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Mongolian President Departs the DPRK

31 Oct
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj shakes hands with DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam prior to departing from Pyongyang airport on 31 October 2013 after a four-day visit to the DPRK (Photo: KCNA)

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj shakes hands with DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam prior to departing from Pyongyang airport on 31 October 2013 after a four-day visit to the DPRK (Photo: KCNA)

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a senior Mongolian Government delegation departed the DPRK on 31 October (Thursday) after a four day visit.  Attending the farewell ceremony were Kim Yong Nam (Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium President), Pak Ui Chun (DPRK Foreign Minister), 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), Kwak Il Ryong (Vice Minister of Land and Marine Transport), Hong Kyu (DPRK Ambassador to Mongolia), Kim Jin Bom (Chairman of the DPRK-Mongolia Friendship Association and Vice Chairman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries), other DPRK officials and staff members of the Mongolian Embassy in the DPRK.  According to KCNA when President Elbegdorj and his wife “arrived at the airport, children of the Mongolian embassy presented bouquets to him and his wife” and that Elbegdorj “exchanged farewells with the officials.”

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (L) and his wife Khajidsurengiin Bolormaa (R) wave before departing the DPRK on 31 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (L) and his wife Khajidsurengiin Bolormaa (R) wave before departing the DPRK on 31 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Senior DPRK officials acknowledge President Elbegdorj's departure at Pyongyang Airport on 31 October 2013.  Among those in attendance are Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (4th R), Ri Ryong Nam (3rd R), Pak Ui Chun (2nd R) and Kim Yong Nam (R) (Photo: KCNA).

Senior DPRK officials acknowledge President Elbegdorj’s departure at Pyongyang Airport on 31 October 2013. Among those in attendance are Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (4th R), Ri Ryong Nam (3rd R), Pak Ui Chun (2nd R) and Kim Yong Nam (R) (Photo: KCNA).

Prior to his departure President Elbegdorj toured the Munsu Swimming Complex where he watched a volleyball game between the 25 April Sports Team and Mongolia’s Enacoree Sports Team.  President Elbegdorj also visited Kim Il Sung University on Thursday.  Elbegdorj and members of the Mongolian delegation delivered flowers to the statue of late leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) on the university’s campus.  Elbegdorj also delivered a speech to KIS University faculty and students.  According to KCNA, Elbegdorj said that “he was pleased to visit the university and referred to the politics, economy, history, culture and foreign policy of Mongolia.”  Elbegdorj noted that “President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) visited Mongolia two times” and said “that the relations between the two countries have a long history and tradition. He expressed the belief that the friendly relations between the two countries associated with the wisdom and efforts of the leaders of the elder generation would grow stronger.”

President Elbegdorj presented a gift to Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) on Thursday which was received by SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam.  When Elbegdorj and the Mongolian delegation departed from Pyongyang airport later the same day, he had not met with Kim Jong Un, despite widespread expectations that the DPRK leader would hold his first summit meeting with a foreign head of state since assuming power between 2011 and 2012.  However, neither Mongolia nor the DPRK ever officially claimed that Kim Jong Un would receive Elbegdorj.  In reporting about President Elbegdorj’s arrival in and departure from Pyongyang, KCNA clearly said Elbegdorj and senior Mongolian government officials visited “at the invitation of Kim Yong Nam.”  In reporting about Elbegdorj’s departure from Mongolia to the DPRK on 28 October, a news release from the Office of the President said that he would “hold official meetings and negotiations with the DPRK leaders and other high-level government officials to discuss issues of bilateral relations as well as regional and international matters of mutual concern.”  News.MN reported that President Elbegdorj “will have individual meetings with the North Korean leader and high ranking officials for official talks on mutual relations between Mongolia and DPRK as well as regional and international issues.”  InfoMongolia noted in its 28 October report that Elbegdorj’s visit “was the first head of state to visit since Kim Jong-un took power,” but also reported that Elbegdorj “will meet with high-level officials from the Government and ruling party.”  None of these news items explicitly reported that Elbegdorj and Kim Jong Un would actually meet–the only report from News.MN which referred to “the North Korean leader” did not mention Kim Jong Un.

