Archive for the ‘Kim Jong Un’ Category

A new defector survey about market trade in North Korea, and what it says (maybe) about Kim Jong-un

Friday, August 28th, 2015

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein 

In Wall Street Journal, Jeyup Kwaak reports on a new defector survey by Seoul National University’s Institute for Peace and Unification Studies (08-26-2015) (added emphasis):

The Seoul National University Institute for Peace and Unification Studies annually surveys more than 100 North Koreans who defected in the prior calendar year. The results provide firsthand insight into developments in the isolated state, though its researchers said they shouldn’t be read as generalized facts due to the small pool of respondents.

[…]

The latest survey, of 146 North Koreans who escaped in 2014, shows significant growth from the previous year in the number of people saying they conducted private business activities and paid bribes to enable them. A little more than half said they received no money from the state, down from last year’s survey but up from the one released in 2013.

Experts say between half and three-quarters of North Koreans’ income comes from quasi-illegal market activities, such as trade of basic goods smuggled in from China, but sporadic crackdowns by national or regional security officials lead to irregular business and bribery. Defectors say officials often collect fees when they set up a booth at a market.

The results themselves do not present a new trend. Several previous defector studies indicate that markets are perhaps the most important source of income and sustenance for many (if not most) North Koreans. However, a few things are interesting to note.

The links may not be entirely clear, but it is at least symbolic that the current survey, albeit with a very small number of interviewees, suggests that support for Kim Jong-un and the leadership may not be waning, at the same time as market activity continues unabated. This at least calls into question an assumption that sometimes occurs that market trade would lead people to become more critical of the regime.

Again, too much shouldn’t be read too much into a small study with participants that probably are not geographically or socially representative of North Korea as a whole. Defectors as a group rarely are. But perhaps one could imagine that market trade being so institutionalized and regulated by the regime would make it more synonymous with the regime itself. I.e., if market trading is seen as something positive, maybe this reflects positively on the regime as well — perhaps the market has been co-opted.

The article also reminds us of the rather peculiar combination of dynamics seen under Kim Jong-un. On the one hand, market trade seems to continue unabated domestically, and initiatives like the new special economic zones and the agricultural reforms show that there is at the very minimum some new thinking going on.

But on the other hand, border controls have been tightened to a degree rarely seen since the mid-1990s, according to defector reports. Just today, DailyNK reports (in Korean) that resident in the Sino-Korean borderlands have seen their access to the Amnok river, often used for laundry by locals, increasingly restricted as of late. As the WSJ writes,

Just 614 North Koreans made it to the South in the first half of this year, compared with 2,706 in the 2011 calendar year, according to the most recent ministry data.

The drop in North Koreans who visited China on legal visas so far this year should perhaps also be seen in this context.

Taken together, the tightened border controls on the one hand, and the seemingly changing (one could say “progressive”) rhetoric on economic matters on the other, paint a mixed picture.

In the early days of Kim Jong-un, the question was whether he was a reformer or a hardliner. A few years into his rule, it seems he might be neither and both at the same time.

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A closer look at Kim Jong-un’s forestry speech

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein 

Vice-premier Choe Yong-gon was reportedly executed because he criticized Kim Jong-un’s reforestation policy initiative. It is interesting to look in more depth at what these policies actually are.

The forestry issue is tightly connected and reinforced both to the lack of food and energy, and to flooding damage. (I have laid out some of these connections in an earlier post.) There can be little doubt that Kim Jong-un is justified in focusing attention to the forestry issue.

The best (and only?) official guide I have seen so far to the policies underlying the reforestation drive of the past few months – which, again, Choe was reportedly executing for criticizing – is a speech delivered by Kim Jong-un to “senior officials of the party, the army and the state economic organs on February 26, Juche 104 (2015).” To understand the reforestation policies and their pitfalls, this speech is an interesting piece of information. Here are a few interesting things to note from the speech:

First, Kim is quite frank about describing the core problem. In the beginning of the speech, he talks openly about how the “arduous march” (the famine of the 1990s) has led people to cut down trees on a large scale across the country. He also mentions the reasons: to “obtain cereals and firewood”, and talks about how this causes landslides and flooding. Perhaps this is part of an overall pattern in recent years where North Korean authorities are less prone to deny the extent of problems and sometimes even exaggerate them, as may have been the case with the drought impact warnings of the early summer.

But it is also interesting to speculate about whether this says something about the way that information is treated in the uppermost echelons of North Korea. Some have claimed that Kim Il-sung might not have been informed of the extent of the country’s economic problems in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and that this might have been the case for Kim Jong-il as well. In this context, the frank way in which Kim Jong-un describes the results of the lack of food and fuel is striking.

Earlier official narratives of the impacts of natural disasters, like those in the mid-1990s, have often blamed the impacts on nature rather than on politics. Kim Jong-un seems to see it the other way around (which of course makes all the sense in the world).

