North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJI Inspects and Observes Joint Military Exercises

KCTV image of General-Secretary Kim watching the KPA's joint military maneuvers (Photo: KCTV via Yonhap News Agency)


Northeast Asia Matters has an excellent post on the KPA joint military drills over the weekend.


In what seems to be a first for his inspection and guidance activities, Kim Jong-il observed joint military training exercises by the Korean People’s Army.  Such training exercises are a cornerstone of DPRK music videos and propaganda films (and most likely filmed a decade ago), but this is the first occasion when General-Secretary Kim has mounted his bird’s eye view: “With the order for the start of the maneuvers, flying corps, warships and ground artillery pieces of various kinds showered merciless barrage at the ‘enemy group’ in close coordination, thus shattering the ‘enemy camp’ to pieces and turning it into a sea of flame.”

In the Yonhap report, Shin Hae-in notes that these exercises are reported following an inter-Korean missive from the National Defense Commission. The NDC warned the ROK: “They should clearly understand that whoever incites distrust and confrontation, instead of working for national reconciliation and cooperation, and seeks war and division, not peace and reunification, is fated to meet a merciless punishment by the strong revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu.”  This was a curious way to end a week that started with the DPRK calling for a permanent peace treaty with the ROK/US and continued on Thursday (14 January) with a DPRK proposal to resume Kumgang/Kaesong tours with the ROK.

The KCNA report on the maneuvers alluded to the NDC statement. The KPA were described as “replete with the fighting spirit of annihilating the enemy to defeat aggressors who dare provoke even an inch of the inviolable territory of the country at a single stroke and reliably defend the socialist country with matchless military capabilities they have built up.”

General-Secretary Kim was joined by:  NDC Vice Chairmen, VMAR Ri Yong-mu and Gen. O Kuk-ryol; GPB Senior Deputy Director Kim Jong-gak; Chief of the KPA General Staff, Gen. Ri Yong-ho; NDC Standing Bureau Director, Gen. Hyon Chol-hae; NDC Administration Director, Gen. Ri Myong-su; KWP Secretary of Propaganda Kim Ki-nam; KWP International Secretary Choe Thae-bok; KWP Administration Director Jang Song-thaek, and; Senior Deputy Director of the KWP Organization and Director Ri Je-gang.  Also watching the joint exercises with General-Secretary Kim were “commanding officers of KPA units and officials, workers and technicians in the field of national defence industry and leading officials of the society.”

The NDC Vice Chairmen who joined General-Secretary Kim seldom join his tour entourage.  VMAR Ri and Gen. O typically appear with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang at concerts, fireworks displays and national meetings, but they no longer travel with him for guidance or inspection.  This may well confirm the precarious health of VMAR Kim Yong-chun, NDC Vice Chairman and Minister of the People’s Armed Forces.  If earlier reports are accurate then it is highly likely Kim Jong-un “mounted the observation platform” with General-Secretary Kim.

This is General-Secretary Kim’s second appearance with bellicose undertones toward the ROK.  His first KPA inspection in 2010 (as it was in 2009) was to a sub-unit of the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guards Tank Division.  During this inspection, General-Secretary Kim watched tank drills intended to target South Korean cities.


This article was written on 18 Jan 2010, and is filled under Guidance Tours, Kim Jong-il, Korean People's Army (KPA), National Defense Commission (NDC), On the Spot Guidance.

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