Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on 15 February (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a photo-op with participants in a meeting of leading members of the Worker-Peasant Red Guard [WPRG]. Also in attendance at the photo-op were Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of People’s Security) and O Il Jong (Director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Military Department). Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to a sport bullet factory and shooting range.
Upon his arrival, according to KCNA, the WPRG members “enthusiastically welcomed him” and Kim Jong Un “waved back to their cheers.” He “warmly encouraged them who are devoting themselves to the sacred struggle for defending the country and building an economic power, holding a rifle in one hand and a hammer, sickle or a writing brush in the other.” He also said that “the meeting marked an important occasion in glorifying President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and leader Kim Jong Il’s (Kim Cho’ng-il) Chuch’e-based idea of building militia forces and the leadership exploits performed by them and in further strengthening the civilian defense forces.” Kim Jong Un “congratulated them upon making the meeting successful” and “expressed expectation and belief that the participants in the meeting would thoroughly implement the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and the WPK’s policy on putting all the people under arms and fortifying the whole country and thus bring about a fresh revolutionary turn in bolstering up the combat capabilities of the WPRG.”
The Worker-Peasant Red Guard, which marked its 55th anniversary on 14 January 2014, held its meeting of active leading personnel in Pyongyang on 11 February (Tuesday). Attending the meeting were Gen. Choe Pu Il and O Il Jong, along with “officials of the party and power organs in Pyongyang and local areas, those in civilian defence forces field and leading personnel of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards.” According to KCNA the WPRG meeting “reviewed the successes and experience gained in the efforts for thoroughly implementing the WPK’s policy of putting all the people under arms and turning the whole country into a fortress in line with the Songun idea of the peerlessly great men of Mt. Paektu and under their leadership. It also discussed tasks for effecting a fresh revolutionary turn in increasing the combat capacity of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards and ways for doing so.”
O Il Jong delivered a report, which was followed by speeches by WPRG members. According to KCNA, the report and speeches said that “the foundation of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards led to the establishment of the all-people and whole-of-nation defence system centering on the People’s Army, and provided a sure guarantee for honorably defending the sovereignty and dignity of the country and nation from the U.S. imperialists’ ceaseless aggression moves and for pushing forward the socialist construction.” The report and speeches noted that WPRG members “have greeted the heyday of their development under the leadership of Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un” and “vowed to establish strict monolithic leadership system of Kim Jong Un within the Worker-Peasant Red Guards and creditably fulfill their honorable mission as the revolutionary armed forces of the party and the supreme commander.” The report and speeches “pledged to thoroughly carry out the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and the party’s policy of putting all the people under arms and turning the whole country into a fortress, resolutely foiling the enemies’ aggression moves and defending their hometowns, villages, factories and working sites” and said that the WPRG would “defend the country and push forward the building of an economic power by holding a rifle in one hand and a hammer or a sickle or a writing brush in the other hand and thus fully display the might of the great army-people unity.”
The Workers-Peasant Red Guard is one of the DPRK’s civilian militias with an estimated 5.5 million members. The WPRG consists of men ages 17-45, unmarried women ages 17-30 and older men ages 45-60. WPRG units are organized in towns, factories, farms, industrial sites and schools and conduct training and mobilization activities for up to 60 days per year. WPRG training and mobilization activities are coordinated by regional military affairs offices subordinate to the KWP Military Affairs Department and, ultimately, the Party Central Military Commission. The WPRG also works with the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces and the KWP Civil Defense Department. During a war, command and control of the WPRG passes to the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and the KWP Civil Defense Department. WPRG members would be deployed for police and homeland security missions, logistical support and air defense, as well troop replacements for other reserve military training units [RMTUs].