Following a meeting of senior DPRK and Mongolian government officials at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October (Monday), the two countries signed two economic agreements, along with a technology exchange agreement. DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam and Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga signed a cooperation agreement on industry and agriculture. Chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries Kim Jong Suk and Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Luvsanvandan Bold signed a cooperation agreement on cultural and sports exchanges and tourism. DPRK Vice Minister of Land and Marine Transport Kwak Il Ryong and Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold signed an agreement on cooperation in the road and transportation sectors. Jong Song Chang Deputy (vice) General Director of the DPRK General Bureau of Software Industry and Ambassador Ganbold on behalf of theMongolian IT, Post and Telecommunications Bureau signed a 2013 to 2015 technology exchange agreement “in the field of IT.”
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a delegation of senior Mongolian government officials arrived in Pyongyang on 28 October (Monday) for a four-day visit ending on 31 October. President Elbegdorj’s visit will commemorate the 65th anniversary of DPRK-Mongolian relations and lead to the expansion of the countries’ bilateral ties. Greeting Elbegdorj at Pyongyang Airport were Kim Yong Nam (President of the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA]), Pak Ui Chun (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Ri Ryong Nam (Minister of Foreign Trade), Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (Vice Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff), Son Kwang Ho (Vice Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Kwang Il Ryong (Vice Minister of Land and Marine Transport), Hong Kyu (DPRK Ambassador to Mongolia), Kim Jin Bom (Vice Chairman of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and Chairman of the DPRK-Mongolia Friendship Association) and other DPRK officials. Also greeting President Elbegjorj at the airport was Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold.
Elbegdorj was accompanied by his wife, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Luvsanvandan Bold, Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga, Secretary General of the National Security Council Tsagaandari Enkhtuvshin, Chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Tserendejid Byambajav, Vice Minister of Road Transport Khabshai Erjan, Presidential National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor Lundeg Purevsuren, Presidential Advisor for Mass Liaison and Mass Policy Amgalanbaatar Ganbaatar, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Pureb Altangerel and other Mongolian government officials. During the welcoming ceremony for the Mongolian delegation, President Elbegdorj reviewed an honor guard consisting of the KPA’s three service branches and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards. Representatives of DPRK women workers and children of Mongolian diplomatic staff stationed in the DPRK presented floral bouquets to Elbegdorj and his wife.
Following the delegation’s arrival, Elbegdorj and senior Mongolian officials met with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang. Attending the meeting from the DPRK were Pak Ui Chun, Ri Jong Mu (Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Kim Jong Suk (Chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries), Pak Kil-yo’n (Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs), Kwang Il Ryong, Hong Kyu and other DPRK officials. According to KCNA, ”both sides exchanged views on the issue of boosting the bilateral relations of friendship and other issues of mutual concern” during the meeting and the “talks took place in a friendly atmosphere.”
The DPRK and Mongolia held their 9th meeting of an intergovernmental committee on economics, trade, science and technology at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang during 25 September and 26 September (Thursday). Attending the meetings were DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam (co-chairman on behalf of the DPRK) and Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga (co-chairman on behalf of Mongolia), along with a delegation of Mongolian officials led by Battulga and Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold. According to KCNA the meeting “reviewed the implementation of the protocol of the 8th meeting and discussed on bilateral cooperation issues in different fields” and Ri and Battulga signed the meeting’s protocol agreement.
On 25 September (Wednesday), Khaltma Battulga and the Mongolian delegation met with Supreme People’s Assembly Presidium President Kim Yong Nam and DPRK Vice Premier Kang Sok Ju. The Mongolian delegation also visited Mangyo’ngdae, birthplace and childhood home of late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng), and the delegation toured the Pyongyang Essential Foodstuffs Factory and the Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory.
