Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
(n.b. Kim Jong-il’s last known appearance was at the Paekhwawon State Guest House for a meeting with PRC Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie on 25 November)
Kim Jong-il made a rather hasty retreat from Pyongyang to South Hwanghae Province late last week. With the dark winds of a possible winter food crisis blowing around the DPRK’s cabin door, General-Secretary Kim visited the Oguk Cooperative Farm in Anak County. He first involved himself in genuflections to “the monument to the on-the-spot-guidance given by President Kim Il-sung and the room for the education in the revolutionary history.” General-Secretary Kim remarked that, “Oguk-ri, where once only backwardness and poverty prevailed has turned into a well-known granary and a land of bliss good to work and live in thanks to the benevolence of Kim Il-sung.” He then took in his briefing by the farm and rural management officials, including production statistics that may or may not have been manipulated, but seemed to satisfy Kim Jong-il’s curiosity as he pronounced the farm “overfulfilling this year’s plan for grain production.” He informed the farm’s functionaries that after his tour, it may pay them a handsome dividend if they got a head start on next year’s agricultural production, “such profound loving care as personally solving knotty problems facing the farm.” He then mounted his usual “bird’s eye view” for a glance at the farmland before embarking on a mini-lecture on the Three Revolutions.
Kim Jong-il moved on the next day for an inspection of the KPA Naval Command Unit 587, presumably stationed along the West (Yellow) Sea. General-Secretary Kim “arrived at the combined unit command, cheers of hurrah, like a hurricane, shook the naval port, and thunderous shouts of the slogans ‘Let us devote out lives and fight for the respected and beloved Supreme Commander Comrade Kim Jong-il,’ ‘Guns and bombs,’ and ‘Death-defyingly safeguard’ vigorously rang out to the vast sea.”
Kim Jong-il was greeted and received a report from KPA Navy Commander Col. Gen. Chong Myong-to. He then proceeded to visit “the monument to the suryongni’mui‘s on-the-spot-guidance and history presentation room.” He also heard a briefing as to the command’s training and remarked “in the new year as well we must more resolutely prepare our military people as simmering one-a-match-for-100 fighters though training.” The slogan “training is combat” was referenced and then, perhaps alluding to the recent naval skirmish along the NLL, General-Secretary Kim said, “Along with high
ideological readiness by the servicemen, success in training depends on dutifully doing training preparations. . .to make the Paektu hot wind of training fill the entire army from the first day of new year’s training.” After this bit of rallying of the troops, Kim Jong-il toured the rest of the base and said, “Command officers should always carefully look after the warriors with the affection of true parents.”
Over the weekend, Kim Jong-il conducted an inspection of KPA farming units. He visited a goat farm “newly built [by] Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guard Tank Division of the KPA.” The goat farm produces goat’s milk, yogurt and cheese as well dairy cows and “other domestic animals.” General-Secretary Kim toured the farm and met with two former KPA soldiers who work at the farm, “to take care of their living and give a warm pep talk to them.” Kim Jong-il moved on to a guidance tour of a cotton farm “under KPA unit 1596 [and] greatly satisfied with unprecedentedly rich cotton harvest reaped by the officials and other working people of the farm.” He toured the cotton farm and held the KPA as “creditably playing a pioneer’s role in socialist construction.” He said that, “all the leading officials [should] minutely organize work as required by their zeal and push ahead with it in the same revolutionary work style as done by the commanding officers of the KPA.”
He also inspected KPA Unit 109, which minus any involvement in West (Yellow) Sea skirmishes, was a retread of his visit to the KPA Navy Command Unit 587. General-Secretary Kim “praised the servicepersons for doing their best for training with unusual enthusiasm.” This was a casual inspection tour of the unit and a photo-op for the Supreme Commander. Kim Jong-il and his travel party headed back to Pyongyang and inspected a pig farm and foodstuffs factory in suburban Pyo
ngyang. These facilities are under the supervision of the KPA. He remarked that the pig farm is “the best one as the high quality has been ensured in the construction. . .it has become possible to hand over one more structure of lasting value for the happiness of people to posterity.” This particular tour was notable because Kim Jong-il remarked about , the construction “of anti-epidemic facilities and thoroughly establish a strict anti-epidemic system” a veiled reference to swine flu (a/k/a H1N1).
General-Secretary Kim also toured the Sokjong Factory for Producing Slice Vegetables Preserved in Soy Sauce, where “he made the rounds of various production processes of the factory to learn in detail about its construction, technical equipment and production.” During this tour he remarked that, “If factories are built on such a profitable basis and minutely managed. . .it is possible to greatly contribute to diversifying people’s diet in a short span of time.” In the Sokjong area, Kim Jong-il also had a look at the DPRK’s shovel ready projects, seeing “new-type road paving equipment used by road builder and watched them at work.”