Second, Kim seems to criticize politicized forestry management. In one sentence, he says that trees shouldn’t just be planted on official days and ceremonial “tree-planting days” (my emphasis):

Forest planting should not be done in such a way as planting some trees ceremoniously on tree­-planting days or transplanting fully­ grown trees, as was done in the past. It should be done in the way of raising young trees in large numbers and enlisting all the people in transplanting and cultivating them.

Maybe I am reading too much into this, but this can be read as a criticism of the North Korean practice of honoring various occasions by economic measures, like doling out extra rations on the leader’s birthdays et cetera. At least in forestry, Kim seems to be advocating pragmatism at the expense of ideological rigour. He also gives an anti-formalism shoutout later on, saying that

The plan for forest restoration should not remain in figures or charts on a piece of paper.

Third, Kim indicates that tree-felling will become more severely punished. He calls unauthorized felling of trees an act of “treachery” (my emphasis):

Random felling of trees in mountains must be prohibited. Now some people climb mountains and cut down trees to obtain firewood or timber without permission as they do not care a bit about the country’s forests. Unauthorized felling of trees is tantamount to treachery. All the people on this land should treasure and protect even a blade of grass and a tree of their country.

Later on, he says that

Random felling should be made a serious issue of whatever the unit concerned is and whoever the person concerned is.

This might speak against the sense of pragmatism mentioned above. Of course, people aren’t cutting down trees for fun or to ruin things for the state. It’s part of the coping-behavior that has been developed since the famine, where people do what they can to get by.

The state has expanded the scope for what is allowed in other areas, such as private market trade, in order to better align with the reality on the ground. Here, in contrast, Kim seems to suggest that cutting down trees must be punished more harshly, even though the core reasons why people cut down trees to begin with – lack of fuel and food – remain. Implementing harsher punishments would probably be a difficult task for local authorities.

Kim does mention that the fuel problem needs to be solved that that trees should be planted specifically for firewood. But almost in passing: he basically says that the fuel problem should be solved and moves on (I don’t imagine that most North Korean localities have the resources necessary to replace firewood with biogas at the moment):

In order to conserve forest resources, we should solve the people’s problem of fuel. Positive measures should be taken to solve this problem, including creating forests for firewood in every place and increasing the production and supply of coal for the people’s living. There are several units which have solved the fuel problem with biogas, fly ash or ultraanthracite. By actively popularizing their experience, we should ensure that all regions solve the fuel problem on any account by their own effort.

The strategy outlined isn’t all that impressive, and the forestry issue highlights politics as a battle for scarce resources: on the one hand, the state needs to prevent the floods and landslides that keep coming back every summer. On the other hand, people on the ground need a way to access firewood and space to grow food as the state isn’t providing these things. The problem won’t be solved by just saying that everyone should have access to fuel and all will be well. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to follow how this all plays out, and how the policies that Kim has outlined will be implemented (or not implemented) on the ground.

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It all comes together: North Korea’s floods, forests and the rumored execution

Saturday, August 15th, 2015

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

Two of the main news stories on North Korea right now – the rumored execution of Choe Yong-gon and the summer floods that have washed away thousands of hectares of farmland, and thus far killed 21 people (as reported on August 5th) – have something in common. They both show the politically sensitive and dire nature of North Korea’s forestry problem.

For decades, North Korea has had a big problem with its trees being cut down at a large scale.

There are two main reasons for this: 1) trees being cleared for farmland, and 2) wood becoming an increasingly important source of energy as other ones have waned. (I recall reading about cutting down trees for hillside farming as an edict from Kim Il-sung, which could explain why it’s taken so long for the policy to become openly questioned, but I cannot find the source for this at the moment.)

According to research by the World Resources Institute, forests about 18 times the size of Manhattan have been destroyed in the country for over ten years. Another institute has concluded that forest cover in the country dropped by 17 percent between 1970 and the late 1990s. Presumably it has become even worse since private hillside farming has increased.

The effect of this is visible for anyone who visits North Korea’s border either from South Korea or China. While North Korea’s hills are barren, the landscape is usually lush and green on the other side.

This is visible on Google Earth as well. Below is a picture showing Ganghwa island on the South Korean side. Its landscape is significantly more green than that in North Korea, north of the light yellow line.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 14.15.30

Image credit: Google Earth

As has long been known, this creates immense problems when the summer rains come. Without tree roots to soak  up the water, hills become too heavy and collapse, taking down much of the crops with them. So far, this year’s rains do not seem to have had as bad of an impact on the crops as in previous years, but the rainy season still isn’t over.

As Curtis has previously pointed out on this blog, this is a classical example of the tragedy of the commons. Since the state owns the forests, people have no direct incentive to treat them in a long-run beneficial way.

This is where the recently reported execution comes in. According to news reports, Choe Yong-gon was executed because he criticized Kim Jong-un’s forestry policies. What were these policies, and why was Choe supposedly critical of them?

