Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on 9 August (Friday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visit the ongoing construction of the Mirim Riding Club and the Munsu Wading Pool in Pyongyang. He was accompanied by Pak Tae Song (Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Deputy Department Director), Hwang Pyong So (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Ma Won Chun (KWP Deputy Department Director) and Lt. General Kim Su Gil. Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to the construction of apartments designated for scientists.
After a briefing on the equestrian club’s construction, according to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “was very satisfied to learn that the soldier-builders have done a lot of work in a brief span of time by overcoming bottlenecks and difficulties in the revolutionary soldier spirit” and he said “the appearance of the modern Mirim Riding Club would help working people and school youth and children enjoy horse riding there to have sound mentality and strong physical bodies for labor and national defense.” He issued instructions on the clubs construction and said “stressed the need to build well a room for preserving historic relics to convey the exploits performed by leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) in guiding the club and construct indoor riding exercise hall, riding school, service building and other structures to be impeccable even in the distant future.” He instructed that a rest area be constructed where people could relax after riding horses, along with a veterinary hospital and a research institute to increase the number of the club’s horses. According to KCNA he said that “it is also necessary to take steps for successfully operating the club in a far-sighted manner while accelerating the construction of the club” and that “it is important to properly choose a unit for operating the club, organize a horse riders association and scrupulously do a work for providing things such as vehicles, lawn mowers and sprinkler trucks necessary for the management and operation of the club.” Kim Jong also “expressed expectation and conviction that the soldier-builders and officials concerned would successfully complete the construction of the club till the 68th anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea.”
Kim Jong Un also visited the ongoing construction of the Munsu Wading Pool. After his arrival, he received a briefing on the progress of the wading pool’s construction. He toured the lobby “with keen interest” and instructed that a a statue of his father, late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, be erected on the premises. According to KCNA he said “the completion of the wading pool would mean carrying out the behest of Kim Jong Il who worked heart and soul to provide a comprehensive wading pool to the people” and added “how nice it would be if it were built in the lifetime of Kim Jong Il.” Kim Jong Un was also “satisfied to learn that the roof of the wading pool is made with ball truss to suit the nature of the multi-service indoor wading pool and covered with glass to admit sunrays.” He toured the indoor waiting pool where he also saw water tanks and the construction of outdoor water amusement facilities. He said that the “Munsu Wading Pool will operate as a multi-service sports centre when the rooftop of the indoor wading pool will have volleyball, badminton and basketball courts, and skate park, sand volleyball court and other sports and amusement facilities will appear around the outdoor wading pool” and that “Munsu Wading Pool will be crowded with people and school youth and children in the future. . . everyone feels pleasant when thinking of this.” Kim Jong Un “praised the builders for taking measures for using terrestrial heat so as to consume electricity as less as possible” and “underlined the need to plant trees of good species in the area of the outdoor wading pool to suite environment, and create larger area of turf.” According to KCNA Kim Jong Un said that “it is the determination and will of the Workers’ Party of Korea to successfully complete the construction of the Munsu Wading Pool as a world class one and provide the people with it till the anniversary of the Party founding” and he “expressed expectation and conviction that the soldier-builders would unconditionally finish the construction of the Munsu Wading Pool as scheduled and materialize the plan of the WPK in revolutionary practice.”
This was Kim Jong Un’s third reported visit to the Mirim Riding Club since November 2012. The riding club was previously the headquarters and training ground of the equestrian company of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Unit #534. It was the setting for one of the first observed appearance of late leader Kim Jong Il, after he successfully recuperated from a series of strokes in 2008. During his visit in November 2012, according to state media, Kim Jong Un said “that he had a plan to turn the equestrian training ground — which is currently used by the people’s army — into an equestrian ground where working people, youths, and children can build up their physical strength, and he thus tasked a relevant sector with mapping out a blueprint for the plan and he had now come to the ground to acquaint himself firsthand with the state of the equestrian training ground” and that the “respected and beloved marshal said that the equestrian club should be remodeled in a modern way at an early date to present it to the people.” In calling for the construction of the Mirim Riding Club, Kim Jong Un remarked “that more than anything else a good design is necessary, if Mirim Equestrian Club is to be excellently built in line with the demands of the new century” and “said that designs should be prepared by many designing units, and then the best design should be selected among all the designs prepared.”
When Kim Jong Un made his second visit to the Mirim Riding Club’s construction in early May 2013, he expressed his displeasure with construction personnel from the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces for not following instructions on the club’s design. According to KCNA, “recalling that he sent information about riding schools in different countries and a lot of reference books to build the club on a world level, he criticized the officials for failing neither to use them as reference nor study them and building it in a manner completely different from the design he had instructed to send to a designing organ of the KPA among those reported to him by various designing institutions.” This was the second of three incidents where Kim Jong Un has publicly upbraided party and army officials.** During his most recent visit Kim Jong Un was described as “very satisfied ” that “soldier-builders have done a lot of work in a brief span of time by overcoming bottlenecks and difficulties.”
This was Kim Jong Un’s second reported visit to the construction of the Munsu Wading Pool, although the project has not wanted for attention by top DPRK officials with two visits each by DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju and KPA General Political Department Director VMar Choe Ryong Hae. The wading pool, which replaces one that existed until the early 2000s, has been under construction since February 2013.
**The other occasions on which Kim Jong Un expressed his displeasure with subordinate officials was during a May 2012 visit to Mangyo’ngdae Fun Fair and a June 2013 visit to the 18 January General Machine Plant.