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

8 Oct
KPA General Staff (NK Leadership Watch graphic)

KPA General Staff (NK Leadership Watch graphic)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pyongyang Hosts Two Sports Competitions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Photos: KCNA screengrabs)

(Photos: KCNA screengrabs)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kim Jong Un Attends Soccer Game Prior to Liberation Day

14 Aug
Kim Jong Un attends a men's football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot'onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013, one day ahead of Liberation Day (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un attends a men’s football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot’onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013, one day ahead of Liberation Day (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of a men's football (soccer) game between the Yongaksan and Pot'onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of a men’s football (soccer) game between the Yongaksan and Pot’onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a men’s football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot’onggang teams at Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August (Wednesday).  Also attending the game were Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau members and alternates including Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission, Chairman of the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission  and Director of the KWP Administration Department), Col. Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary and Kim Jong Un’s aunt), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly), Kang Sok Ju (DPRK Vice Premier), Gen. Kim Won Hong (Minister of State Security), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Director of International Affairs), Kim P’yong-hae (KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), Ro Tu Chol (DPRK Vice Premier and Chairman of the State Planning Commission), Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of People’s Security) and Jo Yon Jun (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), along with “members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, leading officials of the support organizations for various sports events, officials of the party, armed forces and power organs, working people’s organizations, the Cabinet, ministries and national institutions, those in the sports field, sportspersons, working people from all walks of life and school youth and children in the city.”  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to the construction of two apartment towers earmarked for Kim Il Sung University science faculty and researchers.

The game began with a kick-off from the Pot’onggang Team.  According to KCNA, “Ryongaksan Team made attempts to score goals through flank attack and short passes which helped a forward make strong kick 16 m from goal mouth, scoring the first goal at around 33rd minute of the first half” and “when the Pot’onggang Team had a chance of penalty kick, its forward scored a goal through his skillful kick at around 36th minute of the first half.”  The game was tied at halftime.  In the second half “back of the Ryongaksan Team made a smart heading, scoring a goal at around 11th minute of the second half.”  The Ryongaksan Team beat the Pot’onggang Team 2-1.  According to KCNA, after the game Kim Jong Un “expressed great satisfaction over the nice match and congratulated the players on their success.”

Kim Jong Un Meets with Syrian Delegation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kim Jong Un Visits War Museum

11 Jul
Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials accompanying him during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials accompanying him during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation (Korean) War Museum which will reopen soon.  He was accompanied by Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier) VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Kim Ki Nam (Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary of Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary of Education and Science and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Director of International Affairs), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim P’yo’ng-hae (KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Director of Planning and Finance), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), Han Kwang Sang (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department), Ri Ch’ae-il (Deputy [vice] Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Pak Tae Song (KWP Department Deputy [vice] Director) and Col. Gen. Jo Kyong Chol (Chief of the Military Security Command).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to Ku’msuan Palace on 8 July to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the death of his paternal grandfather, late DPRK founder and President Kim Il Sung.

View of the exterior of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and memorial tower in Pyongyang (Photos: KCNA)

View of the exterior of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and memorial tower in Pyongyang (Photos: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un and senior party and government officials tours the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un and senior party and government officials tours the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

According to KCNA the museum was “newly built as required by the 21st century and its area and the Monument to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War turned into a general education center to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War under the grand plan and energetic guidance of Kim Jong Un, who has successfully carried forward the ever-victorious history and tradition started on Mt. Paektu.”  Kim Jong Un toured different exhibitions and galleries in the museum and was briefed about the various artifacts, images and other items on display.  He praised the KPA construction personnel who worked on the museums renovation.  He said “the ceremony for opening the museum is planned to be held grandly” and “noted the museum is a treasure-house of the country, a theatre showcasing confrontation with the U.S. and an important base for anti-U.S. education.”  Kim Jong Un also said that “the excellent rebuilding of the museum and the improvement of the surrounding landscape will contribute to educating the servicepersons and people in President Kim Il Sung’s Chuch’e-oriented military idea, anti-imperialist revolutionary idea and outstanding commanding arts, and helping them carry forward the fighting spirit and soul of the forerunners” and “called for making good preparations for the opening and showing the fixed will of Songun Korea to always emerge victorious by carrying forward the tradition of victory displayed by the preceding generations.”

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

2 May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Male and female volleyball matches took place first.

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

Then followed table-tennis matches.

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

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

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

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

A tug of war took place between the two teams.

The Pothonggang Team won the game.

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

Kim Jong Un Visits Yanggakdo Stadium and Football Game

30 Apr
Kim Jong Un (1) provides instructions on the renovation of Yanggakdo Stadium in Pyongyang.  Also seen in attendance are Jang Song Taek (2), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (3) and Kim Jong Un's wife Ri Sol Ju (4) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un (1) provides instructions on the renovation of Yanggakdo Stadium in Pyongyang. Also seen in attendance are Jang Song Taek (2), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (3) and Kim Jong Un’s wife Ri Sol Ju (4) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

DPRK state media reported on 29 April (Monday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the Yanggakdo Stadium and attended the men’s football finals for the Mangyo’ngdae Prize at Kim Il Sung Stadium.  KJU’s last reported public appearance was his visit to the Haedanghwa Health Complex.  KJU’s first visit was to the Yanggakdo Stadium which he ordered to be renovated.  Attending the visit was his wife, Ri Sol Ju (Ri So’l-chu), along with VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission [NDC]), Gen. Hyon Yong Chol (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Col. Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau) and other officials.