The perception that an Elbegdorj-Kim summit meeting would be held derived from non-Mongolian and non-DPRK media reports in which anonymous sources claimed that a summit was on the agenda.  A 22 October Kyodo World Service report filed from Ulan Bator claimed that during his visit Elbegdorj was “to discuss bilateral and regional affairs” with Kim Jong Un.  Kyodo cited an unnamed “Mongolian government source.”  On 24 October the Wall Street Journal reported that “North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is set to meet his first head of state since coming to power nearly two years ago when Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj visits Pyongyang next week” and that “the Mongolian Embassy in Seoul confirmed the visit would take place but declined to comment further.”  However the WSJ report was not clear whether the Mongolian Embassy in ROK “confirmed” an Elbegdorj-Kim meeting or simply “confirmed” that Elbegdorj was traveling on an official state visit to the DPRK.  On the day Elbegdorj and the senior Mongolian delegation arrived in Pyongyang, Yonhap reported that Kim Jong Un was “set to hold talks with the visiting Mongolian president this week” and that “we have been informed that First Secretary Kim and the Mongolian president were scheduled to hold talks today or tomorrow.”

Kim Jong Un’s last reported meetings with senior officials of foreign governments, including Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, occurred in July 2013 when the DPRK marked the anniversary of the Fatherland Liberation (Korean) War armistice.  Prior to that, the last significant interaction Kim Jong Un had with foreign government officials was in December 2012 when he received a senior delegation of the Communist Party of China [CPC] led by CPC Political Bureau Member Li Jianguo.  Kim Jong Un does not appear to be completely allergic to interacting with foreign visitors, having met twice with former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman, as well as meeting with the management of Russia’s Orchestra of the 21st Century, top International Weightlifting Federation officials and interacting at several events with foreign diplomats and NGO heads stationed in the DPRK.  Kim Jong Un’s first and only reported meeting with a foreign head of state occurred in September 2011 when Kim Jong Il received and met with Lao President Choummaly Sayasone.

Kim Jong Un Observes and Guides KPA Company Commanders Shooting Competition

30 Oct
Kim Jong Un (C) speaks during a practical shooting competition of particpants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors.  Also seen in attendance are VMar Choe Ryong Hae (L), Director of the KPA General Political Department, and Gen. Ri Yong Gil (R), Chief of the KPA General Staff (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (C) speaks during a practical shooting competition of particpants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors. Also seen in attendance are VMar Choe Ryong Hae (L), Director of the KPA General Political Department, and Gen. Ri Yong Gil (R), Chief of the KPA General Staff (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 29 October (Tuesday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended and guided a shooting contest of participants in the 4th Meeting of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Company Commanders and Political Instructors.  Also in attendance were VMar Choe Ryong Have (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces) along with other senior KPA officials and commanding officers.  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his attendance at a concert of the Merited State Choir and Moranbong Band.

Upon arrival, Kim Jong Un said that he “was very pleased to meet again the company commanders and political instructors whom he wished to see every day” and he noted “that the KPA is holding the shooting contest unprecedented in the history of army building with all company commanders and political instructors of the whole army attending.”  He also said that “servicepersons cannot satisfactorily fulfill their combat duties when they are not good at shooting even if they are prepared well politico-ideologically and physically” and “that only when company commanders and political instructors become good marksmen, can they train their soldiers to be crack shots never missing targets.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said “this shooting contest was organized to make the torch of the movement for becoming crack shots and master gunners rage more furiously in the whole army.”

View of the leadership platform at a shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of the leadership platform at a shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of attendees and participants in a shooting competition of KPA company commanders and political instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of attendees and participants in a shooting competition of KPA company commanders and political instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of the venue of a practical shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of the venue of a practical shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View from the leadership platform of a practical shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View from the leadership platform of a practical shooting competition of participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

KPA company commanders and political instructors, selected from the national meeting, took part in the contest with “the method of deciding on standing of services of the army, army corps level and that of individuals according to the points they gained by hitting targets in the given distance and within the given time.”  KPA Unit #233 and KPA Unit #604 placed first in the shooting competition, the KPA Navy, KPA Unit #287 and KPA Unit #318 placed second and KPA Unit #549 and KPA Unit #569 placed third.  In individual competitions political instructor Ri Yong Chol of KPA Unit #380, political instructor Kang Un Chol  and company commander Pak In Sok of KPA Unit #604 placed first in individual competitions, company commander Ri Sang Chol of KPA Unit #380 placed second, political instructor Jon Yong Gol of KPA Unit #313, company commander Ri Kwang Hyok of KPA Unit #233, company commander Sung Myong Sim of KPA Unit #549, company commander Kim Kwang Hyon of KPA Unit #593 and company commander Han Ok Ju of KPA Unit #287 placed third.  Prizes were awarded during a post-compeition ceremony.

