North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Kim Jong Un Observes AA Rocket Exercises

Kim Jong Un watches live fire anti-air rocket drills (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un watches live fire anti-air rocket drills (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to the Pyongyang Catfish Farm

DPRK state media reported on November 3 (Tuesday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) observed anti-air rocket exercises.  Also in attendance were VMar Hwang Pyong So (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (Chief of the KPA General Staff), Gen. O Kum Chol (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff), Col. Gen. Yun Tong Hyon (Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces with a portfolio for defense industries), Ri Pyong Chol (Senior Deputy [first vice] Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Organization Guidance Department), Gen. Choe Yong Ho (commander of the KPA Air and Anti-Air Forces), Col. Gen. Son Chol Ju (Political Director of the KPA Air and Anti-Air Forces) along with senior command staff of the KPA Air and Anti-Air Forces and “officials in the field of national defense science.”

Kim Jong Un arrives at the exercise site.  Also in attendance is Gen. O Kum Chol (a)   (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Kim Jong Un arrives at the exercise site. Also in attendance is Gen. O Kum Chol (a) (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KPA Air and Anti-Air Forces Political Director Son Chol Ju (annotated) attends the anti-air exercises. Son has been promoted to Colonel General (three stars; sangjang) from Lieutenant General as indicated by the number of stars on his epaulettes (should boards) (Photo: Yonhap-KCNA).

KPA Air and Anti-Air Forces Political Director Son Chol Ju (annotated) attends the anti-air exercises. Son has been promoted to Colonel General (three stars; sangjang) from Lieutenant General as indicated by the number of stars on his epaulettes (should boards) (Photo: KCTV-Yonhap).

Anti-aircraft rockets used in a drill observed by Kim Jong Un (Photo: KCNA).

Anti-aircraft rockets used in a drill observed by Kim Jong Un (Photo: KCNA).

View of anti-air rocket pieces deployed for the exercise (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

View of anti-air rocket pieces deployed for the exercise (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Third generation official of the Second Academy of Natural Sciences attended the drill. This official will be one to watch going forward (Photo: KCNA).

Third generation official of the Second Academy of Natural Sciences attended the drill. This official will be one to watch going forward (Photo: KCNA).

Four anti-aircraft units deployed and, according to KCNA, the “drills was aimed at inspecting the technological readiness of the modernized anti-aircraft rockets and capability of the anti-aircraft units in the western sector of the front to fight an actual war and seeking ways of studying and developing varieties of new type anti-aircraft rockets to bring about a turn in the combat readiness in the anti-aircraft field.”  Jong Un was briefed on the drill at an observation spot and he “instructed the commanding officers of the Air and Anti-Air Force and officials in the field of the national defense science to effectively and meticulously organize the work for rounding off the combat readiness of the said rockets and steadily facilitate the projects for updating the rockets and ensuring their precision as required by the new century.”

Kim Jong Un is briefed about the anti-air rocket drills. Also in attendance are: Ri Pyong Chol (a); Col. Gen. Yun Tong Hyon (b); and, Gen. Choe Yong Ho (c] (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un is briefed about the anti-air rocket drills. Also in attendance are: Ri Pyong Chol (a); Col. Gen. Yun Tong Hyon (b); and, Gen. Choe Yong Ho (c] (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un speaks with senior command staff of the KPA Air and Anti-Air Force (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Kim Jong Un speaks with senior command staff of the KPA Air and Anti-Air Force (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KPA service members and officers observe the anti-air rocket exercise (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KPA service members and officers observe the anti-air rocket exercise (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Kim Jong Un also “underlined the need for the field of national defense science to more dynamically develop varieties of new type anti-aircraft rockets suited to the demand of a modern war so as to firmly defend the blue sky of the homeland from any air strike of enemies” and he issued “important tasks to be fulfilled to bring the national air defense to a new strategic level.”

Yonhap News Agency noted in its reporting about the drills the promotion of KPA Air and Anti-Air Force Political Director Son Chol Ju to Colonel General (sangjang).  Son is a long-time senior official of the KPA General Political Department (General Political Bureau) who served as a close political military aide to late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il from 2006 to 2009.

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