Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
In one of his first acts as central leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong Un ordered the suspension of the Korean People’s Army’s [KPA] annual winter training cycle prior to DPRK media publicizing the death of Kim Jong Il. After the July 1994 death of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il issued a similar order and many KPA officers and service members remained in barracks. Yonhap reports:
The North’s state media reported Kim Jong-il’s death Monday, two days after it occurred. The Seoul source said before the passing was announced, Kim Jong-un ordered all military units to halt field exercises and training and return to their bases.
“This is a direct example showing Kim Jong-un’s complete control over the military,” the source said, adding the move also indicated that the younger Kim is poised to become the top commander of the North’s military.
Kim Jong-un became vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party and a four-star general last year, indicating Kim Jong-il’s intentions to make his youngest known son the country’s next leader.
South Korean intelligence officials had previously believed Kim Jong-un had not yet assumed full control over the armed forces in the aftermath of his father’s sudden death.
Officials were only able to confirm that Jong-un’s order two days after he’d issued it. Won Sei-hoon, head of Seoul’s National Intelligence Service, and Kim Kwan-jin, the South’s defense minister, came under fire Tuesday after admitting the service learned of Kim Jong-il’s death from television news coverage.
South Korean officials said they have not observed any unusual activity from north of the border, but that the North has reinforced its security forces at the Joint Security Area near the border.