Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on 30 May (Thursday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the Songdowon International Children’s Camp and the Songdowon Youth Open-Air Theater in Kangwo’n, capital city of Kangwo’n Province. His last observed public appearance was his visit to the 25 August Fishery Station of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Unit #313. Attending Kim Jong Un’s visits to the children’s camp and outdoor theater in Wo’nsan were Senior Deputy [1st vice] Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Propaganda and Agitation Department Choe Hwi, Deputy KWP Department Director (for construction and design) Ma Won Chun and Deputy KWP Department Director Pak Tae Song.
Kim Jong Un’s first stop was a tour of the Songdowon International Children’s Camp. After arriving at the camp, Kim Jong Un examined a statue of his grandfather, late DPRK President and founder, Kim Il Sung. He said that the camp is “a historic place” and whilst “recollecting that Kim Il Sung personally chose the site of the camp in 1959, the postwar period, and made sure that it was built, he added that in the subsequent period leader Kim Jong Il saw to it that it was reconstructed as the Songdowon International Children’s Camp and visited it in March, 1993 when the country was in a grave situation.” Kim Jong Un also remarked that “it is the firm determination of the WPK to successfully remodel the camp closely associated with the leadership exploits of the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il as required by the new century,” “proposed erecting statues of the Generalissimos among children while undertaking the project in order to convey their noble love for future and posterity down through generations” and “specified instructions for remodeling the camp, going round the camp building, the International Friendship Children’s Hall and other places of the camp visited by Kim Jong Il on March 30, 1993,” according to KCNA.
Kim Jong Un toured one of the camp’s dormitories and “told officials to provide them with better furniture and TV sets.” He also “underscored the need to decorate walls of rooms with wallpapers beautiful in color and pattern to suit children’s minds and take thorough measures for heating and electricity so that they may not feel any inconvenience in their camping.” In a visit to a building lobby he “said that it is 20 years old but it still looks impeccable in architectural beauty as Kim Jong Il led the designing and construction of the camp with loving care.” He also toured a friendship exhibition and “stressed the need to set up a guide board written in foreign languages so that it may be convenient to children from various countries of the world” and visited a classroom for marine biology lessons and “gave an instruction to provide it with varieties of specimen so that campers may acquire not only knowledge about seas but that about animals and plants.”
According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said “that the camp should be operated in winter, too, in the future so that children may enjoy skiing at the Masik Pass Skiing Ground now under construction.” During a tour of the camp’s wading pool, he said “he would send modern wading equipment and told officials to spruce them up as well as they please.” On a tour of a playground, he “called for building a running track and covering the football field with artificial turf and providing new facilities for sports events such as volleyball and basketball.” Kim Jong Un also asked the camp change its ideological slogan to “We Are the Happiest in the World!” and “General Goes to Front While Children Go to Camp!” During a tour of the camp’s beach Kim Jong Un “underscored the need to build dressing rooms and diving towers, provide modern shower equipment and take necessary measures for preventing sand from piling up there.” According to KCNA he also “took measures for building a new ground for education at the camp and paving its sidewalks again, adding that he would send vehicles needed for its management and operation.”
Kim Jong Un’s next visit was to the Songdowon Youth Open-Air Theater. He first visited an exhibition on the theater’s history and “recalled the words of leader Kim Jong Il that he would watch a performance of the State Merited Chorus with citizens of Wonsan City there if the seating capacity of the theatre would be increased to 5 000, adding that he could not keep the promise.” He also “underscored the need to manage the theatre better and put its operation on a regular basis so as to eternally glorify their exploits.” According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said “as the room dedicated to the history of the theatre is the place for educating visitors, it should be arranged and furnished well so that many working people, youth and students may visit it.” Kim Jong Un toured the theater. He “told officials to readjust the chairs in such a way as to make them convenient to the audience” and whilst looking at the renovated stage said “the stage was roofless in the past but it was newly built well as instructed by Kim Jong Il. The stage looks nice after its remodeling.” He also learned about the performances offered at the theater and “underlined the need to ensure that songs and dances and exciting agitation are always presented there.” Kim Jong Un also said he “would spare time to watch an art performance at the theatre together with Wo’nsan citizens” and he “instructed the Kangwo’n Provincial Committee of the WPK and working people’s organizations in the province including the provincial committee of the youth league to pay deep attention to the management and operation of the open-air theatre so that it may creditably discharge its mission.”
Kim Jong Un called “for successfully remodeling the open-air theatre as a fashionable one which will well match its environment and remain impeccable in the distant future” and “indicated the tasks and ways to do so.” After touring the Songdowon Youth Open-Air Theater, Kim Jong Un posed for commemorative photographs with theater employees.
The last #1 visit to the Songdowon Youth Open Air Theater was in August 2009 when late leader Kim Jong Il dropped by for a tour of the theater, accompanied by a formidable retinue of close aides and powerholders. During that visit, KJI said the theater was “a historic place where an art performance celebrating the 20th anniversary of Korea’s liberation was given in August of 1965 in the presence of President Kim Il Sung” and he “recollected with deep emotion those unforgettable historic days.” KJI also remarked during his visit that “the slogan ‘We Serve the People!’ clearly reflects the unshakable will and determination of the WPK to devote everything to the happiness of the people, placing their interests above all.”
Kim Jong Un has spent the last week in and around Wo’nsan. It is likely he has been operating out of the Kim Family compound in northern Wo’nsan. The residential complex is located across a river from the Songdowon International Children’s Camp.