Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
It seems Kim Jong-un (Kim Jong-il’s youngest son and supposed successor) was deflowered in the role of conducting a guidance tour solus. Chosun Ilbo reports that Mr. Kim inspected the KPA’s IX Army Corps based around Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province. The report quotes Kim Jong-un as having said, “The military unit which the general considers the most important is the Ninth Army Corps in charge of guarding the border.” This may be the first report of Mr. Kim conducting a guidance, or inspection, tour of a KPA unit. The IX Army Corps may be directly subordinated to the National Defense Commission, and Mr. Kim conducting a tour would conform to earlier reporting that Kim Jong-un was employed in a middle to senior level position within the NDC. Chosun Ilbo also notes that Mr. Kim’s remarks indicate “the first frontline for North Korea is not the military demarcation line between the two Koreas but the North Korea-China border.” The number of North Korean citizen migrating from North Hamgyong into China has steadily increased in the last few years, and the area is the DPRK’s major locale for drug, cigarette and other illicit trafficking.
The IX Army Corps partially consists of the former VI Army Corps. In 1995 or 1996, the VI Army Corps was disbanded and folded into the IX Army Corps. There are disparate accounts as to why VI Corps was disbanded. One reports cites corruption, and another report cites the VI has attempting an insurrection against the central powers in Pyongyang. The commanding officers were executed and the unit disbanded, a sentence implemented by current NDC Vice Chair, VMAR Kim Yong-chun, and current NDC Member and CCKWP Administration Department Director Jang Song-thaek.
Kim Jong-un and his brother Kim Jong-chol are not purely guidance and inspection tour virgins. There were reports of their participation in economic and Party inspections in North Pyongan Province during the spring and summer of 2008. For any Kim Jong-un succession agnostics, it should be noted that in the 1970’s Kim Pyong-il (current DPRK Ambassador to Poland and Kim Jong-il’s step-brother) participated in guidance tours and Kim Kyong-hui has conducted her own inspection tours. This seems to be the first report of one of General-Secretary Kim’s sons touring a military unit on his own.