Kim Jong-il’s final inspection tour in this particular run occurred at the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm, also in Pyongyang. The fruit farm is under the management of the Ministry of Public Security, whose officials conducted General-Secretary Kim’s tour. The farm was constructed by “soldier-builders [who] built a modern large-scale fruit producer of world standard in a matter of a few months.” The farm’s officials happily showed off their product, particularly the apples which were weighed in front of Kim Jong-il. He said, “It is very gratifying that they have not only created orchards based on modern science and technology built an organic fertilizer production base for steadily increasing the fertility of soil under a long-term plan.” He also toured the residences and other living facilities of the farm’s personnel. The farm must have made an impression on General-Secretary Kim as the KCNA report notes his “sending a lot of vehicles and entertainment equipment to the farm as gifts.” He paid to tribute to the Ministry which operates a farm “once again powerfully demonstrating the might of the interior forces, political defender of the Party and reliable protector of the people’s life and property.”
The inspections and guidance tours occur in advance of the final month of the 100 Day Battle Campaign. General-Secretary Kim’s appearances at economic locations emphasized two themes. The first is “speed” which references back to the speed campaigns in the post-Korean War era. General-Secretary Kim has appropriated these older speed campaigns since the 1970’s, and is using the speed theme as a central theme in the 100 Day Battle Campaign (much as I did during the 1990’s) Many of these reports underscore the efficiency with which construction projects are completed, and those workers’ units or solider-builders who complete projects in less time are noted as those worthy of emulation. The second theme is the “building of a strong and prosperous country” which has been the pretext for both the 150-Day and 100 Day Battle Campaigns in 2009.
Kim Jong-il’s visits were strategically chosen ahead of the currency revaluation this week. General-Secretary Kim stuck to food production and a cotton farm, and distinctly avoided consumer goods or heavy industry. All of these production facilities were either constructed or are staffed by KPA soldiers or personnel of the internal security apparatus. There was also a subtle emphasis on internal security, not only did General-Secretary Kim visit an MPS-run fruit farm, but he inspected KPA Unit 109 which may be subordinate to the III Army Corps. The Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guards Tank Division, which runs the goat farm he visited, is also linked to regime security. It is highly likely that the visit to the goat farm and the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm were General-Secretary Kim’s pretext for issuing security orders related to the currency revaluation.
These tours also had indirect connections to other North Korean elites. Jang Song-thaek was certainly pleased to show off the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm, which is under his purview as the political manager of the MPS. But his late brother Gen. Jang Song-gil was a political commissar of the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guard Tank Division until ill health required him to take a position in the MPAF Revolutionary Museum. General-Secretary Kim’s inspection of Unit 109 is “honored with the title of O Jung Hup-led 7th Regiment” alludes to someone we don’t see very often. NDC Vice Chair and Operations Bureau Director, Gen. O Kuk-ryol, is O Jung-hup’s son. The elder O was killed fighting with Kim Il-sung in Manchuria in the 1930’s, and O Kuk-ryol lived with Kim Il-sung until he went off to school in 1946.
I have been compiling Kim Jong-il’s tours, concerts and meetings (and the reports of them) for a product I will issue on New Year’s Day. Is the “leader’s love” in vain? The so-called Potemkin Village is arranged for many leader’s visits (the North Koreans are not anomalous in this regard). A report from Sankei Shimbun says that, “General-Secretary Kim has excessively given on-the-spot guidance that was insignificant and impromptu, while many plants that received inspections emphasized padded results that differ from the actual figures.” There is also a story that when General-Secretary Kim ordered electricity redirected to Pyongyang, a steel plant lost power and had to destroy “a large number of its products.” The report also states about another factory visited by Kim Jong-il that “products were not actually manufactured at the plant and were reportedly obtained in the black market, rewrapped and sold by the plant. . .a senior WPK official told the above-mentioned source, ‘They feel if they fail to achieve their production target they should quit their job. Therefore, they have no choice but to submit a bogus report.'”
In his pre-revaluation inspection/guidance swing, General Secretary Kim was joined by the KWP’s gang of three: KWP Secretary Kim Ki-nam, KWP Financial Planning Director Pak Nam-gi and brother-in-law and KWP Administration Director Jang Song-thaek. At the KPA bases and farms, Kim Jong-il was escorted by National Defense CommissionVice Chair and Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, VMAR Kim Yong-chun, Senior Deputy Director of the MPAF General Political Bureau and NDC Member, Gen. Kim Jong-gak, MPAF Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Ri Yong-ho and NDC bureau chieftains, Gens. Hyon Chol-hae and Ri Myong-su. At the KPA Navy Command Unit 587, General-Secretary Kim was escorted by KPA Navy Commander, Col. Gen. Chong Myong-to. At the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm, Kim Jong-il was escorted by Minister of Public Security and NDC Member Gen. Ju Sang-song and Ri Pyong-sam, director of the MPS Political Department. Seen in photographs, but not mentioned in reports at the Oguk Cooperative Farm was OGD Senior Deputy Director Ri Je-gang.
Reports from KCTV
KCTV News Broadcast with reports of the tours of Oguk Cooperative Farm and KPA Navy Command here
KCTV News Broadcast with reports of the tours of Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm and Sokjon here
(these are MS PowerPoint files; right click and select “Play Movie” option)
Other Photos from Guidance and Inspection Tours Conducted 26-30 November: