Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on 2 February (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a commemorative photo session with participants of the 4th Meeting of Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Cell Secretaries. KJU’s last reported public appearance was his his attendance on the last day of the party cells secretaries’ meeting. Attending the photo-op with KJU were: Kim Yong Nam (President of the Supreme People’s Assembly Presidium), Choe Yong Rim (DPRK Cabinet Premier), Gen. Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korea People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission [NDC] and Director of the KWP Administration Department), Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary and Department Director, and KJU’s aunt), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Department Director), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary), Pak To Chun (KWP Secretary), VMar Kim Yong Chun (Vice Chairman of the NDC and Director of the KWP Civil Defense Department), Gen. O Kuk Ryol (Vice Chairman of the NDC), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Department Director), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Department Director), Kim Pyong Hae (KWP Secretary and Director), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Department Director), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang City [municipal] KWP Committee), Col. Gen. Ri Pyong Sam (Director of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces [KPISF] Political Bureau) and Jo Yon Jun (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department).
KCNA reported that after KJU entered the hall where the photos were taken “participants burst into cheers of ‘hurrah!’ and enthusiastically welcomed him” and that KJU “extended a warm salute to them and all other cell secretaries who have made unassuming, devoted efforts for the WPK’s development and the country’s prosperity with the pride and honor of being cadres of primary party units.”
According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said “that the conference would be recorded in the history of the WPK as an important milestone in the drive for increasing the party’s important function in every way and achieving the final victory in their efforts to build a thriving nation as required by a new era for the accomplishment of the revolutionary cause of Chuch’e.” KJU and members of the central leadership posed for commemorative photos the party cell meeting participants with KJU “warmly congratulating them on ensuring the successful conference with high zeal and active participation.”
Reiterating remarks that he made in speeches at the meeting of party cell secretaries, KJU “expressed expectation and belief that the participants in the conference and all other cell secretaries single-mindedly keeping to the road of revolution under the leadership of the party would fulfill the revolutionary duties they assumed in the holy struggle to bring earlier the future of the prosperity, firmly united around the Central Committee of the WPK.” Not long after the commemorative photo-op with KJU, DPRK state media reported that party cell secretaries ”
Notes on KJU visit
Unlike previous photo-op sessions, this was entirely a party-based event and Kim Jong Un was accompanied by the KWP’s core senior leadership. In terms of cohort analysis counts, in attendance were nine KWP (CC) Political Bureau Members (including those on the presidium) and eight KWP (CC) Political Bureau Alternates (candidate members), nine central party secretaries (or members of the KWP Secretariat) and eight KWP (CC) Department Directors/Senior Deputy **Directors. Two of the more interesting DPRK elites who joined KJU at the photo-op were NDC Vice Chairmen VMar Kim Yong Chun and Gen. O Kuk Ryol, both of him were platform (rostrum) attendees during the 4th Meeting of Party Cell Secretaries.
VMar Kim and Gen. O have long-standing close professional and personal ties, and they have been linked to the nuclear weapons program. Perhaps the atomic burlesque act performed at Punggye-ri for satellite image analysts is making its way to #1 event. It should be noted, however, that because of their close ties to the late leader Kim Jong Il, VMar Kim and and Gen. O are elder elites who’ve retained senior elite status in the party and military for several decades (a point regularly made by my colleague Nicolas Levi). It is interesting that these two, who are reliable seat fillers at at national meetings and Pyongyang performances, should (almost selectively) show up at a KJU event. One might contrast their presence at this photo-op and at party cell secretaries’ meeting, with the distinct absence of Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, Chief of the KPA General Staff.
**I will group Jo Yon Jun, Senior Deputy (1st Vice) Director of the OGD along with other department directors, as that position is functionally and practicially the equivalent to a department director’s position; this applies to the 3-5 other DPRK elites who have the status of Senior Deputy (1st Vice) Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department