Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK stated media reported on 22 February (Friday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a commemorative photo session with Korean People’s Army [KPA] service members and officers and civilian officials who participated in a meeting on political education and ideological indoctrination lectures in KPA units, and conducted a field inspection of KPA Unit #630 KJU’s first appearance was at the commemorative photo-op occurred on the campus of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces (the venue for the political lecturers’ meetings), in front of the statues of late DPRK founder and president Kim Il Sung and late leader Kim Jong Il. These lectures are conducted by personnel of the KPA General Political Department, which is managed by the KWP Organization Guidance Department. In other systems, some of these lecturers and guides might be termed part of a “political commissar” organization, which the KPA does not have. KJU’s last reported public appearance was his tour of the renovation and construction work at the Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang. Attending the photo-op with Kim Jong Un were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Col. Gen. Ri Pyong Sam (Director of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces’ Political Bureau), Kim Kyong Ok (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department with the portfolio for KPA political management), Hwang Pyong So (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Col. Gen. Son Chol Ju and Lt. Gen. Ryom Chol Song.
Kim Jong Un greeted the assembled service members and officers with a hearty wave. According to KCNA, KJU said “The meeting held on the significant occasion of the 35th anniversary of the first party lecture given in the presence of President Kim Il Sung marks a historic occasion of weighty significance in further strengthening the KPA into the army of the Party and the leader and the invincible revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu as required by the party and the developing revolution” and he “warmly congratulated them on their successful meeting held amid great enthusiasm.” Before posing for the commemorative photos, KJU lauded “”the participants for fully devoting their wisdom and enthusiasm to strengthening the KPA as required by modeling the whole army on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism.”
Kim Jong Un’s second reported public appearance was a field inspection and guidance of exercises of KPA Large Combined (taeyonhap pudae) Unit #630 and elements of the KPA’s Air and Anti-Air Forces. KJU was accompanied by a large coterie of the KPA’s high command. In attendance to observe the drills were VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Kim Kyok Sik (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), VMar Kim Yong Chun (Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission and Director of the KWP Civil Defense Department), Lt. Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Commander of the V Army Corps, a forward echelon [deployed] unit), Col. Gen. Son Chol Ju (KPA Supreme Command staff), Col. Gen. Jo Kyong Chol (Chief of the Military Security Command [MSC]), Gen. Yun Tong Hyon, Gen Ri Pyong Chol (Chief of the KPA Air and Anti-Air Forces), Col. Gen. Choe Kyong Song (Commanding Officer of XI Corps, the main SOF unit), Col. Rim Kwang Il, Kang Ki Sop (Director-General of the DPRK General Bureau of Civil Aviation), Lt. Gen. Son Chong Nam (KPA Air and Anti-Air Forces), Lt. Ro Hung Se, Gen. Yun Jong Rin (Chief of the Guard Command), Col. Gen. Choe Pu Il (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff), along with Hwang Pyong So, Ra Chong Il and Hong Yong Chil from the Party Central Committee.
Upon arriving at the training grounds, KJU went into an observation facility and was briefed about the exercises and “learned in detail about the preparedness and the influence of the bad weather on the exercise.” According to KCNA, “pilots promptly and accurately conducted the taking off and landing drills by using a motorway as an airfield.” KJU and the members of the KPA’s high command then watched a paratroop exercise. KCNA reported that “despite strong wind, paratroopers landed on the fixed points by applying the combat methods and actions they cultivated in their day-to-day trainings.”
According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said “Their drills were carried out very well, adding that the pilots and the paratroopers successfully performed difficult missions despite very adverse weather conditions. This was the result of their good day-to-day trainings. Battles are not fought depending on weather conditions and an engagement with the enemy takes place under the worst conditions. In order for soldiers to creditably discharge their missions any time and under any circumstances and conditions, they should conduct drills under the simulated conditions of an actual battle with high ideological awareness.” KCNA also reported that “Underlining the need for the KPA to embody the spirit of the Enlarged Meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea in the military and political work, he called on all KPA units to raise the hot wind of training just as the anti-Japanese guerrillas did in Mt. Paektu.” Kim Jong Un also remarked that “the drills conducted by them this time show that it is necessary to put exercises on a scientific basis as required by a modern war. As I emphasized while watching the exercise of KPA’s Large Combined Unit 526, it is necessary to steadily study and round off the Korean style combat methods suited to the modern war and modernize the weaponry in order to defeat the enemy. KPA service personnel [should] put spurs to making preparations for going into action, keeping themselves at maximum alert at all times. Once the enemies make a provocation, you should give full play to the inexhaustible combat capability to deal deadly blows at them, giving them no time to come to their senses, and blow up their strongholds of aggression.”
After discussing the training exercises, Kim Jong Un posed for commemorative photographs with senior commanders along with service members and officers who participated in the exercises.