According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un remarked that “this shooting contest offered the company commanders and political instructors an opportunity to keenly realize that only when they become crack shots themselves, can they train all soldiers to be crack shots and master gunners” and he indicated “tasks to be carried out to intensify shooting drills and ways to do so.”

Kim Jong Un speaks during the shooting competition (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks during the shooting competition (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of leadership platform as Kim Jong Un speaks at practical shooting competition of KPA company commanders and political instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of leadership platform as Kim Jong Un speaks at practical shooting competition of KPA company commanders and political instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks during the shooting competition (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks during the shooting competition (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

KPA Holds Loyalty Rally After Company Commanders Meeting

28 Oct
VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department , speaks at a rally of KPA officers and service members at Ku'msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department , speaks at a rally of KPA officers and service members at Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

The Korean People’s Army [KPA] staged a loyalty rally at Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 28 October (Monday) to “pay high tribute to President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) and thoroughly implement the important tasks set forth by Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) in his historic speech made at the 4th meeting of company commanders and political instructors of the Korean People’s Army.”  Attending the rally were KPA officers and service members, along with VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Col. Gen. Kim Chang Sop (Director of the Ministry of State Security Political Bureau), senior KPA officials and KPA commanding officers.

Rally of KPA officers and service members to honor late leaders Kim Il-so'ng and Kim Cho'ng-il and pledge loyalty to Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

Rally of KPA officers and service members to honor late leaders Kim Il-so’ng and Kim Cho’ng-il and pledge loyalty to Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA).

VMar Choe Ryong Hae delivered a speech in which, according to KCNA, he “vowed to turn all companies of the KPA into elite combat units devotedly defending the supreme commander” and said that “all service personnel of the KPA are watching with vigilance the reckless moves of the enemies to stifle the DPRK militarily and all companies will go into action at a breath and blow up all the bases for aggression with merciless deadly strikes if the supreme commander issues an order.”  Choe’s remarks were followed by speeches from KPA company commanders and political instructors.  Ham Yong Bong, a company commander, “pledged to train soldiers in simulated conditions of a real war, prepare them to be a-match-for-a-hundred fighters and make his company a tiger company blowing up bases for aggression before any other companies once a fight breaks out.”  KPA Navy political instructor Pak Hyon Su said “that all the sailors would become human torpedoes and send aggressors to the bottom of sea if they intrude into the inviolable territorial waters of the DPRK even a bit.”  KPA Air and anti-Air Command company commander Ri Chol Ho “declared that airmen would keep themselves highly alerted and intensify flight training as required by the prevailing situation and wipe out enemies with Korean style powerful strike means once the supreme commander issues an order.”

Mirim Riding Club Opened

27 Oct
VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department, speaks at a ceremony opening the Mirim Riding Club in east Pyongyang on 25 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA screen grab).

VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department, speaks at a ceremony opening the Mirim Riding Club in east Pyongyang on 25 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA screen grab).

The Mirim Riding Club in east Pyongyang (formerly known as the Equestrian Company of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Unit #534) was formally opened at a ceremony on 25 October (Friday).  Attending the ceremony were Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Kim Ki Nam (Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), “commanding officers of the units which took part in the construction, officials of ministries and national institutions, soldier-builders, people from all walks of life, youth and students, the chief of the Pyongyang mission of the Anti-Imperialist National Democratic Front and overseas Koreans” along with “diplomatic envoys of foreign countries, representatives of international bodies, military attaches and their spouses, staff members of foreign embassies here and other foreign guests.”

1. Ceremony opening the Mirim Riding Club on 25 October 2013; 2. A ceremonial tape is cut to open the equestrian club; 3. Foreign diplomats and NGO representatives attend the ceremony (Photos: KCNA).

1. Ceremony opening the Mirim Riding Club on 25 October 2013; 2. A ceremonial tape is cut to open the equestrian club; 3. Foreign diplomats and NGO representatives attend the ceremony (Photos: KCNA).

