Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on December 1 (Tuesday) that Kim Jong Un visited the Mangyo’ngdae Schoolchildren’s Palace in Pyongyang, which has recently undergone a renovation. Attending Jong Un’s visit were Kim Yang Gon (Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Secretary and Director of the United Front), Ri Il Hwan (Director of the WPK Workers’ Organizations Department), Jo Yong Won (deputy director of the WPK Organization Guidance Department) and Ma Won Chun (Director of the National Defense Commission [NDC] Design Department).
Upon arriving at the schoolchildren’s palace, Kim Jong Un remarked that “the palace built to depict the care of the WPK under which the children live looked magnificent and very nice as its exterior was decorated with granite and high-quality building materials. The palace is the edifice which no other country can build or imitate and a monumental one demonstrating the advantageous socialist system in our country.” He examined a Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) autograph slogan monument in the building’s lobby and, according to KCNA, he said, “one can keenly realize how deeply the President loved the children” because the “meaningful proposition reflecting the President’s noble outlook on the rising generation, future and revolution was prominently displayed with due respect.”
Jong Un toured the refurbished room for the schoolchildren’s palace’s revolutionary history and remarked that “the relics and mementoes that bear witness to the noble outlook of the President and leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) on the younger generation and future are the precious treasures which should be handed down to posterity” and he underscored the “need to effectively conduct the education of the officials, teachers, school youths and children through the immortal leadership exploits of the great leaders.” He also said that Mangyo’ngdae Schoolchildren’s Palace was “built under the loving care of the great leaders” and had been “remodeled as required by the new century.” Jong Un said that he felt “his heart ache at the thought that how happy children would have been, if the had given the New Year’s Eve performance in the presence of the great leaders.”
Kim Jong Un toured the schoolchildren’s palace and was briefed about the renovation work, as well as how the schoolchildren’s palace would operate after it is reopened. He noted that “the science hall looked peculiar as it has large relief Korean map and a model of a rocket for carrying satellite U’nha-3” and then “praised the builders for successfully decorating the interior of the palace in such a way as to help school youth and children properly know about nature and geology of their country and nurture ambitious dreams and ideals to excel the work standard.”
According to KCNA, Jong Un said that the “palace is the comprehensive extracurricular education center for school youth and children of the country” and he issued instructions for managing the schoolchildren’s palace’s operations and “took benevolent measures.” Jong Un noted that “the remodeling of the palace was a very vast and difficult project, but the party spared nothing for it as it was an important one for preserving the bright smile and happiness of the children and their cheerful laughter meant ‘hurrah’ for the final victory.” Kim Jong Un ended his visit by proposing and giving instructions on a formal ceremony to open the renovated Mangyo’ngdae Schoolchildren’s Palace.
As noted above, Jong Un’s last public appearance was an inspection of the Wo’nsan Shoe Factory. Given the reported failure of a submarine launched ballistic missile [SLBM] test off the DPRK’s east coast there is a very good chance, and ROK government officials are saying, Kim Jong Un’s last public appearance was at the missile test. Jong Un has previously conducted on-site visits of economic sites then observed or commanded missile tests or live fire drills when’s traveled to Wo’nsan, where the Anbyo’n proving ground is located. Anbyo’n usually provides the personnel involved in the DPRK’s missile tests conducted in the East Sea (Sea of Japan). In June 2014 he visited Kalma Foodstuffs Factory, then the next day commanded a series of missile tests by the KPA Strategic Force Command. According to the latest reporting from ROK, the DPRK has resolved to conduct additional SBLM tests so perhaps Kim Jong Un will attend one of those.
Kim Jong Un’s visit to the Mangyo’ngdae Schoolchildren’s Palace also confirms that Choe Ryong Hae has indeed been sidelined, as Choe was last present during Jong Un’s 2014 visit at which the renovation of the schoolchildren’s palace was initiated. Choe has failed to appear at several workers’ and social organizations’ events during the last two weeks. Choe’s ceremonial role at Workers’ Organizations’ events has been assumed by central party secretaries Kim Ki Nam and O Su Yong.