horse-riding club at an early date and presenting it to the people.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said:

Horse-riding is a very good exercise helpful for nurturing bravery.  It will help strengthen healthy spirit and physical body conducive to labor and defense.  Regular horse-riding exercises from early years based on education will develop muscles and prevent back ache even after becoming adults.  Horse-riding has caught worldwide interest.  Koreans have been fond of riding horses from the olden times and frequently held competitions on horseback, thus training their body and mind.  When renovated, the horse-riding club will attract lots of working people, youth and students.  The horse-riding will help them train their body and mind and give them pride and joy.  Roller skating wind is raging after the creation of skate parks in different parts of Pyongyang.  The same thing will happen after the creation of horse-riding club.  To promote horse-riding, it is necessary to provide necessary conditions.  It is necessary to arrange horse-riding club and, at the same time, create horse-riding school and teach not only horse-riding but horse breeding and taming.  Breeding healthy horses is important for the well operation of horse-riding club.

KCNA reported that KJU instructed “solving in time problems arising in breeding horses including the provision of fodder,” “called for timely producing horse-riding gears including riding suit” and that he “stressed the need to successfully renovate the club as required by the era of military-first (So’ngun) and provide the Koreans who are the best in the world with the highly civilized living conditions and environment.”

(Photo: KCNA)

VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department (bureau), Member of the KWP Political Bureau Presidium and Vice Chairman of the KWP Central Military Commission rides a horse during KJU’s inspection (Photo: KCNA)

Chief of the KPA General Staff, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, rides a horse during KJU’s inspection of the equestrian grounds (Photo: KCNA)

Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang City (municipal) KWP Committee and KWP Political Bureau Alternate (candidate member) Mun Kyong Dok rides (Photo: KCNA)

KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate (candidate member) Kim Yang Gon rides (Photo: KCNA)

Director of the KWP Light Industry Department and former DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju rides (Photo: KCNA)

KJU’s inspection may have occurred here in the Mirim area of east Pyongyang (Photo: Google image)

Kim Jong Un Attends Photo Session with 4th National Meeting of Mothers Partcipants

18 Nov

Kim Jong Un talks to a participant of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers during a commemorative photo session (Photo: KCNA)

DPRK state media reported on 18 November (Sunday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a commemorative photo session with participants of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers.  KJU’s last reported public appearance was his attendance at a shooting competition and a women’s volleyball match.  At the photo-op Kim Jong Un “sent warm congratulations to the delegates who fully demonstrated the revolutionary traits of Korean women in the meeting.” According to KCNA, KJU said, “4th National Meeting of Mothers marked a significant occasion in glorifying the proud history and tradition created by Korean mothers and opening up brighter and rosier future of the country and nation together with the mothers.”

Kim Jong Un greets participants of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers during a commemorative photo session. (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un greets participants of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers during a commemorative photo session. Also in attendance are: 1. Kim Kyong Hui 2. Kim Ki Nam 3. Jang Song Taek (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un (seated, 4th L) poses for a commemorative photograph with participants of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers. Also seen in attendance are Kim Ki Nam (seated, L), Kim Kyong Hui (seated, 2nd L), Ro Song Sil (seated, 3rd L) Ri Yong Su (seated, 5th L), Jang Song Taek (seated, 6th L) and Pak To Chun (seated, 7th L) (Photo: KCNA)

Attending the commemorative photo session with Kim Jong Un were Kim Kyong Hui (Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary and KJU’s aunt), Jang Song Taek (National Defense Commission Vice Chairman, KWP Administration Department Director and KJU’s uncle), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation [publicity and information] Department), Pak To Chun (KWP Secretary of Machine-Building and Military Industries), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Director of the International Affairs Department), Kim P’yo’ng Hae (KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Director of Finance and Planning), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang City [municipal] KWP Committee), Ro Tu Chol (DPRK Cabinet Vice Premier and Chairman of the State Planning Commission), Jo Yon Jun (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Ri Yong Su (KWP Workers’ Organizations Department Director) and Ro Song Sil (Chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Union of Korea [Korean Democratic Women's Union]).  Also in attendance were Jong Hui Ja (leading a delegation of the Korean Democratic Women’s Union in Japan), Chon Jae Ryon (leading a delegation of Korean women residing in China) and Jong Il Sim (leading a delegation of Korean women residing in Russia).

Participants of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers attending a commemorative photo session greet Kim Jong Un and other members of the DPRK’s core political leadership (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un greets a participant of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers during a commemorative photo session. Also seen in attendance is Ri Yong Su (R) Director of the KWP Workers’ Organizations Department (Photo: KCNA)

Commemorative photograph of Kim Jong Un and participants of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un embraces a participant at the 4th National Meeting of Mothers during a commemorative photo session. Also seen in attendance is Ro Song Sil (R), Chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Union of Korea (Photo: KCNA)

During the photo session, according to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said that “It is the greatest pride of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Korean people that they have fine mothers discharging their mission before the times, country and nation with lofty loyalty and ardent patriotism, adding they registered the most valuable life in every annals of the revolution under the care of Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il” and he “expressed expectation and belief that all the mothers and women in the DPRK would display their honor as women revolutionaries and flowers of the era in the advance of a new century of Juche as they did in the past.”

Participants of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers applaud Kim Jong Un during a commemorative photo session (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un embraces a participant of the 4th National Meeting of Mothers during a commemorative photo session. Also in attendance is Ro Song Sil (R), Chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Union of Korea (Photo: KCNA)

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