Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
KJU’s last observed appearance was his attendance at the Merited State Choir’s 70th anniversary concert on February 22
DPRK state media reported on March 1 (Wednesday) that Kim Jong Un visited and inspected the headquarters element of Korean People’s Army [KPA] Large Combined Unit (taeyonhap pudae) Unit #966 (also known as the Pyongyang Defense Command [PDC]). Also in attendance were KPA General Political Department Director and State Affairs Commission VMar Hwang Pyong So (Hwang Pyo’ng-so) and KPA General Staff Operations Bureau Director and 1st Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff Colonel-General Ri Yong Gil (Ri Yo’ng-kil). Also in attendance were senior command staff of the Pyongyang Defense Command including Lieutenant-General Kim Myo’ng-nam.
PDC commanders greeted Jong Un, who then posed for commemorative group photos with service members of the officers of the unit. Jong Un walked around and viewed a monument marking instructions of late DPRK president and founder Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and an autograph slogan monument of the late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il). He also toured the PDC’s revolutionary museum and an exhibition hall about the PDC’s institutional history. Whilst looking through the historical exhibition “showing the devoted efforts made by Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) for rounding off the combat readiness of the unit and bolstering up its combat capability” Jong Un “looked back on the course of victory and glory covered by it.” As he examined photos of prior PDC command staff, he remarked that “there were many anti-Japanese revolutionary fighters among the commanding officers of the unit, indeed…this fact along clearly tells what great importance Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il attached to the unit.”
Jong Un was briefed on the “defense operation plan from the commander of the unit at the operational command room and went around the military study room, firing hall and various other places to learn in detail about the training and combat readiness.” He noted that the “unit has very important duty to perform” and he issued instructions “that would serve as guidelines for increasing the combat readiness and capability of the unit in every way.”
He toured the headquarters element’s mess, swimming and bathing facilities and other areas “to take warm care of the living of service personnel as their real father would do.” He also watched a performance by the unit’s art propaganda squad and expressed his “satisfaction with the successful performance staged by the members of the art squad with numbers sensitively reflecting party policies.” He issued instructions “which would serve as guidelines for their performing activities.
Jong Un expressed his “expectations and conviction that all service personnel of the unit would maintain full combat readiness and thus firmly defense the socialist country with arms.”
The headquarters element Jong Un inspected links directly with the Guard Command. Jong Un’s last observed public activity solely connected to the Pyongyang Defense Command was when he attended artillery exercises by the PDC in December 2011 during the same week as the demise of his father. The Guard Command and the PDC form two-thirds of the DPRK’s Praetorian Guard which protects the political leadership and prevents a military coup. The other security organization involved is the III Army Corps. Kim Jong Un’s last observed public activity sole connected to the III Army Corps was when he inspected its command element KPA Unit #526 on December 24, 2013. This was Jong Un’s first observed military field inspection following the dismissal and execution of his uncle Jang Song Thaek (Chang So’ng-t’aek).