VMar Choe Ryong Hae delivered a speech at the ceremony in which he said that ” that the club is a product of the energetic leadership provided by Marshal Kim Jong Un with devoted service for the people and the heroic efforts of the service personnel and people of the DPRK who are immensely loyal to the cause of the party.”  Senior officials held a ceremonial tape which was cut by people representing the KPA, workers and the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League.  After the tape was cut, the riding club was formally opened and ceremony participants toured the premises.  According to KCNA “the club is a comprehensive and modern riding service center conducive to the physical training of people including school youth and children” and is “equipped with all conditions and environment necessary for riding and education such as riding courses, riding training halls, room for dissemination of riding knowledge, rest house, veterinary hospital and breeding research institute.”

4. Members of the DPRK central leadership tour the equestrian club; 5. Indoor horse arena at Mirim Riding Club (Photos: KCNA).

4. Members of the DPRK central leadership tour the equestrian club; 5. Indoor horse arena at Mirim Riding Club (Photos: KCNA).

Kim Jong Attends Concert and Photo-Op with KPA Meeting Participants

27 Oct
Kim Jong Un (4th L) poses for a commemorative photo in Pyongyang on 23 October 2013 with participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (4th L) poses for a commemorative photo in Pyongyang on 23 October 2013 with participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a commemorative photo session and a concert with the participants in the 4th Meeting of Korean People’s Army [KPA] company commanders and political instructors on 24 October (Thursday).  Attending the photo-op and concert were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Gen. Kim Won Hong (Minister of State Security), Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of the People’s Security), along with other KPA senior officials and commanding officers.  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his attendance at the 4th meeting of KPA company commanders and political instructors.

At the start of the commemorative photo-op, Kim Jong Un noted that “the meeting marked a turning landmark in developing the powerful Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) revolutionary army with the bolstering up of companies as its starting point under the uplifted banner of modeling the whole army on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism”   and he “warmly congratulated all the company commanders and political instructors on successfully holding the meeting with high political awareness and revolutionary enthusiasm. ”  According to KCNA Kim Jong Un “expressed his expectation and belief that they would fulfill their honorable mission and duty in the effort to turn their companies into units of the elite revolutionary army and make their service personnel feel themselves at home there as desired by the party.”

Overview of the venue of a concert of the Merited State Choir and Moranbong Band on 23 October 2013 for participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of the venue of a concert of the Merited State Choir and Moranbong Band on 23 October 2013 for participants in the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un also attended a joint concert by the State Merited Chorus (a.k.a Merited State Choir) and the Moranbong Band with the participants in the 4th meeting of company commanders and political instructors.  Songs performed included “We Sing of the Party,” “Song of the Korean People’s Army,” “Ode to the Motherland,” “Fly High Our Party Flag,” “Let’s Support Our Supreme Commander with Arms,” “Happiness of Being under the Care of Respected Supreme Commander,” “Soldiers Answered,” “Let’s Defend Socialism,” “Our Destiny and Future Entrusted to You,” and “We Will Defend General Kim Jong Un at the Cost of Our Lives.”  According to KCNA the performers “through Korean-style light music and orchestra, made a solemn and impressive representation of the fact that a rosy future is unfolding for the great Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) nation under the leadership of Marshal Kim Jong Un, who is successfully carrying forward the revolutionary cause of Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il)” and the “artistes successfully represented with dynamic and cheerful melody the sky-high spirit of all the service personnel and people dashing ahead at the new speed of offensive, a-match-for-a-hundred speed in the 21st century under the leadership of the party.”  At the end of the concert Kim Jong Un waved to the performers and audience and, according to KCNA, congratulated “the artistes on their successful performance and expressing expectation and belief that all the company commanders and political instructors would fulfill their duties in developing the Korean People’s Army into the powerful elite revolutionary army.”

4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors Held

27 Oct
Kim Jong Un speaks during the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors held in Pyongyang on 22 and 23 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks during the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors held in Pyongyang on 22 and 23 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The 4th Meeting of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Company Commanders and Political Instructors convened during 22 and 23 October in Pyongyang.  Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended both days of the meeting and delivered three speeches.  Also in attendance were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Gen. Kim Won Hong (Minister of State Security), Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of People’s Security), Col. Gen. Kim Chang Sop (Director of the Ministry of State Security Political Bureau), along with senior KPA officials, KPA commanding officers and KPA company commanders and political instructors.

