Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Yonhap reports that in 2009 Kim Jong-il has made 156 public appearances–which is to say guidance and inspection tours, meetings with foreign dignitaries and attending concerts. This information is based on a report from the Unification Ministry, an ROK agency which the North Korean press periodically slams. This week Rodong Sinmun published several editorials about the Unification Ministry and its minister. The report about General-Secretary Kim’s public appearances breaks them down by type–economic (64), diplomatic (13) and KPA unit inspections (43), among others. KWP Secretary of Party History Kim Ki-nam is identified as General-Secretary Kim’s most frequent traveling companion, making 107 visits. It is is possible Secretary Kim has displaced Gen. Hyon Chol-hae, who in recent years was joined with Kim Jong-il at the hip.
The Yonhap report also has some useful commentary from the venerable Cheong Seong-chang, of the Sejong Institute. Less useful, perhaps, is a Open Radio for North Korea rumor that General-Secretary Kim has chronic laryngitis. Meanwhile, KCNA is reporting that Kim Jong-il received a letter from President Obama, the third US President to pen a communique to the KPA Supreme Commander. One of the proposals mentioned in President Obama’s letter is the establishment of a liaison office in Pyongyang, which Yonhap originally reported and is now being denied by the White House.
There are thirteen (13) days left in December, so it is highly likely General-Secretary Kim will make a few more appearances before 2009 terminates. On a side note, I will publish my own count and breakdown of General-Secretary Kim’s appearances on New Year’s Day.