North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Jong Un Observes KPA Live Fire Exercises

Kim Jong Un (L) observes live fire military exercises of the KPA. Also in this image are: Gen. Kim Myong Kuk (C) and Gen. Kim Won Hong (R) (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap)

DPRK state media reported on 14 March that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) inspected and observed live fire military drills of the three service branches of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] which was described as a “combined strike drill.”  Kim Jong Un’s last reported public appearance was his inspection of the Ch’o Islet’s coastal defense unit.

Kim Jong Un (3rd L) talks with senior leaders of the KPA, including VMar Kim Jong Gak (R), vice (deputy) director of the KPA General Political Bureau (department) (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap)

Gen. Kim Myong Kuk (L), chief of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau and member of the Party Central Military Commission, briefs Kim Jong Un (R) prior to the KPA's live fire exercises. Also in this image (background, R) is Gen. Ri Myo'ng-su, who headed the Operations Bureau from 1996 to 2007 (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un was received by members of the KPA’s high command Gen. Kim Myong Kuk (Operations Bureau), VMar Kim Jong Gak (General Political Department), Gen. Kim Wo’n-hong (Security Command), VMar Kim Yong Chun (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces) and VMar Ri Yong Ho (Chief of the KPA General Staff).  The central leadership generated a significant turnout for this event, despite numerous senior and mid-level party and government officials undergoing vigorous background investigations to determine the intensity of their single-hearted unity.

Watching the exercises with him were his aunt Kim Kyong Hui and uncle Jang Song Taek, Party Secretaries Choe Tae Bok, Kim Ki Nam, Mun Kyong Dok, Choe Ryo’ng-hae, Pak To Chun, Kim Yong Il, Tae Jong Su, Kim Pyong Hae, Vice Premier and Political Bureau Member Kang Sok Ju, NDC Member and chief operating functionary of military industries Ju Kyu Chang, Minister of State Security U Tong Chuk, Ministry of State Security Political Bureau Director Col. Gen. Kim Chang Sop and Minister of People’s Security Ri Myo’ng-su.  In attendance from the KPA’s service branches were Gen. Jong Myong Do (KPA Navy), Gen. Ri Pyong Chol (KPA Air Force) along with Gen. Pak Jae Gyong (Propaganda, etc.) and Gen. Kim Yong Chol (Intelligence).

Also in attendance were officials of the country’s military industries, commanders of the KPA’s large combined units (taeyonhap pudae), a selection of provincial KWP chief secretaries and “members of the leading organs of the WPK Central Committee in Pyongyang and officials of ministries and national institutions and in the fields of science, education, culture and arts, public health, media.”

Kim Jong Un salutes KPA commanders and senior officials after watching "a combined strike drill" of the KPA's three service branches (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap)

KCNA reports:

Kim Jong Un received a salute from the chief of the General Staff of the KPA before mounting the observation deck.

After hearing a detailed explanation about the program of the drill and distribution of striking units, he issued an order to start the drill.

Nose diving flying corps and warships of the KPA Navy making their ways through rough waters hit their targets and artillery pieces in their positions ridden with powder smoke dealt deadly blows at the “group of enemy warships” with volleys of fire.

Greatly pleased to watch the valiant and resourceful aviation of pilots conducting contour flight, zooming and various upturns, he appreciated their successful drill.

He put forth highly important tasks which would serve as guidelines for further developing the KPA into invincible revolutionary armed forces.

He instructed the officers and men of the three services to think of battle fields at all times, whether they are in sleep or in dreams, adding that they should always keep themselves on such maximum alert as they are just before opening fire, deeply aware of the sacred responsibility to defend the country.

The KPA service personnel ready to return fire for fire are filled with the will to deal merciless and deadly blows at the aggressors who provoke the DPRK even a bit, he said, ordering them to mercilessly wipe out the enemies with arms of justice and revenge once they go into action.

A fight never starts after an ad is made and the enemies are watching for a chance to make a surprise attack, he noted, instructing the whole army to defend the sky, land and seas of the socialist country as firm as an iron wall while watching every movement of the enemies with vigilance.

Our socialist system centered on the popular masses will shine forever as an invulnerable fortress as it is guarded by the heroic KPA, a strong elite army built under the care of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il, he added.

He expressed belief that the KPA service personnel would firmly protect the security of the country and the happiness of its people by force of arms.

News of Kim Jong Un watching the military drills occurred as South Korean media reported that the KPA Navy’s West Sea Fleet resumed training and operations.  JoongAng Ilbo reports:

Submarines of the North Korean West Sea Fleet Command have recently begun underwater operations, intelligence sources in the South told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

“The submarines were docked during the winter, but they recently began moving as the weather warmed up,” a source said. “Of them, we could not confirm whereabouts of one or two submarines, so we believe they are engaged in underwater operations.”

North Korea operates about 70 submarines, and they are normally docked at the bases near Nampo or Bipa Cape during the winter for maintenance work or the crew’s ground training.

They resume activities during spring, sources said, adding that the submarines are often considered the top priority of the South Korean military’s surveillance because they are hard to detect once they begin underwater operations.

“It is possible that the North began operating the submarines in response to our military’s Foal Eagle exercise,” a military official said. “But we are still watching the situation very carefully because the second anniversary of the Cheonan’s sinking is drawing nearer and the Nuclear Security Summit is also coming up.”

The anniversary of the Cheonan’s sinking and the opening of the nuclear summit both fall on March 26. Foal Eagle refers to the South Korean-U.S. combined field training exercise that takes place annually. This year’s drill began March 1 and will continue until April 30. About 11,000 American troops, including 10,500 stationed outside Korea, are participating in a series of ground, air and maritime drills with Korean forces.

In addition to the sensitive timing, military intelligence officials also said the submarines’ operation took place amidst heightened tensions between the two Koreas.

One comment on “Kim Jong Un Observes KPA Live Fire Exercises

  1. Pingback: Kim Jong Un Observes KPA Live Fire Exercises | NK News

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