In his opening speech to the meeting, Kim Jong Un said that “when all the participants strengthen companies, cell and basic combat unit of the People’s Army, to repay the party’s trust and expectation, the might of the powerful revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu will be highly displayed, and expressed the conviction that the on-going meeting will serve as a historical landmark in arousing the whole army to strengthening companies, before declaring the meeting open.”  VMar Choe Ryong Hae delivered the meeting’s official report.   According to KCNA, VMar Choe said in his report:

President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) defined company as the cell of revolutionary armed forces and basic combat unit at a time when he formed the first armed ranks of Chuch’e-type in the forest of Mt. Paektu and brought up the fourth company of the 7th regiment of the anti-Japanese guerrillas as an exemplary company, thus setting a brilliant example in strengthening companies.

Kim Il Sung convened the meeting of company commanders and political instructors for the first time in the army-building history on October 11, Juche 62 (1973), attended the meeting and unfolded important guidelines in strengthening companies, an epoch-making event which effected a drastic turn in strengthening KPA companies.

Leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) put forth the original idea that strengthening company is a key link and a starting point in strengthening the whole army, brightly indicated orientation and ways for companies to follow at each stage and in each period of developing revolution and worked heart and soul for strengthening companies politically and militarily.

The Chuch’e-oriented idea of the great Generalissimos on strengthening companies and feats they performed by doing so are being successfully carried forward onto a higher stage thanks to the wise guidance of Marshal Kim Jong Un.

Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un formulated Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism as the guiding idea of the WPK and energetically led the work to model the whole army on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism in all aspects with companies as a base, thus opening up a heyday for strengthening the revolutionary armed forces.

Kim Jong Un brought up service personnel to be a-match-for-a hundred brave and stalwart fighters and provided energetic guidance to turn all companies into steel-strong militant ranks having strong discipline and assuming the perfect appearance as the regular armed forces by scrupulously managing the companies.

A fundamental turn took place in the ideological and moral traits of the company commanders and political instructors and in their work style and many successes were achieved in the efforts to consolidate the companies through the struggle to firmly preserve and glorify the idea of strengthening the companies set forth by the peerlessly great persons of Mt. Paektu and their feats.

VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department and Vice Chairman of the Party Central Military Commission delivers a report on the first day of the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commander and Political Instructors in Pyongyang on 22 October 2013 (Photo: KCTV still).

VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department and Vice Chairman of the Party Central Military Commission delivers a report on the first day of the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commander and Political Instructors in Pyongyang on 22 October 2013 (Photo: KCTV still).

Overview of the venue of the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Overview of the venue of the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Choe Ryong Hae also “called for making sustained great efforts to bolster up the companies in order to accelerate the process of modeling the whole army on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism on a new higher stage and thus develop the KPA into an invincible revolutionary Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) army.”  KPA company commanders and political instructors delivers also made speeches during the meeting.  According to KCNA, the meeting speakers said “that all the companies of the KPA grew to be the ranks of human bullets and bombs devotedly defending the leader as they share the intention, love and destiny with the supreme commander under his energetic leadership and deep loving care” and “that they would turn all the companies into the ones of human bullets and bombs devotedly protecting the leader and defending the country full of faith and confidence that they are sure to emerge victorious as they are led by the supreme commander.”  Kim Jong Un listened to “all the speeches made by company commanders and political instructors at the meeting” and “invited the commander and former political instructor of the  Persimmon Tree (Kamnamu) company there to have a photo taken with them.”

Meeting speakers at the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors held in Pyongyang on 22 and 23 October 2013 (Photos: KCTV stills).

Meeting speakers at the 4th Meeting of KPA Company Commanders and Political Instructors held in Pyongyang on 22 and 23 October 2013 (Photos: KCTV stills).

Kim Jong Un also delivered an “historic speech” in which he appreciated “the successes made in the work of the companies” and lauded “those company commanders and political instructors who rendered devoted service for them.”  He also “set forth the tasks to be carried out to develop all companies into elite revolutionary ones devotedly defending the WPK Central Committee and the ways to do so” and “underscored need for them to firmly unite around the Party Central Committee to take the lead in overcoming difficulties and trials and fully prepare all the company soldiers politically and ideologically and in military technique.”  Kim Jong Un “called for establishing strong discipline in the companies, boosting their appearance as regular units, decisively raising the level of company commanding ability and improving the living conditions and environment of the soldiers” and noted “that the meeting helped him find out jewel-like patriots and unassuming commanders and political instructors who dedicated themselves to strengthening their companies.”  According to KCNA he said “in an excited tone that the Party Central Committee decided to highly praise them.”

