North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Jong Un Observes and Guides Ballistic Missile Drill

Kim Jong Un smiles during a ballistic missile drill in a photo that appeared on cover of the July 20, 2016 edition of the WPK daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun.  The man standing on the right appears to be WPK Munitions Industry Department Deputy Director Kim Jong Sik (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un smiles during a ballistic missile drill in a photo that appeared on cover of the July 20, 2016 edition of the WPK daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun. The man standing on the right appears to be WPK Munitions Industry Department Deputy Director Kim Jong Sik (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was attendance at a concert of the art contest of KPA officers’ wives

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) observed and guided a ballistic missile drill from the suburbs of Sariwo’n, North Hwanghae Province on the morning (NKST) of July 19 (Tuesday).  Also in attendance were Ri Man Gon (Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Vice Chairman and Director of the WPK Munitions-Building Industry Department and Member of the State Affairs Commission), Ri Pyong Chol (WPK Central Committee Department Senior Deputy Director), Hong Sung Mu (deputy director of the WPK Munitions Industry Department), Kim Jong Sik (deputy director of the WPK Munitions Industry Department with a portfolio), senior cadres and functionaries of the WPK Central Committee and scientists and technicians involved in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.  As he did in early March 2016, Jong Un appears to have observed and commanded a sea point of debarkation [SPOD] ballistic missile test simulating a nuclear airburst.

Kim Jong Un and senior WPK and KPA officials watch a ballistic missile drill.  In this photo are KPA Strategic Force Commander General Kim Rak Gyom (1), WPK Munitions Industry Department Deputy Director Hong Sung Mu, WPK Munitions Industry Department Deputy Director Kim Jong Sik (3) and WPK Central Committee Senior Deputy Director Ri Pyong Chol (4) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un and senior WPK and KPA officials watch a ballistic missile drill. In this photo are KPA Strategic Force Commander General Kim Rak Gyom (1), WPK Munitions Industry Department Deputy Director Hong Sung Mu, WPK Munitions Industry Department Deputy Director Kim Jong Sik (3) and WPK Central Committee Senior Deputy Director Ri Pyong Chol (4) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un watches a ballistic missile launch in a photo which appeared on the bottom right of the front page of the July 20, 2016 edition of the WPK daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un watches a ballistic missile launch in a photo which appeared on the bottom right of the front page of the July 20, 2016 edition of the WPK daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

A photo of Kim Jong Un and senior personnel watching the missile drill and photos of the missile drill that appeared in the bottom left of the front page of the July 20, 2016 edition of the WPK daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun (Photos: Rodong Sinmun/KCNA).

A photo of Kim Jong Un and senior personnel watching the missile drill and photos of the missile drill that appeared in the bottom left of the front page of the July 20, 2016 edition of the WPK daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun (Photos: Rodong Sinmun/KCNA).

Prior to the drill, General Kim Rak Gyom commander of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] Strategic Force [KPASF] and senior KPASF command staff briefed Jong Un on the missile systems involved and preparations for the test.  After his brief, Jong Un “ordered to kick off the drill.”  According to DPRK state media the “ballistic rocket drill was conducted by limiting the firing range under the simulated conditions of making preemptive strikes at ports and airfields in the operational theater in south Korea where the US imperialists’ nuclear war hardware is to be hurled” and the drill “once again examined the operational features of the detonating devices of nuclear warheads mounted on the ballistic rockets at a designated altitude over the target area.”

Photos of a ballistic missile drill which appeared in bottom center of the July 20, 2016 edition of the WPK daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun (Photos: Rodong Sinmun/KCNA).

Photos of a ballistic missile drill which appeared in bottom center of the July 20, 2016 edition of the WPK daily newspaper Rodong Sinmun (Photos: Rodong Sinmun/KCNA).

Kim Jong Un expressed “great satisfaction over the successful drill, highly praising the artilleryman for keeping themselves fully ready to carry out any order issued all of a sudden and for being always exact and elaborate both in maneuverability and striking force.”  Kim Jong Un tasked “the leading officials of the WPK Central Committee, scientists and technicians in the field of research into nuclear weapons and commanding officers of the KPA Strategic force accompanying him” to “fully” ensure “speed and security of the operation of the country’s nuclear attack system, rounding off the Chuch’e-based firepower striking methods and the development of diverse-type ballistic rockets.”

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