DPRK state media has identified central party finance and accounting cadre Han Kwang Sang as a Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Department Director. In a 23 September (Monday) report about Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visit to the construction of the Ryugyo’ng Dental Hospital in Pyongyang, Han was identified as “department director of the Central Committee of the WPK [KWP].” KCNA did not disclose what department Han is directing, but it is highly likely he is serving as head of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department where has served as senior deputy (1st vice) director since 2010. In late June an unnamed ROK Government source told Yonhap that Han had been appointed department director in May 2012.
The KWP Finance and Accounting Department manages the finances of the party and those of the Kim Family. It also manages logistics and supplies for departments, offices, sections, etc., in the KWP Central Committee (i.e. the central party) and is responsible for the payroll and the distribution of benefits and perks to central party employees. Staff of the Finance and Accounting Department also work as domestic, technical and logistical staff at residential compounds for the Kim Family and other DPRK elites, and the department is also responsible for supplying furniture, building materials, appliances and foodstuffs to the DPRK’s VIP compounds. The Finance and Accounting Department owns a series of hotels, restaurants, factories and shops (both within the country and located abroad) which generate revenues for the party. The department has taken a leading role in the development, opening and management of new restaurants, shopping centers and factories in and around Pyongyang since 2009. According to Kyodo News Office #38, which had been subordinate to the Finance and Accounting Department, was consolidated into a larger entity called “the Moranbong Bureau,” under the DPRK Cabinet. If this report is accurate then Han Kwang Sang had a leading role in the consolidation. The department links directly with the Guard Command and Kim Jong Un’s executive office in the National Defense Commission. It is unclear what role the department, or Han Kang Sang, has in the rumored establishment of a powerful KWP Department of Economy.
Han’s Call Order in DPRK state media
Between April 2012 and May 2012 the order in which Han Kwang Sang’s name was listed in KCNA reports and called in state radio and television broadcasts appeared with other central party department directors and was listed or called ahead of senior deputy and deputy directors. At Kim Jong Un’s field inspection of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Unit # 655 in April 2012 Han Kwang Sang was listed between Kim Kyong Ok (Senor Deputy Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department) and Ri Jae Il (Senor Deputy Director of the KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department). When Han next appeared in state media at Kim Jong Un’s May 2012 visit to the Central Zoo, he was listed after Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department) and ahead of Ri Jae Il. In August 2012, in a news item on Kim Jong Un’s visit to Haemaji Restaurant, Han Kwang Sang was listed after Han Kwang Bok (Director of the KWP Science and Education Department) and before Kim Kyong Ok. At a visit later the same day, Han was listed between Paek Se Pong, Chairman of the Second Economy Commission [Second Economic Committee] which is equivalent to KWP Department Director, and Han Kwang Bok.
The Worker-Peasant Red Guards [WPRG] staged a parade, followed by a demonstration by Pyongyangites, in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on 9 September (Monday), the 65th anniversary of the foundation of the DPRK. Kim Jong Un attended the WPRG parade and demonstration. Also on the reviewing platform were senior DPRK officials including Kim Yong Nam (Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium President), Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), “the chairperson of a friendly party, officials of the party, armed forces organs and the Cabinet and chief secretaries of Provincial Party Committees of the WPK” along with “Kwon Sun Hwi, advisor to the Central Standing Committee of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, and Choe Un Bok, chairwoman of the General Association of Koreans in China.” Also in attendance were “deputies to the Supreme People’s Assembly, officials of the party, armed forces and power bodies, social organizations, ministries and national institutions, service personnel of the KPA and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces, officials in the fields of science, education, literature and arts, public health and media, merited people, delegations of overseas Koreans and other compatriots and the chief of the Pyongyang Mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front” and “foreign delegations and delegates, foreign diplomatic envoys and representatives of international bodies and their wives and military attaches here and other foreign guests.”