VMar Choe Ryong Hae read a proclamation which awarded the title of Labor Hero, the Hammer and Sickle gold medal and Order of National Flag 1st Class to KPA company commander Kim Sang Il, KPA political instructor Pak Son Gi, company commander Kim Kwang Gum, Capt. Min Kwang Hae and company commander Sa Song Guk for performing “distinguished feats in bolstering up the KPA by strengthening companies into vanguard devotedly defending the leader, a-match-for-a hundred combat ranks and turning them into homes dear to soldiers, true to the last instructions of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and the leadership of the party.”

Kim Jong Un delivered the meeting’s closing speech.  According to KCNA he said “the meeting would go down in the history of the Chuch’e-based army building as it provided a landmark for the development of the powerful revolutionary Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) army with the strengthening of companies as a starting point under the uplifted banner of modeling the whole army on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism” and “declared the meeting closed, expressing belief that all participants in the meeting would augment the might of the People’s Army in every way, united close around the party, and thus perform their duty in carrying out the revolutionary cause of Military-First (So’ngun).

Kim Jong Un Attends Two Concerts

16 Oct
Kim Jong Un (C) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) applauds during a performance by Russia's Orchestra of the 21st Century, given to mark the 65th anniversary of DPRK-Russia relations at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater on 15 October 2013.  Also seen in attendance is KWP Secretary Kim Ki Nam (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (C) and his wife Ri Sol Ju (L) applauds during a performance by Russia’s Orchestra of the 21st Century, given to mark the 65th anniversary of DPRK-Russia relations at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater on 15 October 2013. Also seen in attendance is KWP Secretary Kim Ki Nam (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a pair of concerts on 15 October (Tuesday). One concert was given by Russia’s Orchestra of the 21st Century at the East Pyongyang Grand theater and the other was given by the Moranbong Band and Merited State Chorus (a.k.a. Merited State Choir).  Attending the concert of the Orchestra of the 21st Century were Kim Jong Un’s wife Ri Sol Ju (Ri So’l-chu), Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary Kim Ki Nam “creators and artistes of the art organizations of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces [KPISF] and art education institutions, teachers, students and other citizens in Pyongyang” and officials of the Russian Federation’s Embassy in Pyongyang.  Attending the concert of the Moranbong Band and State Merited Chorus were Director of the KPA General Political Department VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Kim Ki Nam, Orchestra of the 21st Century Chief Conductor Pavel Ovsyannikov and the Orchestra’s manager Natalia Ivanovna Semyonova.  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to Munsu Water Park.

Kim Jong Un (R) talks with Manager of the Orchestra of the 21st Century Natalia Ivanovna Semyonova (L) and the orchestra's lead conductor Paval Ovsyannikov (C) at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater on 15 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (R) talks with Manager of the Orchestra of the 21st Century Natalia Ivanovna Semyonova (L) and the orchestra’s lead conductor Paval Ovsyannikov (C) at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater on 15 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The Russian-based Orchestra of the 21st Century performing in a concert marking the 65th anniversary of DPRK-Russia relations at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater on 15 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The Russian-based Orchestra of the 21st Century performing in a concert marking the 65th anniversary of DPRK-Russia relations at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater on 15 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Prior to the start of the Orchestra of the 21st Century concert, given to mark the 65th anniversary of DPRK-Russia relations, Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju greeted the orchestra’s management and recalled that his father, late leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) “watched the performance of the orchestra several times” and Kim Jong Un “appreciated the performing activities conducted by the orchestra, contributing to the development of the bilateral friendly relations.”  The orchestra performed songs from the opera Ruslan and Ludmilla, “Flying in the Sky over Russia,” “Forward towards Stars,” “Ardent Desire,” “Song of Comradeship” and other songs.  According to KCNA, “the artistes made a truthful artistic representation of the warm love of the Russian people for the country and their traditional custom and national emotion.”  After the concert Kim Jong Un congratulated the orchestra members and “met with the leading members of the orchestra and expressed thanks to them for presenting a splendid performance to the delight of the Korean people.”

