North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJU: 50-odd Days Later

A commemorative photograph session attended by Kim Jong Il and hereditary successor Kim Jong Un. KCNA reported KJI's attendance of the photo session on 20 November 2010 but did not state when the session occurred (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un at KJI's visit to the casket bier of Jo Myong Rok around 8 November 2010 (Photo: KCTV/KCNA)

The DPRK press reported on 20 November (Saturday) that Kim Jong Il and hereditary successor, Kim Jong Un, attended a commemorative photo session with members of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces.  Chosun Ilbo wrote Tuesday (16 November) marked the 50th day since the publicizing of Kim Jong Un’s identity and leadership positions on 28 September.  Although he was a member of KJI’s entourage in 2009, Kim Jong Un has been reported as officially attending military inspections (including drills), guidance tours and other events with KJI and other members of the central leadership.

“It may still be a bit early, but judging from the path Kim Jong-un has taken so far along with officials who have become his close aides, it’s possible to gauge where North Korea is headed under his rule,” said a South Korean government official.

The Unification Ministry on Sunday said Kim Jong-un appeared at 21 official events since his formal political debut. He most frequently appeared at party occasions with seven in September and October because the Workers’ Party convention that elevated him to his new post and the 65th party anniversary took place then. Next were events related to China (five), the military (four), culture (four) and one other.

Since a meeting with Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Chinese Politburo who visited Pyongyang to attend the Workers Party anniversary, Kim junior also greeted a high-ranking military delegation from Beijing who marked the 60th anniversary of the Chinese army’s entry into the Korean War. On Oct. 26, Kim Jong-il, Jong-un and an entourage of North Korea’s top 20 military and political officials attended a memorial ceremony at the tombs of the Chinese People’s Volunteers martyrs in Hoechang, South Pyongan Province, where thousands of Chinese soldiers including chairman Mao Zedong’s eldest son Mao Anying are buried.

“This is an unprecedented occurrence and appears aimed at demonstrating North Korea’s close ties to China,” said a South Korean government official.

Kim Jong-un’s next priority has been visits to military installations. The first event he chose to attend after his promotion was a training drill at a missile base on Oct. 5 where North Korea test-fired six Rodong and Scud missiles in 2006. On Oct. 25, he visited the State Security Department and on Nov. 3 a construction site in Jagang Province where troops in charge of the Kim family’s security are deployed to build the Huichon Power Plant.

Jong Un visits the CPV Martyrs Cemetery in Hoechang County, South Pyongan in October 2010 (Photo: KCNA)

Jong Un applauding at a commemorative photograph session held during Kim Jong Il's visit to the Huichon Power Station. Seen in attendance with KJU are (L) Hong Sok Hyong (CC KWP Secretary and Director of the CC KWP Planning and Finance Department) and (R) Gen. Hyon Chol Hae (Director, NDC Standing Bureau) (Photo: KCNA)

Christine Kim wrote in JoongAng Ilbo (and cited RFA) that Kim Jong Un toured military industry facilities.  Jong Un is reportedly promoting the use of CNC technology in the DPRK’s weapons business.  CNC appeared in DPRK media as early as 2001, and utilized in the country’s economic complexes in 2000.  It has also been a theme in promoting the KJU hereditary succession.    Jong Un’s alleged business activities don’t stop at munitions factories in Chongjin.  He has reportedly carved his own piece of the Third Floor’s trading corporations, which may or may not be tied to weapons sales abroad.

Kim Jong-un wants all factories to implement computer numerical control (CNC), which enables the automation of machines with computer-assisted technology. CNC has been connected to the young leader-to-be since last year when he was tapped for succession. South Korean government officials have said that the technical term is being used in connection with Kim Jong-un because the technology is new in North Korea – suggesting the rise of a young new leader intent on modernizing military production.

“With news that Kim Jong-un will visit a munitions factory in Chongjin, North Hamgyong, the factory has been busy with movement. He is coming to inspect the CNC of the factory’s production line,” said a well-informed source cited by RFA. The factory, which is in an area of northeastern North Korea located about 50 miles from the Chinese border, is known to produce shells for multiple-launch artillery pieces. It was also mentioned in a recent broadcast by the state’s official television network for its implementation of CNC technology along with other machinery factories, “standing at the cutting-edge of machinery development,” KCTV said.

According to the source, Kim Jong-un is visiting production lines in North Hamgyong and Jagang, and munitions factories were the first to receive orders to implement CNC to “set an example” for the entire country.

The new technology is utilized to develop more weapons, which could easily attack Seoul and the metropolitan area and could put more pressure on the South Korean government.

JoongAng also reported that portraits of Kim Jong Un had been prepared for distribution.  Daily NK’s own informal survey said:

Even though a number of South Korean and international media outlets have reported the distribution of portraits of Kim Jong Eun to Party and security service cadres, the majority of cadres and average citizens have heard nothing of it, according to The Daily NK’s sources.

On the 12th, Radio Free Asia reported that Kim Jong Eun’s portraits have been given to cadres, while on the 18th Asahi Shimbun reported, “Kim Jong Eun’s color portraits have been delivered to regime officials and they are going to distribute them to each household.”

However, cadres from Yangkang and North Hamkyung provinces who spoke to The Daily NK say that they have not received any information on portraits. One source explained, “When portraits are sent to provinces, they go to the provincial National Security Agency and prosecutors’ office first of all. However, the result of my checking these places is that there is no sign that portraits have been handed down yet.”

That being said, the source conceded, “Since the greatness of the Youth Captain is constantly boasted of, and his appearance has also appeared on television, his portrait will probably be released soon,” and as such, “people will accept it as an inevitability.”

Another source from Chongjin, North Hamkyung Province agreed, saying, “I haven’t seen a portrait of the Youth Captain yet. If a portrait is distributed, security agencies get it first, but there is no portrait yet.”

A defector in his 50s from Pyongyang added, though, “I suspect that his portrait will be spread soon, because Kim Jong Eun idolization has been ongoing for the last couple of years and his appearance has even been revealed.”

Furthermore, “There is no chance of delivering the portrait secretly because people are competitive and are apt to start hanging the portraits to keep up with their neighbors” in order to display a sense of loyalty.

Jong Un greeting a member of Jo Myong Rok's family November 2010 (Photo: KCTV/KCNA)

An affiliate of 38 North