The flags of the DPRK and Korean Workers’ Party were raised with musical accompaniment. WPRG members were ceremoniously inspected then presented to Kim Jong Un by Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, Gen. Jang Jong Nam. After the presentation of the WPRG members DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju delivered a speech in which, according to KCNA, he said “that the history of the DPRK clearly proves immutable truth that the great leaders assure the high dignity and prosperity of the country and nation” and “stressed that the army and people of the DPRK holding the peerlessly great men in high esteem generation after generation will as ever dynamically advance along the road of independence, Military-First (So’ngun) and socialism and it will shine forever as the socialist state of Juche with the invincible might.”
After Pak’s speech the WPRK parade began with the marching of flags displaying of the portraits late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and his son late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il). This was followed by WPRG members emptying Kim Il Sung Square and its vicinity to mark past the parade reviewing platform. The WPRG members consisted of reserve military training units members of the WPRG’s units from the provinces, at industrial complexes and agricultural sites, along with WPRG units of the Ministries of Land Management and Public Health, reserve units from DPRK universities and members of the Young Red Guard. The parade marchers were followed by a ride-past of multiple-launch rockets systems [MLRS] and towed artillery pieces. A parade and demonstration by the citizens of Pyongyang followed the WPRK parade which began with a float consisting of replicas of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il statues amid a a sea of people carrying the DPRK flag. According to KCNA “columns of dancers depicting the national flag, Taekwon-do players, military families, artistes, scientists, sportspersons, teachers and medical workers walked past the square” and “letters reading ‘Kim Il Sung’, ‘Kim Jong I’, ‘Kim Jong Un’, ‘Glory’, ‘Celebration of 65th Anniversary’, ‘Great Mt. Paketu (Paektusan) Nation’, ‘Speed on Masik Pass’, ‘Economic Power’, ‘Single-minded Unity’, etc. were presented on the square and the flags of the DPRK and the WPK were portrayed in succession.”
At the end of the parade “there were loud hurrahs resounding far and wide, fireworks being shot up and balloons rising to the sky. Kim Jong Un, accompanied by VMar Choe Ryong Hae and Jang Song Taek, walked along the parade reviewing platform’s deck with Kim Jong Un waving to the crowd.
A few recent internal political issues (involving personnel matters) could be observed at the WPRK parade and demonstration. Events held to mark the DPRK’s 65th anniversary were going to provide clarity on the current officeholder of Chief of the KPA General Staff. Based on the standing order on the parade reviewing platform, Gen. Ri Yong Gil was standing in the spot previously occupied by Gen. Kim Kyok Sik indicating that Gen. Ri has replaced Gen. Kim. Ri Yong Gil has also been replaced, with a new and unknown Chief of the General Staff Operations Bureau attending to Kim Jong Un during the WPRG parade. The anniversary event also marked the return of KWP Secretary and weapons industry boss Pak To Chun. Pak had not appeared in state media for several months and distinctly absent from war anniversary events in July. Pak was shown at least three times, standing along side other senior KWP officials. Kim Jong Un’s walk along the parade reviewing platform’s balcony to wave to the crowd was an interesting tabeleaux du régime for leadership dynamics. Usual post-parade platform walks by the supreme leader have usually involved senior officials such as the SPA Presidium President, the DPRK Premier and the Chief of the KPA General Staff; instead, Kim Jong Un was accompanied by KPA General Political Department Director VMar Choe Ryong Hae and National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Jang Song Taek. When taken with images and film footage of the war anniversary events from July, Kim Jong Un’s balcony walk shows the DPRK’s top three political officials.
Floral wreath laying ceremonies were held at the Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery, the Patriotic Martyrs’ Cemetery and the Fatherland Liberation War Martyrs’ Cemetery in Pyongyang on 8 September (Sunday). Attending the wreath laying ceremonies were Kim Yong Nam, Pak Pong Ju, Choe Ryong Hae along with “other senior party, state and army officials, vice-premiers of the Cabinet, a chairperson of the friendly party, officials of the party, armed forces and power bodies, working people’s organizations, ministries and national institutions, service personnel of the KPA and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces (KPISF) and Pyongyangites.” Wreaths sent on behalf of Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) were placed at the three cemeteries, along with wreaths sent by the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee, the Supreme People’s Assembly Presidium, the DPRK Cabinet, the DPRK National Defense Commission, the Party Central Military Commission, the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, the Ministry of People’s Security and from “working people’s organizations, ministries and national institutions, units of the KPA and the KPISF, scientific, educational, public health and media institutions and party and power organs, factories and farms, etc. in Pyongyang.” According to KCNA, “participants observed a moment’s silence in memory of the martyrs” then “looked round the cemeteries.”
Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a men’s football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot’onggang teams at Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August (Wednesday). Also attending the game were Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau members and alternates including Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission, Chairman of the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission and Director of the KWP Administration Department), Col. Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary and Kim Jong Un’s aunt), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly), Kang Sok Ju (DPRK Vice Premier), Gen. Kim Won Hong (Minister of State Security), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Director of International Affairs), Kim P’yong-hae (KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), Ro Tu Chol (DPRK Vice Premier and Chairman of the State Planning Commission), Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of People’s Security) and Jo Yon Jun (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), along with “members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, leading officials of the support organizations for various sports events, officials of the party, armed forces and power organs, working people’s organizations, the Cabinet, ministries and national institutions, those in the sports field, sportspersons, working people from all walks of life and school youth and children in the city.” Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to the construction of two apartment towers earmarked for Kim Il Sung University science faculty and researchers.
The game began with a kick-off from the Pot’onggang Team. According to KCNA, “Ryongaksan Team made attempts to score goals through flank attack and short passes which helped a forward make strong kick 16 m from goal mouth, scoring the first goal at around 33rd minute of the first half” and “when the Pot’onggang Team had a chance of penalty kick, its forward scored a goal through his skillful kick at around 36th minute of the first half.” The game was tied at halftime. In the second half “back of the Ryongaksan Team made a smart heading, scoring a goal at around 11th minute of the second half.” The Ryongaksan Team beat the Pot’onggang Team 2-1. According to KCNA, after the game Kim Jong Un “expressed great satisfaction over the nice match and congratulated the players on their success.”
On 31 July (Wednesday), Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a men’s football (soccer) match and an archery competition. Attending the athletic competitions with him were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission, Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Administration Department and Kim Jong Un’s uncle), Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary and department director and Kim Jong Un’s aunt), Kang Sok Ju (DPRK Vice Premier), Ri Yong Su (Director of the KWP Workers’ Organizations Department), Col. Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau), Pak Tae Song (KWP Deputy [vice] Department Director), Hwang Pyong So (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Kim Pyong Ho (KWP Deputy [vice] Department Director), Kim Yong Hun (KWP Deputy [vice] Department Director), Ma Won Chun (KWP Deputy [vice] Department Director), Gen. Kim Yong Chol (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff and Chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau), Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff), Ri Jong Mu (Minister of Physical Culture and Sport), Ri Ju Bong (Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports KWP Committee) and Jon Yong Nam (Chairman of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League Central Committee).
The men’s football match was between the Hwaebul (flaming torch) Team, of the KIS Socialist Youth League Central Committee, and the 25 April Team, from the Korean People’s Army. According to KCNA’s account of the game the Hwaebul squad “took the initiative from the beginning of the match and intensified the attack. When the team went over to a surprise counterattack from defense, forward Kim Yong Gwang scored the first goal in the 27th minute of the first half.” The 25 April squad “made all-out attack, not loosing confidence” and “finally managed to score equalizer with back Ji Kwang Hyok making a precise shot amid a mess in the goal area.” Hwaebul “trounced its rival by scoring two more goals in the eleven meter penalty kick.” After the match, Kim Jong Un “expressed great satisfaction over the nice match and congratulated them on their success in the match.” Kim Jong Un went onto the field and posed for commemorative photograph with the team and its coach. According to KCNA he said “young people should take the lead in raising hot sports wind, too, as the country will be alive when the youth league goes dynamic,” emphasized that “the great importance of soccer in exalting the honor of the country” and said that “it is necessary to round off the soccer techniques, tactics and training methods of Korean style and put them on a higher scientific basis in order to develop soccer.” Kim Jong Un also remarked that “what is important for developing soccer is to find out more reserves for players, underscoring the need to build a well-regulated training system, push ahead with the training tenaciously and frequently organize matches among schools at all levels in particular” and he “underlined the need to increase public concern and state assistance for soccer, calling on officials to pay deep attention to it.” According to KCNA Kim Jong Un “expressed his belief that the sportspersons would perform their duty and mission for bringing sports events including soccer to the world level as they instill confidence and optimism about sure victory into the army and people.”