Kim Jong Un (2nd L) attends a concert by the Moranbong Band and the Merited State Chorus in Pyongyang on 15 October 2013.  Also seen in attendance is Pavel Ovsyannikov (L) of the Orchestra of the 21st Century, Natalia Ivanovna Semyonova (2nd R) of the Orchestra of the 21st Century and VMar Choe Ryong Have (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (2nd L) attends a concert by the Moranbong Band and the Merited State Chorus in Pyongyang on 15 October 2013. Also seen in attendance is Pavel Ovsyannikov (L) of the Orchestra of the 21st Century, Natalia Ivanovna Semyonova (2nd R) of the Orchestra of the 21st Century and VMar Choe Ryong Have (R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The joint concert by the Moranbong Band and State Merited Chorus began with “We Sing of the Party” and included “Ode to the Motherland,” “Mother Party Which Protected My Destiny,” “Our Future is Bright,” “Let’s Defend Socialism,” “His Great Name Is the Banner of Victory,” “Long Live the Workers’ Party of Korea” and other sons.  According to KCNA, “the audience was mesmerized by the performance” and  Kim Jong Un congratulated members of the two DPRK performance troupes.  After the concert Kim Jong Un met with the lead conducted or Orchestra of the 21st Century Pavel Ovsyannikov and the orchestra’s manager Natalia Ivonova Semyonova.  According to KCNA, Ovsyannikov “expressed sincere thanks to Kim Jong Un, saying that he invited the orchestra to watch the joint performance given by the Moranbong Band and the State Merited Chorus after appreciating the performance of his orchestra” and he “said in an excited tone that the joint performance was the performance of the highest level and a really splendid one full of dynamism, vigor and stamina.”  Kim Jong Un “expressed belief and expectation that artistes of the two countries would conduct joint performances and a lot of exchanges to contribute to enriching the mankind’s treasure house of culture and arts.”

Kim Jong Un (R) talks with Natalia Ivanovna Semyonova and Pavel Ovsyannikov after a performance by the Moranbong Band and the Merited Chorus in Pyongyang on 15 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (R) talks with Natalia Ivanovna Semyonova and Pavel Ovsyannikov after a performance by the Moranbong Band and the Merited Chorus in Pyongyang on 15 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The Moranbong Band performs in Pyongyang on 15 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

The Moranbong Band performs in Pyongyang on 15 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un Visits Ku’msusan

10 Oct
Kim Jong Un and senior KPA officials visit Ku'msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 10 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un and senior KPA officials visit Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang on 10 October 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the Ku’msusan (Memorial) Palace of the Sun at midnight on 10 October (Thursday), the 68th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP].  Visiting Ku’msusan with him were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), along with senior KPA officials, commanders of KPA service branches and corps units, and members of the KPA’s KWP Committee.  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was at a commemorative photo session with members of the Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) University faculty who were moving into a new apartment complex.

Kim Jong Un and the members of the KPA’s high command first visited a hall containing statues of his grandfather, late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung, and his father, late leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).  Floral baskets from Kim Jong Un and the KPA were placed in front of the statues.  The group went to a chamber where Kim Il Sung’s remains permanently lie in state.  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “together with other visitors paid homage to him in the humblest reverence.”  They then visited an exhibition of awards, titles, honorary degrees Kim Il Sung received as well as Kim Il Sung’s personal railway coach and car.  The group then visited the chamber where Kim Jong Il’s personal remains lie permanently in state and “paid homage to him in the humblest reverence.”  Kim Jong Un and the senior military leaders then visited an exhibition containing awards, state titles and honorary degrees that Kim Jong Il received and an exhibition of Kim Jong Il’s personal railway coach, an electric cart, his boat and his black Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan.

The Ku’msusan visit on the party’s anniversary was the first observed occasion in DPRK state media at which Gen. Ri Yong Gil was identified as Chief of the KPA General Staff.  Interestingly, on a party-centered occasion, the coterie that accompanied Kim Jong Un on his latest visit to Ku’msusan consisted only of senior KPA officials.  While some members of the KPA’s high command are members of the Party Central Committee or the Party Central Military Commission and with the exception of VMar Choe Ryong Hae (KWP Secretary of Military Affairs), no members of the KWP Secretariat or any KWP Central Committee Department Directors were reported to be in attendance.

View of the statue hall at Ku'msusan Palace of the Sun on 10 October 2013, the 68th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean Workers' Party (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of the statue hall at Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun on 10 October 2013, the 68th anniversary of the foundation of the Korean Workers’ Party (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

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.

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