Kim Jong-il visits economic sites across the country

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The North Korean media has reported Kim Jong Il has made nine official appearances from October 1 to 16, making roughly about one appearance every two days.

According to the KCNA, Kim has made six on-the-spot guidance visits in South Hamgyong Province, visiting Daehung Youth Hero and Ryongyang Mines in Danchon City and 2.8 [Vinalon] Complex, Hungnam Fertilizer Complex, Ryongsong Machinery Complex, and Hungnam Smeltery in Hamhung City.

Compared to last month’s official activities, this is a noticeable increase.

Kim has made 18 official appearances in July and spent a week in Russia and China in August but remained fairly quiet during the month of September with only six reported activities.

Last month, Japan’s Jiji Press reported that Kim was not able to meet with the Indonesian delegation (who was visiting Pyongyang at the time) due to poor health. Many experts also believe that Kim’s health has deteriorated since his return from abroad and thus has made fewer public appearances.

Kim is believed to have stayed in Pyongyang in September and his recent visits to South Hamgyong Province are evidence that his health is improving.

Another interesting fact is that most of Kim Jong Il’s recent activities are economic centered. He has made no visits to military base this month, and except for attendance at the sixty-sixth anniversary party of the Korean Workers’ Party and Unhasu Orchestra performance, Kim has focused mainly on economic on-site inspections.

Taking a closer look at the sites Kim has visited, they consist mainly of construction or completed sites such as Danchon Port, a solar energy installation center, Daedong River pig and duck farms, and Pyongsong synthetic leather factory in Northern Pyongan Province.

Accompanying Kim at these economic sites were also high ranking officials. The KCNA reported on October 18 that President of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong Nam, Premier Choe Yong Rim, and other party members inspected the modernized facilities of the Tudan Duck Farm.

As North Korea prepares for the year 2012, with the self-proclaimed goal of becoming a “strong and prosperous nation,” it appears to be placing added emphasis on producing tangible outcomes to encourage economic development and improve the quality of life for the North Korean people.

North Korea recently discussed ways to fulfill this year’s economic targets. In an extended plenary session presided over by Premier Choe Yong Rim, the cabinet addressed measures to increase the state’s production of coal, electricity, metal, and railways freight traffic. In addition, it also reported on the economic performance for the third-quarter of this year.

This story was published on October 27, but it was probably written on October 17th.  Following completion of the article, but before it was posted to the internet, Kim Jong-il did make two visits to KPA units (4304 and 985).

As of October 29, Kim Jong-il made 32 public appearances in the month:

Huichon Precision Machine Plant
Huichon Ryonha General Machinery Plant
February 8 General Machinery Plant
Jangjagang Machine Tool Factory
Kanggye General Tractor Plant
KJI received Li Keqiang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the Communist Party of China and vice-premier of the State Council of China
Banquet for South Hamgyong officials
Kwangdok Pig Farm
KPA Unit 985
Kim Jong Il received Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of Amur Region of the Russian Federation
KPA Unit 4304
Art Performance of KPA Company Soldiers
Tongbong Cooperative Farm
February 8 Vinalon Complex
Hungnam Fertilizer Complex
Ryongsong Machine Coplex
Hungnam Smeltery
Ryongyang Mine
Taehung Youth Hero Mine
Taedonggang Net-weaving Factory
Taedonggang Pig Farm
Taedonggang Terrapin Farm
Banquet Given by Central Committee and Central Military Commission of WPK
Unhasu Orchestra
Tudan Duck Farm
Solar Equipment Center
Central Tree Nursery
Phyongsong Synthetic Leather Factory
Raknang Disabled Soldiers’ Essential Plastic Goods Factory
Ryongjon Fruit Farm
Tanchon Magnesia Factory
Tanchon Port Construction

And what has Kim Jong-un been up to?  According to Yonhap:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s heir apparent has been seen expanding the realm of his public activities in recent months, according to reports from the North’s news media monitored in Seoul.

Kim named his youngest son, Jong-un, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party and a four-star general last September in the clearest sign yet that he will take over the regime.

The son has frequently attended economic and diplomatic events in the second half of this year while he focused on military-related activities in the first half, according to North Korean media reports.

The junior Kim has already accompanied his father for his public activities as many as 36 times in the four months or so from July, compared to 35 times in the first six months.

Of the 36 cases, 11 were economy-related, compared to nine in the first half.

Jong-un is also believed to be faithfully absorbing leadership lessons from his father in the diplomatic sector.

He sat beside his father when he met with visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Monday in Pyongyang.

Jong-un, in particular, sat to Li’s right during a photo opportunity for the meeting, indicating his firm position as the No. 2 man in the North.

On Sept. 23, Jong-un attended a meeting between his father and visiting Laotian President Choummaly Sayasone.

Experts say the heir apparent’s expansion of activities to the economy and diplomacy shows that the country’s second father-to-son power succession is going smoothly.

“Jong-un has yet to assume titles other than vice chairman of the Central Military Commission but seems to be strengthening his position, building experience in various fields,” a North Korea expert said, requesting not to be named.


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