North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KPA Political Delegation Visits Vietnam

KPA Navy Political Bureau Director, Col. Gen. O Chol San (L), shakes hands with Lt. Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich (R), head of the VPA General Politics Department on 28 October 2011 in Hanoi (Photo: VPA Newspaper/VNA)

A delegation of KPA political officers, part of the KPA General Political Department (also known as the General Political Bureau) visited Vietnam during 26 to 28 October.  The delegation departed the DPRK on 25 October (Wednesday) headed by Col. Gen. O Chol San, director of the KPA Navy (KPN) Political Bureau.  According to Vietnam News Agency Col. Gen. O and the KPA delegation met with the high command of the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) and visited the VPN political school, the Naval Institute and the command element of the VPA’s 7th Military Zone (region).  On 28 October  the delegation attended a reception hosted by Lt. Gen Ngo Xuan Lich, chief of the VPA General Politics Department.  Vietnam People’s Army Newspaper reported:

At the reception, General Lich confirmed that the Party, the State, Army and people of Vietnam always keep in mind the support from the DPRK’s Party, State, Army and people during Vietnam’s resistance war against foreign invaders.

The cooperation relationship between the two armies, especially the two General Politics Departments, has remarkably developed over the past years. In the coming time, as General Lich said, the two sides should tighten their cooperation, mainly in Party and political affairs.

According to General Lich, several fields needed to be focused on by both General Politics Departments, including military exchanges in culture and arts, experiences on educating the tradition, army missions at all levels for officers, and training for cadets.

For his part, General O Chol San highly appreciated Vietnam’s achievements during the renewal process and expressed his deep admiration for the heroic tradition of Vietnam People’s Army.

General O Chol San also highly spoke of solid politics and the regularity and discipline of some units that the delegation had visited. He added that the DPRK People’s Army would learn and promote Vietnamese experiences in political education and army building.

In addition to serving as the head of political indoctrination and surveillance in the KPA Navy, O Chol San is an alternate (candidate) member of the Party Central Committee, elected in September 2010.  He was promoted to Colonel General on Kim Il-song’s Birthday (Sun’s Day) in April 2010.  This promotions list included a number of KPA general-grade officers, like Col. Gen. O, who have been appointed to key management positions in the DPRK’s national security community during 2007 to 2010.  O Chol San was also reported by DPRK media on 17 March 2011 to have attended Kim Jong Il’s visit to an industrial plant affiliated with KPA Navy Unit #597.

This was the second official trip to Vietnam by a KPA delegation in 2011.  Gen. Pak Jae Gyong (Pak Chae-kyo’ng), Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, led a nine (9) member delegation that visited Vietnam during 24-25 March 2011, as part of a tour of southeast Asian countries.

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