North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Yong Chol Visits Cuba

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WPK Vice Chairman and WPK Political Bureau Member Kim Yong Chol (left) meets with Cuban President Raúl Castro in Havana on May 24, 2016 (Photo: Granma/Revolution Studios).

Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Vice Chairman, WPK Political Bureau and and WPK Executive Policy Council Member Kim Yong Chol visited Cuba during May 23 to May 26.  Traveling to Cuba with Kim were Ri Yong Chol (deputy director of the WPK International Affairs Department) and Kim Jong Sik (deputy director of the WPK Munitions (machine-building) Industry Department).

On May 24, Kim met with Cuban President Raúl Castro.  Also in attendance from the DPRK was Ambassador to Cuba Pak Chang Yul.  Attending from Cuba were: José Ramón Machado Ventura (2nd Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee),  Salvador Valdés Mesa (member of the Communist Party of Cuba Political Bureau and a Cuban Vice President) and José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera (director of the Communist Party of Cuba’s International Relations Department).  According to Granma, the meeting took place in a “fraternal atmosphere” in which “both sides confirmed the interest to continue deepening the historical relations that bind the two parties, the two governments and the peoples.”

During his meeting with Raúl, Kim Yong Chol passed along a personal letter from Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) and asked Raúl to convey Jong Un’s greetings to Fidel Castro.  Kim Yong Chol congratulated Raúl on his re-election as the Communist Party of Cuba’s [CPC] 1st Secretary and the completion of the CPC’s 7th Party Congress.

Kim Yong Chol noted “with appreciation that the party and government of Cuba laid down a line suited to the actual conditions of the country while consistently adhering to the socialist principles and are achieving big successes in building socialism.”  Kim expressed thanks “to Cuba for sending full support and encouragement to the WPK and the Korean people, remaining true to the revolutionary sense of obligation” and also expressed “the invariable stand of the WPK to develop the comradely and fraternal relations with the CPC true to the behests of President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).”  Raúl Castro congratulated the WPK on the 7th Party Congress and said that he “wholeheartedly respects Kim Jong Un and wishes to meet him without fail in the future…Kim Jong Un is identical to Kim Il Sung, the founder of the WPK and his writing style clearly proves that he full of wisdom and enthusiasm.”  Raúl said that the “relations between the two countries are the comradely and fraternal ones proved by history…its is the firm stand of the party and government of Cuba to further develop the friendly and cooperative relations with the DPRK.”

Kim Yong Chol accompanied by CPC International Relations Department Director José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera pays tribute at the Mari monument in Havana on May 23, 2016 (Photo: KCNA).

Kim Yong Chol accompanied by CPC International Relations Department Director José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera pays tribute at the José Martí monument in Havana on May 23, 2016 (Photo: KCNA).

On May 23 (Monday), Kim Yong Chol and the WPK delegation paid a floral wreath at the José Martí monument in Havana’s Revolution Square.  Kim and the WPK delegation paid tribute to Martí then toured area around the monument and memorial.

Also on May 23, the WPK delegation met with senior CPC officials at the CPC Central Committee office building.  Leading the talks from the CPC was Salvador Valdés Mesa (a Cuban Vice President and a member of the CPC Political Bureau).  The WPK and CPC briefed one another about their parties’ recent activities.  Kim Yong Chol said that Kim Jong Un “is attaching great importance to the friendly relations with Cuba provided by President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il” and noted that Jong Un personally “sent the WPK delegation to Cuba this time.”  Kim Yong Chol told the CPC officials that Jong Un’s report at the 7th Party Congress “comprehensively reviewed the brilliant victory and successes registered by the WPK, army and people of the DPRK under the banner of Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism in the period under review and indicated the strategic line and tasks for accomplishing the cause of socialism.”  Kim stressed that that the 7th Party Congress elected Jong Un as WPK Chairman “reflecting the unanimous will and desire of all party members, service personnel and people.”  Kim Yong Chol congratulated the CPC on its own 7th Congress and he “highly appreciated the leadership role of the CPC which firmly adhering to the principle of socialism while directing efforts to the political and ideological education among the people including the new generation.”

The WPK delegation meets with CPC representatives at the CPC Central Committee office building in Havana on May 23, 2016 (Photo: KCNA).

The WPK delegation meets with CPC representatives at the CPC Central Committee office building in Havana on May 23, 2016 (Photo: KCNA).

Salvador Valdés Mesa said that CPC’s 7th Party Congress reviewed “the work on implementing the line and decision pursuant to the orientation of the fresh socio-economic policy and discussed the issue of formulating the theory of socialist construction in Cuba and completing it.”  The CPC’s congress “worked out the plan for developing the national economy till 2030 in the direction of keeping the socialist nature and stressed the need to ensure the monolithic leadership of the CPC and adhere to the idea of Fidel based on Marxism-Leninism.”  Salvador Valdés Mesa congratulated the WPK for its 7th Party congress as “the historic one which reviewed the great victory and success made in socialist construction over the past 35 years and the significant one which showed the picture of the DPRK advancing toward the world,”

The WPK and CPC also “exchanged views on the matter of further developing the friendly and cooperative relations between the two parties and two countries and other matters of mutual concern.”

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