Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on 16 November (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the construction of a football (soccer) training ground and toured a Korean People’s Army [KPA] food factory. Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his attendance at a photo-op with participants in a national meeting of scientists and technicians.
Kim Jong Un’s first visit was to the construction of a practice field and training center for the football (soccer) team of the Mangyangbong Sports Team. Also in attendance were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Han Kwang Sang (Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Finance and Accounting Department), Hwang Pyong So (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department) and Ma Won Chun (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department). According to KCNA Kim Jong Un said that “he made sure that the football training ground of the sports team was covered with artificial turf as a model for providing well various football stadiums and playgrounds across the country with sports facilities as required by an international standard” and “that he visited it to learn about how the work is being done.” He was “very pleased with it as its quality is as good as natural turf” and he “noted that it is good to cover the fields of the football stadiums with quality artificial turf so that footballers may have sufficient trainings and matches regardless of seasons. When fields of football stadiums and playgrounds are covered with artificial turf, players and school youth and children will be able to have good physical exercises and landscape will change.” Kim Jong Un also “underscored the need to build a base for massively producing quality artificial turf in order to spruce up the football stadiums and playgrounds across the country like the football training ground of the above-said sports team, specifying tasks and ways to do so.”
Kim Jong Un also visited KPA Foodstuffs Factory #354 which manufactures bread and candy. Attending the visit were VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Col. Gen. So Hong Chan (1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces) and Hwang Pyong So. According to KCNA, “officials of the factory told Kim Jong Un in an excited tone that its employees were speeding up production after voluntarily coming out to the factory at the thought that he would surely visit their work site on the Day of Mothers” and Kim “with a broad smile on his face extended warm congratulations to the working women of the factory on the day.” Kim Jong Un toured the factory’s historical exhibition and said that “the factory developed into a food processing base specializing in the production of high-quality confectionary and bread for service personnel under the meticulous guidance and care of President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).” He toured the factory’s production facilities and house of culture. He “praised the factory for putting all production processes including command, monitoring and control on the basis of automation by intensifying the drive for pushing back the frontiers of the latest science and technology so as to hit its high goals for its updating true to the intention of the party.” He also sampled some of the factory’s products. He said that the factory “is raising work efficiency and improving quality of products while using not big work force and cutting down production cost as less as possible” and “stressed this is ascribable to the modernization of its production processes as desired by the party.”
Kim Jong Un also said “he was satisfied to visit the factory” and he “appreciated it as an icon factory and a model foodstuff factory to be proud of.” He noted “that women workers are engaged in pleasant labor at the factory where cultured practice is established in production and life” and reiterated he thought the factory “very excellent.” According to KCNA, he “extended thanks to all workers of the factory on behalf of the Supreme Commander of the KPA for providing tasty and nutritious foodstuffs to service personnel after updating it and boosting production as intended by the party” and expressed “expectation and belief that the workers of the factory would as ever fulfill their honorable duties so that the service personnel might call them mothers, he had a photo session with them.”
KCNA’s report on the food factory visit publicized the appointment of Col. Gen. So Hong Chan to 1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces. Col. Gen. So has made three prior reported public appearances with Kim Jong Un during 2013. Col. Gen. So replaces Col. Gen. Jon Chang Bok approximately six months after Jon’s appointment. Jon Chang Bok also served as Director of the KPA General Logistics Department (subordinate to the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces) which raises the possibility Col. Gen. So has also been appointed to this position. The replacement of Jon Chang Bok as 1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces) marks the eighth change to the KPA high command since former Chief of the KPA General Staff Ri Yong Ho was removed from office in July 2012.