Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
KJU’s last observed appearance was his visit to the renovated Korean Revolution Museum
DPRK state media reported April 1 (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) observed and guided the Korean People’s Army [KPA] 2017 Tank Competition. The competition gathered the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su Guards’ 105th Tank Division (105th Armored Division) along with tank crews from KPA Large Combined Units (taeyonhap pudae; combined forces’ units) #966 (Pyongyang Defense Command), #313 #567, #233, #604, #593, #287, #337, #324, #526, #549, #264, #757 and #671. Also in attendance were KPA General Political Department Director and State Affairs Commission Vice Chairman VMar Hwang Pyong So (Hwang Pyo’ng-o), Chief of the KPA General Staff VMar Ri Myong Su (Ri Myo’ng-su), KPA General Staff Operations Bureau Direct and 1st Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff Colonel-General Ri Yong Gil (Ri Yo’ng-kil) and Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces (for defense industries and procurement) Colonel-General Yun Tong Hyon (Yun Tong-hyo’n).
After arriving at an observation post, Kim Jong Un was briefed about the competition’s plans and ordered it to begin. According to state media reporting the contest was organized “in such a way that tanks start in the order set by lot and their crews fire at moving and fixed targets while overcoming eight obstacles lying in the 3.6 km [2.2 miles] course and the standing is decided by points gained in driving and target hitting.”
Whilst watching the tank competition, Jong Un remarked the “performance of tanks was excellent. It was marvelous to see the tanks crossing even a steep hill at the maximum speed. These tanks represent a symbol of the KPA and they are like iron fists.” The 105th Tank Division won the competition. Kim Jong Un said that the “competition clearly showed that the KPA tank crews are fully prepared to be stalwart fighters capable of independently and skillfully carrying out any combat tasks in the operational areas for liberating the southern part of the country.”
Jong Un issued instructions to the tank crews “to round off their combat preparations” and he met and talked with the tank crews who participated in the competition. Prior to a commemorative photo-op, Jong Un appreciated “the winner of the competition as the example for the whole army in the first round of the combat and political drills in the new year” and expressed his “belief that all the tank crews would rush, sweeping away everything in their way and destroy the enemy positions with their tanks once a war breaks out.”