According to KCNA Kim Jong Un visited the stadium (originally opened in 1989) “with a plan to radically remodel the stadium as required by the new century.”  KJU visited the stadium historical exhibition where he “recollected with deep emotion the undying exploits they performed for the development of the Juche-based physical culture and sports.”  KJU then toured the stadium and ordered a series of renovations.  He said, “it is the intention of the Workers’ Party of Korea to turn the stadium into a football stadium which can represent stadiums of such type across the country as required by the new century.”  KJU also “formed a strong construction unit capable of carrying out the project in a brief span of time.”  KJU also remarked that “to develop physical culture and sports is an important work to augment the national power in every way, demonstrate the indomitable spirit and dignity of Military-First (So’ngun) Korea before the world and let all the service personnel and people dynamically step up the building of a thriving socialist nation full of national pride and self-esteem” and he “expressed expectation and belief that the relevant fields would successfully remodel the stadium as a football stadium to be impeccable in any aspect.”

Kim Jong Un (3) attends the men's premier league football finals for the Mangyongdae Prize at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 29 April 2013.  Also watching the game with are Jang Song Taek (1), Ri Sol Ju (2) and Choe Tae Bok) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un (3) attends the men’s premier league football finals for the Mangyongdae Prize at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 29 April 2013. Also watching the game with are Jang Song Taek (1), Ri Sol Ju (2) and Choe Tae Bok) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Su later attended the  men’s football (soccer) finals for the Mangyo’ngdae Prize National Sports Festival at Kim Il Sung Stadium.  Also in attendance at the football game were VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Taek, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Ki Nam (Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary and SPA Chairman), 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 the Planning and Finance Department), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang City [municipal] KWP Committee), Ju Kyu Chang (Director of the KWP Machine-Building Industry Department), Col. Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of the People’s Security), Kim Tong Il (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Workers’ Organizations Department) and “members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, officials of the party and armed forces organs, ministries and national institutions, those in the sports field, sportspersons, fans and Pyongyangites.”

The men's football premier league finals for the Mangyongdae Prize between the Rimyongsu Sports Group and the Amnokgang Sports Group at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 29 April 2013.  The Rimyongsu Team beat the Amnokgang Team 2-1.  (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

The men’s football premier league finals for the Mangyongdae Prize between the Rimyongsu Sports Group and the Amnokgang Sports Group at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 29 April 2013. The Rimyongsu Team beat the Amnokgang Team 2-1. (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

The match was played between two of the DPRK’s premier league teams, Rimyongsu and Amnokgang.  KCNA reported the two teams “advanced into the finals after proving successful at the men’s premier soccer league matches. They played good games, displaying high technique they have cultivated in day-to-day trainings” and that “Rimyongsu Team took the initiative from the beginning according to its tactics and made hot attacks.”  Rimyongsu led Amnokgang 2-0 in the first half and went onto win the game 2-1.  At the end of the match, Kim Jong Un “congratulated the footballers of both teams on playing a good match, expressing great satisfaction with their high technique.”

Kim Jong Un (1) greets DPRK athletes who received gold medals or placed in the top of their categories at international competitions held between February and April 2013.  Also in attendance at the event held at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 29 April 2013 are DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (2), Minister of the People's Armed Forces Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (3), and Minister of People's Security Col. Gen. Choe Pu Il (4) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

Kim Jong Un (1) greets DPRK athletes who received gold medals or placed in the top of their categories at international competitions held between February and April 2013. Also in attendance at the event held at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 29 April 2013 are DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (2), Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (3), and Minister of People’s Security Col. Gen. Choe Pu Il (4) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun)

KJU also met with DPRK athletes who successfully participated in recent international competitions including long-distance runner Kim Kum Ok (who placed first in the 14th Asian Marathon Championship held in Hong Kong on 25 February 2013), wrestler Yang Kyong Il (who placed second in the men’s 55 kg freestyle at the 2013 Asian Wrestling Championship), gymnast Ri Se Gwang (who placed first in the vault event at the Artistic Gymnastics World Cup Series in Doha in March 2013), wrestler Hwang Ryong Hak (who placed first in the men’s 60 kg freestyle at the 2013 Asian Wrestling Championships), Pak Yong Mi (who placed first in the women’s 48 kg freestyle at the 2013 Asian Wrestling Championships), judoka Hong Kuk Hyon (who placed first in the women’s 73 kg weight class at the Asian Judo Championships of 2013 in Bangkok in April 2013), weightlifter Ri Su Hyon (who won three gold medals in the women’s 44 kg competition at the 2013 International Weightlifting Federation’s Youth World Championships in Tashkent in April 2013), Kwon Yong Gwang (who won three gold medals in the men’s 62 kg competition at 2013 IWF Youth World Championships in Tashkent) and weightlifter Pak Jong Ju (who came in second overall and won two medals in the men’s 50 kg competition at the IWF Youth World Championships in Tashkent), along with “a coach and physical culture and sports guidance officials.”

Kim Jong Un shook hands with the DPRK athletes and, according to KCNA, “highly praised them for proving successful at the recent international games and instilling the conviction of victory and optimism into the service personnel and people of the DPRK dynamically pushing forward the building of a thriving socialist nation despite harsh sanctions and strong pressure of the enemies.”  KJU also “expressed his belief that sports persons and coaches would undergo more intensive trainings to consolidate the successes achieved and fully demonstrate the honor of the country with gold medals at international games.”  Also attending KJU’s meet-and-greet were DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju, VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Taek, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Tae Bok, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Il, Kim P’yo’ng-hae, Kwak Pom Gi, Mun Kyong Dok, Col. Gen. Choe Pu Il and members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission.

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