North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJI Does Rason

This undated picture released by Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on December 17, 2009 shows Kim Jong Il (front L), top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), inspecting the Rason Taehung Trading Company in Rason city of North Hamgyong province. Kim called for increasing exports of the country, the official Rodong Sinmun daily said Thursday. (Xinhua/KCNA)

KCNA reports that Kim Jong-il conducted a guidance tour of Rason.  This is General-Secretary Kim’s first known guidance tour of the Rason area.  Rason is a portmanteau of North Hamgyong’s Rajin City and Sonbong County, which the central authorities declared, alternately, an “Economic and Trade Zone” (a/k/a FTZ).  Rason’s administrative status has been switched as a city under North Hamgyong Province to a provincial-level municipality (like Pyongyang or Sinuiju); the report’s usage (and that of other stories in the North Korean press) indicates Rason is now directly-administered.  With an invitation in the air and internal security apparatus officials jetting to Beijing, Kim Jong-il’s presence in Rason may indicate new business deals to be completed if he visits China.

General-Secretary Kim was joined by his new guidance tour quartet of KWP Secretary Kim Ki-nam, KWP Financial Planning Director Pak Nam-gi and power couple Kim Kyong-hui and Jang Song-thaek, as well as North Hamgyong KWP Provincial boss Hong Sok-hyong.  He was also escroted by Rason KWP Committee Chief Secretary Kim Hyo’n-chu and Rason Municipal People’s Committee Chair Kim Su-yo’l.  Rason was established as a special zone in December 1991, making this a kind of 18th anniversary trip.  A more auspicious 18th anniversary (commemorated on 24 December) this year is General-Secretary Kim’s appointment as KPA Supreme Commander.

For more background on Rason, Curtis Melvin offers some excellent background and story links (hey–it’s his bag) on Rason here, here, here, here, here, here and here.


This article was written on 17 Dec 2009, and is filled under Guidance Tours, Jang Song-thaek, Kim Jong-il, On the Spot Guidance.

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