Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
In March 2010 Kim Jong-il was reported to have made public appearances at thirteen (13) different locations. This is one more visit than he made in February 2010(12), but remains only half the number of visits he made in January (25). Based on the nine (9) KCNA reports of KJI’s visits in March, four (4) can be classified as related to the economy, three (3) were concerts or other performances, one (1) was the rally for the 8 February Vinalon Complex in Hamhung and one (1) was KJI’s meeting and party with the new Chinese Ambassador to the DPRK.
As he did in February, KJI has kept a relatively light public schedule. His most notable appearance was at the 5 March rally in Hamhung, which was his first attendance at a mass rally or parade and several years, and according to ROK media observation, it was the first time he was reported to have attended a mass rally outside Pyongyang. Announcements in late March that the country would hold the second session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly and its intention to construct a light water nuclear reactor indicate that KJI was busy behind the scenes, which is to say a lot of paperwork traffic, emailing and telephone calls. This also does not account for the possibility that KJI will travel to China in early April, and the arrangements and preparations KJI would need to undertake prior to his departure.
In March 2010, 25 different personalities joined KJI. Six (6) of these personalities were reported or observed to have appeared with KJI only once, at the 5 March rally in Hamhung. Jang Song-thaek most frequently accompanied KJI during March, reported in his entourage eight (8) times. Mr. Jang’s wife and KJI’s sister, Kim Kyong-hui was the second-most frequent member of KJI’s entourage, accompanying him seven (7) times. Other top KJI cohorts, and the number of their appearances, during March were: KWP Deputy Director, Ri Jae-il (5); KWP Secretary Kim Ki-nam (4); Senior Deputy Director of the Organization and Guidance Department and KJI aide, Ri Je-gang (4); KWP International Secretary Choe Thae-bok (3); NDC Member and Senior Deputy Director of the KWP Munitions Industry Department, Ju Kyu-chang (3); NDC Vice Chairman and Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, VMAR KimYong-chun (3); and, KWP International Department Director Kim Yong-il (3).
Other notes about KJI’s appearances and cohorts:
–For the second consecutive month KJI neither visited nor inspected any KPA units or bases.
–This is the longest period of time (59 days) when KJI was not accompanied by KPA confidantes Generals Ri Myong-su and Hyon Chol-hae, which exceeds the 45 days from 15 February 2008 to 11 April 2008 when Gens. Ri and Hyon did not accompany KJI.
–This was fourth time in the last calendar year that KJI was joined by Tongbong Cooperative Farm Management Board Chairwoman Ri Yong-ae. Ms. Ri joined KJI during his three tours of the Tongbong Cooperative Farm in 2009, and spoke at the 5 March rally in Hamhung.