Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK media reported on 1 January that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) conducted an inspection of the Korean People’s Army’s [KPA] 105th Tank Division (also known as the 105th Armored Division). Kim Jong Un visited the tank division’s barracks, historical exhibitions, education facilities and posed for a commemorative photograph with members of the unit.
He was accompanied by Ri Yong Ho, Jang Song Taek, Kim Jong Gak, Hwang Pyong So, Hyon Chol Hae and Pak Jae Gyong. Kim Jong Un’s visit to the 105th Tank Division, also known as the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guard Tank Division, on the first day of the year continues a precedent set by Kim Jong Il, whose inspections of the division were reported on 1 January in 2009 and 2010. KJI was not reported to have inspected the division during 2011, however he observed the division’s exercises in December 2010, his penultimate reported public appearance of 2010.
Kim Jong Un’s involvement in military affairs and KPA support for his succession were a significant aspect of the 2012 Joint New Year’s Editorial:
The officers and men of the KPA should cherish an unshakable faith that the great Comrade Kim Jong Il will always be with them and a noble moral obligation to him, and firmly defend his achievements for army-building and add eternal glory to them by force of arms.
The entire army should place absolute trust in and follow Kim Jong Un and become human rifles and bombs to defend him unto death, holding high the slogan “Let us defend with our very lives the Party Central Committee headed by the dear respected Comrade Kim Jong Un!”
At this juncture, when the Juche-oriented cause of army building has entered a new historic phase, the KPA should intensify the Party political work aimed at thoroughly establishing the unified command system of Kim Jong Un, Supreme Commander of our revolutionary armed forces. True to the lifetime intentions of Kim Jong Il, it should take the lead in supporting faithfully the Songun-based revolutionary leadership of Kim Jong Un, the brilliant commander born of Mt. Paektu, and establish throughout it the revolutionary climate of carrying out his orders and instructions to the letter, without reservation and even unto death.
The security of our country and people, heritage bequeathed by Kim Jong Il, and victory in the building of a thriving nation, rest on the arms of Songun. Under the slogan “Training is also a battle!” the KPA should conduct training in an atmosphere of actual battle as befits the revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu, so as to prepare all the officers and men to be a-match-for-a-hundred combatants who could implement independently and actively the operational combat tasks assigned to them, a death-defying corps for national reunification. They should be fully ready to deal prompt and merciless blows at the enemy and achieve national reunification, if they dare infringe upon our dignity and sovereignty.
The lengthy editorial published by the North’s newspapers of the party, military and youth militia is closely scrutinized by officials and experts in South Korea, the United States and other regional powers as it offers clues on the North’s policy goals in the new year.
The North’s repeated appeal for allegiance comes as Kim, believed to be in his late 20s, appears to be consolidating his power he inherited upon the death of his father, the late leader Kim Jong-il, last month.
Kim has risen to the post of the supreme commander of the communist nation’s massive armed forces, in the latest sign that the late Kim’s youngest son has been solidifying power.
The editorial pressed its military to intensify political efforts to thoroughly establish Kim’s “unified command system.”
Winning support from the country’s 1.1 million-strong military, which served as a key backbone of the late Kim’s totalitarian rule, is seen as key for the young leader in consolidating his power.
The editorial praised the untested leader as “the brilliant commander” and “another peerless patriot” who is “precisely the great Kim Jong-il,” in what could be the North’s latest attempt to ensure the second father-to-son power succession goes smoothly.
The late leader assumed power in 1994 when his father, the North’s founding leader Kim Il-sung, died of heart failure at the age of 82.
Despite Kim’s demise, North Korea said it will uphold the policies of its late leader to help achieve a thriving socialist country under the leadership of his son, Kim Jong-un.
“It is the steadfast determination of our party that it will make no slightest vacillation and concession in implementing the instructions and policies he had laid out in his lifetime and that it will allow no change in this process,” the editorial said.
The North’s message underscored its commitment to stabilizing Kim’s leadership by following his late father’s instructions, said a South Korean official handling inter-Korean affairs.
“It shows that internal stability is the North’s top priority,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, citing policy.
Kim Jong Un was also reported to have visited Ku’msusan Memorial Palace on 1 January (Sunday) with members of the central leadership. This visit was his first reported public appearance since the national memorial rally for KJI on 29 December and his first public activity since he was identified as KPA Supreme Commander during a Political Bureau meeting on 30 December. KCNA reports:
Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army and supreme leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea, state and army, together with senior officials of the party, state and armed forces organs, visited the Kumsusan Memorial Palace Sunday on the New Year to pay homage to President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il.
He was accompanied by senior officials of the party, state and armed forces organs Kim Yong Nam, Choe Yong Rim, Ri Yong Ho, Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Yong Chun, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Thae Bok, Yang Hyong Sop, Kang Sok Ju, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Gak, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Il, Pak To Chun, Choe Ryong Hae, Thae Jong Su, Kim Phyong Hae, Mun Kyong Dok, Ju Kyu Chang, U Tong Chuk and Kim Chang Sop and members of the Central Military Commission of the WPK and the DPRK NDC and staff members of the KPA Supreme Command.
Kim Jong Un first paid tribute to Kim Il Sung.
He entered the hall where the statue of Kim Il Sung is standing.
Laid before the statue was a floral basket in the joint name of the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the WPK, the DPRK National Defence Commission and the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK.
Kim Jong Un, together with senior officials of the party, state and armed forces organs, paid tribute to the statue of the President and then entered the hall where the President lies in state.
He, together with senior officials of the party, state and armed forces organs, made a bow to the President in humblest reverence.
Then he paid tribute to Kim Jong Il.
He entered the hall where the portrait of smiling Kim Jong Il is displayed.
Laid before the portrait was a floral basket in the joint name of the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the WPK, the DPRK National Defence Commission and the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK.
Kim Jong Un, together with senior officials of the party, state and armed forces organs, made a bow in humblest reverence before the portrait of smiling Kim Jong Il, paying high tribute to him.
A couple of notes; first, in reporting on Kim Jong Un’s public activities KCNA also reported the day the visits occurred. DPRK media gradually phased out and then completely ceased during 2002-2003 when it reported on KJI’s public appearances, except for publicized visits by foreign government officials or if he attended national events such as SPA sessions, parades or report meetings. Second, in reporting Kim Jong Un’s visit to Ku’msusan KCNA reported that KJU and other members of the central leadership visited KIS’ body (“the hall where the president lies in state”), but only visited the portrait of KJI.