North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJI Goes to Tianjin

Yonhap reports that Kim Jong Il stopped over in the port city of Tianjin on his way to Beijing:

Kim last visited Tianjin in 2004. In February this year, a senior North Korean ruling party official visited the city in what appeared to be an inspection before the 68-year-old leader tours the area.

Early Wednesday morning, parts of a highway leading to Tianjin were shut down temporarily.

Kim will likely stay in Tianjin for a short time, as the Chinese president is scheduled to begin a trip to Russia on Friday.

Chosun Ilbo reports on Kim Jong Il’s rather public presence in Dalian, despite the fact neither the PRC nor DPRK have confirmed his visit:

Experts had predicted Kim would stay would stay at a hotel in Bangchuidao, a favorite resort area among China’s top leaders, which is about 5 km from the downtown area.

Kim also publicly ventured out of the hotel three times, taking with him a convoy of about 40 vehicles for protocol and security reasons. During his earlier visits, he tried to avoid exposure as much as possible by reducing the number of vehicles.

His attendance at a welcome dinner hosted by the Chinese government at its guest house in Bangchuidao on Monday evening and his visit to the Dalian Economic and Technological Development Zone and port facilities the following day were in effect public events.

It was nothing like what anyone had expected. Experts had predicted Kim would stay in China for three quiet days in view of the difficulties he faces at home and abroad.

Given that he stayed in Dalian for two days before setting off for Beijing, it seems that his entire stay will be five or six days. There is now also speculation that Kim will watch a performance of the Chinese masterpiece “A Dream of Red Mansion” by the North’s Phibada Opera Troupe, which will start in Beijing on Thursday, alongside Chinese leaders.

Back in the DPRK, it is estimated that 50,000 special forces of the KPA were deployed to the country’s border with South Korea:

North Korea recently deployed about 50,000 special forces along its border with South Korea, Yonhap News reported on Wednesday, citing an unidentified source.

The frontline deployment is the latest of a series of reinforcements by the reclusive regime in recent.

The move comes at a time when Seoul suspects a North Korean submarine is possibly behind the March 26 sinking of a South Korean warship.

Seoul beefed up its monitoring of North Korean forces amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, though Pyongyang publicly denied its involvement in the naval disaster.

An affiliate of 38 North