North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJI Visits KPA Unit Involved in Hwang Plot

Kim So-hyun reports in the Korea Herald that Kim Jong Il inspected the KPA unit that directed the failed assassination plot on NK defector Hwang Jang Yop and is widely believed in South Korea to have coordinated the attack on the Cheonan.  What is more he was escorted by Lieutenant General Kim Yong Chol, director of the so-called Reconnaissance Department.  Lt. Gen. Kim has been identified as having ordered the plot against HJY, and sources in the ROK have singled him out possibly commanding an attack on the Cheonan.

It was Kim Jong-il’s first reported visit to the Reconnaissance Bureau, drawing attention to why he chose to visit the bureau on the founding day of the KPA.  Kim had only watched an arts performance by the former reconnaissance department in 2005.

The Reconnaissance Bureau is known for allegedly having ordered the assassination of former Workers’ Party secretary Hwang Jang-yop who defected to South Korea in 1997.

The two North Koreans who recently confessed to their assassination mission during questioning by the South Korean National Intelligence Service said they received the order from Kim Young-chol, chief of the Reconnaissance Bureau.

Kim Young-chol is an exemplary hardliner within the North Korean military who said the Northern Limit Line was “drawn by a thief” at the general-level talks between the Koreas in 2006 and 2007. He also led the North’s decision to restrict South Koreans’ border crossing in December 2008.

Amid increasing suspicions over North Korean involvement in the Cheonan’s sinking, a South Korean online outlet reported that a Workers’ Party staff member claimed that the KPA recently took “revenge” on South Korea.

Citing a source from North Hamgyeong Province, the Daily N.K. said that “revenge” was mentioned during a regular “ideology education” session at a local factory.

Here is an excerpt from the KCNA report on KJI’s visit, where “he congratulated servicepersons there on the occasion of the 78th birthday of the KPA”:

Learning about the feats of many heroes produced by the unit one by one, he said that these fighters were, indeed, staunch revolutionaries and true roots of the WPK as they unhesitatingly dedicated their youth and lives to the country and the people. He stressed the need for all the servicepersons to earnestly learn from the noble revolutionary spirit of the forerunners and become heroes of the new century to be remembered by the country and the people.

After looking round combat and technical equipment, he dropped in at the operation command room and military study rooms of the unit to learn about its training. He put forward important tasks which would serve as guidelines for increasing the combat capability of the unit in every way.

Then he made the rounds of the servicepersons’ hall and other entertainment and educational facilities to acquaint himself in detail with the political work conducted among them.

He was pleased to learn that the unit has conducted the political work in a unique and profound manner after successfully building facilities for ideological and cultural education suited to the characteristic features of the servicepersons and all of them fully enjoy a cultural and emotional life. He called for always paying primary attention to the ideological work.

The Daily NK report to which the Korea Herald alluded is the centerpiece of JoongAng‘s story on KJI’s visit:

In North Korea, Workers’ Party officials visit company offices or factories every Saturday to hold seminars on party policy or current affairs.

The Daily NK reported that the party official didn’t specifically mention the Cheonan but members of the audience believed the rumor of a North Korean attack had been confirmed.

Another source told The Daily NK that “most” North Koreans thought their country’s navy sank the Cheonan and that their government wasn’t trying to mute rumors of its involvement.

North Korea has denied responsibility for the sinking. But its leader, Kim Jong-il, recently visited the country’s reconnaissance bureau, which has been suspected as the agency behind the attack.

Meanwhile Chosun Ilbo reports on US reactions to the unfolding Cheonan investigation:

The U.S. believes there is high chance that South Korean naval corvette Cheonan was sunk in a North Korean attack, CNN reported Monday. “A North Korean torpedo attack was the most likely cause for the sinking of a South Korean warship last month,” it said citing a U.S. military official. “The United States believes the ship was sunk by the blast of an underwater explosion, but that the explosive device itself did not come in contact with the hull of the South Korean ship,” he said.

This is in line with what the South Korean military has concluded.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, at a press conference after the 2010 International Media Conference in Hong Kong on Monday said he has been in consultation with the Chinese government about the investigation of the shipwreck, and Beijing has “deep concerns” about the matter. He added Beijing promised to “closely observe” investigations and that the U.S. asked China to take a responsible role in the matter.

The U.S. believes there is high chance that South Korean naval corvette Cheonan was sunk in a North Korean attack, CNN reported Monday. “A North Korean torpedo attack was the most likely cause for the sinking of a South Korean warship last month,” it said citing a U.S. military official. “The United States believes the ship was sunk by the blast of an underwater explosion, but that the explosive device itself did not come in contact with the hull of the South Korean ship,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Kim Yong Chol (1st from L) escorts KJI on an inspection of KPA Unit 586 (Photo: KCNA)

3 Comments

  1. […] Kim So-hyun reports in the Korea Herald that Kim Jong Il inspected the KPA unit that directed the failed assassination plot on NK defector Hwang Jang Yop and is widely believed in South Korea to have coordinated the attack on the Cheonan.  What is more he was escorted by Lieutenant General Kim Yong Chol, director of the so-called Reconnaissance Department (or the NDC Policy Department).  Lt. Gen. Kim has been identified as having ordered the plot against HJY, and sources in the ROK have singled him out possibly commanding an attack on the Cheonan.  (NK Leadership Watch) http://nkleadershipwatch.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/kji-visits-kpa-unit-involved-in-hwang-plot/ […]

  2. […] Kim Jong-il recently visited the KPA Reconnaissance Bureau.  The agency is recently accused of ordering the assassination of Hwang Jang-yop.  NK Leadership Watch has full video  of the visit, but here are some photos: […]

  3. […] Finally — and perhaps most interestingly — we get an article about South Korea’s plan, developed in 1983, to assassinate Kim Il Song.  In terms of the timing, it seems clear that this article seeks to give China a bit of breathing room in defense against accusations that the PRC was complicit with the recent North Korean team of agents sent to South Korea to kill Hwang Jong Yop.  And it isn’t Chinese news, don’t miss NK Leadership Watch’s update: Kim Jong Il endorses the military unit from which the would-be-a…. […]

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