Kim Jong Un also watched an archery competition between the 25 April Defense Sports Team, of the KPA, and the Amnokgang Defense Sports Team, of the Ministry of the People’s Security. The competition consisted of women’s team, mixed team and individual women’s ends (events). Kim Jong Un praised the archers when they hit a bull’s eye, according to KCNA. The 25 April Defense Sports Team won the competition. Kim Jong Un remarked that “mental power of the players is important for winning world championship in the archery as is the case with other sports events” and emphasized “the need to motivate the mental power of players so that they may play matches to exalt the honor of the country.” Kim Jong Un also said “great efforts should be directed to archery as it is quite possible for the DPRK’s archers to win international games including Olympics” and “underscored the need to round off archery techniques of Korean style and scientific training methods and fully ensure training conditions.” According to KCNA, he “told officials to pay deep attention to archery and take measures to provide best bows, arrows and other apparatuses to the archers.”
ROK media outlet Chosun Ilbo is floating a rumor that core DPRK elite Kim Kyong Hui (Kim Kyo’ng-hu’i) is “critically sick.” The aunt of current leader Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) and the sister of late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) has not made any reported public appearances in approximately 80 days when she attended a concert by the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces [KPISF] with her nephew and other senior DPRK officials. The concert was reported by DPRK state media on 12 May and Madame Kim’s prior observed appearance was her attendance at sports competitions between workers in the DPRK public health sector held on International Labor (May) Day on 1 May. Aside from citing a series of ailments that Kim Kyong Hui is rumored to have, Chosun Ilbo only cites an anonymous report that refers to “an intelligence report” that she is severely ill and was being cared for by Kim Jong Un’s wife Ri Sol Ju (Ri So’l-chu).
Rumors Kim Kyong Hui being close to death, having a terminal illness, receiving medical treatment abroad or being in the throes of drug addiction have appeared in South Korean media for a number of years. The last batch of gossip about the state of Madame Kim’s health appeared between August 2012 and October 2012 and caused a round of shallow, mindless speculation about how her death could affect leadership dynamics. The latest rumors on Madame Kim’s health could be due to a number of other factors. Her last observed appearance was prior to a long period of inspection tours outside of Pyongyang. It also occurred as a number of central party secretaries and department directors also disappeared from DPRK state media, some of whom later resurfaced during Kim Jong Un’s visit to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation (Korean) War, reported on DPRK state media on 11 July. Madame Kim’s absence may also be linked to the rumored establishment of the Department of the Economy in the Party Central Committee apparatus. And yet, Pyongyang watchers assume that she’s even in the country. Kim Kyong Hui has homes in Singapore and Europe to which she has previously traveled for extensive stays; she may be like other members of the Kim Family and commuting to Pyongyang when necessary.
Kim Kyong Hui, along with her husband Jang Song Taek (Chang So’ng-t’aek) is one of the most powerful members of the DPRK’s political leadership who was instrumental in grooming Kim Jong Un and ensuring support among DPRK elites and the extended Kim Family during his hereditary succession drive. Madame Kim is currently a Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary, a Party Central Committee Department Director, a member of the KWP Political Bureau and either own or serves as a principal officer in several foreign trading corporations.