2009 Inspections by Kim Jong Il focus on economic, military sites

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No.09-12-22-1
12/22/2009

The latest on-site visit by Kim Jong Il, in mid December, marked the 156th inspection of the year. This is an increase of approximately 170 percent over last year. Among those accompanying the ‘Great Leader’, Secretary of the Central Committee of the Korean Workers’ Party Kim Ki-nam was seen most frequently, traveling with Kim Jong Il on 107 different occasions. Others seen frequently with Kim include Jang Sung-taek, brother-in-law and right-hand man, as well as Party Central Committee Vice-chairman Pak Nam-ki.

According to North Korean media officials, Kim Jong Il’s on-site inspections this year include 64 visits to economically important locations, 43 to military installations, 13 to sites related to foreign affairs, and 36 to other sites, for a total of 156 visits. Kim made only 90 visits during 2008.

Last year, 55 percent (50 visits) of Kim Jong Il’s on-site inspections were to military sites, while 26 percent (24 visits) of trips were to sites related to the economy. This year, 41 percent of site visits were to economically-relevant sites, while only 27 percent were to military sites.

These visits are linked to the recent ‘100-day Battle’ and ‘150-day Battle’ to boost domestic production in order to meet North Korea’s goal of being a ‘strong and prosperous nation’ by 2012.

North Korean authorities are undertaking massive construction projects across the country, such as the building the Huicheon Thermoelectric Plant, tens of thousands of new housing units, and other large-scale construction projects.

Broken down monthly, Kim Jong Il has ventured out to on-site visits 10-19 times per month, with the exception of July (8 visits). He has made 8 visits in December up until the 17th.

It is also important to note those who have travelled with Kim. As mentioned previously, Kim Ki-nam was seen 107 times and Jang Sung-taek travelled with Kim 82 times. In addition, Hyon Chol-hae, a former bodyguard of Kim Il Sung and confidant of Kim Jong Il, made 56 visits, General Ri Myong-su was seen with Kim 48 times, and Vice Marshal of the Korean People’s Army Kim Yong Chun was seen on 30 different occasions.

Of particular interest among all of Kim Jong Il’s public appearances this year is that in November he made a visit to the headquarters of the Ministry of People’s Security. Kim also visited the naval complex in Nampo in mid November, and made his first visit to the North’s very first free-trade zone, in Rason, North Hamgyong Province, inspecting the Rasong Dae-heung Trade Fishery Complex. Both of these followed the inter-Korean naval clash in the Yellow Sea on November 10th.

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