North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJI’s 148 Guidance Tours (so far) in 2010

This photo released by the official KCNA news agency on Dec. 6, 2010, shows Kim Jong Il, top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), inspects the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex, which established an iron making method without use of cokes and a new iron production system with lignite. (Xinhua/KNCA)

According to the ROK Unification Ministry, Kim Chong-il has made 148 visits in 2010. 58 of those tours were to economic locales in the DPRK.  KCI has been reported by the DPRK media as having conducted 33 inspections of KPA or military-related site.  The most frequent members of his travel party in 2010 have been his sister, Kim Kyong-hui (who is also a Political Bureau members, CC KWP Department Director and holds the rank of KPA General) and her husband Chang Song-taek.  Youngest son and presumed hereditary successor, Kim Chong-un (who is co-Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission and holds the title of KPA General) officially attended 28 Kim Jong Il visits in 2010.

Yonhap reports:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il paid more visits to factories and other economy-related sites than to military units and other locations this year in a sign that the autocratic leader is trying to improve internal unity, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday.

Kim has made a total of 148 “field guidance” trips across the country this year, with 58 of them, or 40 percent, made to economic sites and 33 visits to military units, ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung told reporters.

In particular, Kim made 16 public appearances in November, and only one of them was a visit to the military while seven were to economic sites, a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

“This is seen as an attempt to promote internal unity or to demonstrate he is in charge,” the official said.

Kim’s sister, Kim Kyong-hui, and his brother-in-law, Jang Song-thaek, accompanied Kim on most of the field trips in November, the official said.

Since the North’s deadly shelling of South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23, Kim has made a dozen public appearances, with seven of them to economic sites.

KCI has been reported making visits and attending concerts for a seven-day week since he was reported to have visited the Yongsong Machine Complex in South Hamgyong.  Kim Chong-il was reported on 1 December touring light industrial factories in Hamhung as well as visiting the Hamhung University of Hydraulic Engineering.  On 2 December he was reported visiting various magnesia-related factories in Tanchon, as well as visiting a port in that city currently under construction.  On 3 December KCI visited the Musan Mining Complex and a nearby foodstuff factory  [n.b. readers of Nothing to Envy may recall that Oak-hee’s abusive husband was sent to work at the Musan complex after fighting with a KPA band colleague].

On 4 December Kim Chong-il and Kim Kyong-hui were reported as having visited their mother’s hometown of Hoeryong, which included a visit to the Kim Chong-suk memorial.  He also visited a foodstuff factory and the city’s Taesong Tobacco Factory.  The latter locale has alleged ties to the 3rd Floor and may be one facility where the country manufactures counterfeit cigarettes for overseas sales.  KCI visited the factory in 2009 and puffed one of the domestic brand cigarettes.  On 5 December he was reported attending  a concert given by the North Hamgyong Provincial Art Troupe and on 6 December he was reported to have made two visits, one to the Kim Chaek Iron and Steel Complex and the other the Ranam Coal Mining Machine Complex.

Given the current circumstances on the Korean Peninsula, it is interesting KCI spent time in close proximity to the KPA’s 108th Mechanized Corps (which is headquartered in the Hamhung area) and several sites connected to the country’s military industry.  In the week-long official reporting about his activities, Kim Chong-un was not reported as having attended any visits or concerts with his father.


An affiliate of 38 North