It was in a speech on February 26th this year that Kim Jong-un outlined new plans for reforestation of the country. In the speech that was later printed in full in Rodong SinmunKim laid out the problem in a relatively frank way (emphasis added):

However, as people have felled trees at randomsince the days of the Arduous March on the plea of obtaining cereals and firewood and, worse still, as no proper measures have been taken to prevent forest fire, the precious forest resources of the country have decreased to a great extent. As the mountains are sparsely wooded, even a slightly heavy rain in the rainy season causes flooding and landslides and rivers dry up in the dry season; this greatly hinders conducting economic construction and improving people’s standard of living. Despite this, our officials have confined themselves to reconstructing roads or buildings damaged by flooding, failing to take measures for eliminating the cause of flood damage by planting a large number of trees on the mountains.

I haven’t been able to find information on the specific nature of Choe’s supposed criticism, but one can make some reasonable inferences. As is often the case with central bureaucracies, not least with that of North Korea, management and command at the central level seems out of touch with the reality on the ground. While forestry management authorities, according to news reports, have said that the tree species required to suit local conditions would take up to three years to produce, they have come under strong pressure to meet the planning goals and time frame stipulated by the central government. This problem is classical to planned economies. North Korea, of course, is by no means an exception.

Maybe Choe had pointed out the obvious: fundamentally, Kim’s forestry initiative makes little sense. When Kim says that “Unauthorized felling of trees is tantamount to treachery”, it almost sounds like people continuing to cut down trees to cope and muddle through, as has been done for decades, will be punished much harder in the past.

North Korea’s forest issues embodies many of its other problems. As long as other sources of energy don’t grow drastically, and as long as the leadership doesn’t find a way to better manage its food supply, forests will continue to be destroyed. The forestry policy does not seem feasible in practice, and the policy sequencing is problematic to say the least.

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Kim Jong Un visits Automation Institute of Kim Chaek University of Technology

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Automation-Institute-Kimchaek-KCNA

Automation-institute-Google-Earth

Top: Official KCNA photo of the new Automation Institute of Kim Chaek University of Technology Bottom: Google Earth satellite image of the facility in the new Mirae Scientist Street

According to Google Earth imagery, construction on the project started around September 2014.

According to KCNA:

Kim Jong Un Gives Field Guidance to Automation Institute of Kim Chaek University of Technology

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, gave field guidance to a newly-built building of the Automation Institute of Kim Chaek University of Technology.

He was greeted on the spot by Hwang Pyong So, Kim Jong Gwan, other officials of the relevant field and officers of the KPA units taking part in the construction.

He had promised to make sure that a new building was constructed for the Automation Institute when he was acquainting himself with the work of the institute in April last year.

He chose the site of the institute on the picturesque bank of the River Taedong and guided its layout several times. He not only saw to it that a powerful construction force of the People’s Army was formed for the project but personally settled the issues arising in it.

Enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the institute, he said the institute was successfully built to match the environment around it as required by the layout ratified by the party.

He went round several places of the institute to learn about its construction in detail.

He was pleased that the institute was built in such a way as to visually showcase the party’s policies of attaching importance to science and technology and talents and provide its researchers with ample conditions for their scientific researches and living.

He told officials to fully provide the institute with reading rooms, e-library and video system so that they might help the researchers in their work and study.

Noting that a country can prosper only when a revolution is carried out with a proper view and stand on science and talents, he underscored the need to provide the institute with modern equipment and vehicles necessary for its operation as it was built into a cutting-edge scientific research center. He was so kind as to promise to ensure that this matter would be settled by the party.

He highly praised the soldier builders of KPA units 407 and 101 for fully displaying the revolutionary soldier spirit in the construction of the institute.

He expressed belief that the researchers of the institute would creditably perform their mission and duty as standard-bearers in breaking through the cutting-edge science and technology by carrying forward the tradition in which they have contributed to the cause of the party with their valuable scientific and technological achievements and thus give fuller play to their patriotic enthusiasm and devotion to living up to the expectations of the party, the country and its people.

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Kim Jong Un to shift focus to sconomy starting this year

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2015-6-11

After Kim Jong Un came to power, North Korea made regime stability and unity its priority and launched an intensive propaganda campaign, according to a study.

The Chosun Ilbo and experts on inter-Korean relations recently conducted a joint study in which they analyzed the past 5 years of articles published on the front page the Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). The study found that the percentage of articles stressing regime solidarity was 36 percent, higher than any other category. Following that were articles related to the economy (34 percent), the military (16 percent), foreign relations (10 percent), and South Korea relations (1 percent). This contrasts with the year 2011 when Kim Jong Il was in power. That year 51 percent of articles were related to the economy, while 28 percent dealt with regime unity.

However, in 2012, the first year of Kim Jong Un’s rule, the percentage of articles stressing regime unity reached 52 percent. Meanwhile, 21 percent of articles focused on the military, and 18 percent focused on the economy. Thus, we can surmise that after Kim Jong Il’s sudden death in December 2011, new leader Kim Jong Un fully mobilized media like the Rodong Sinmun to build his power base.

In 2013 and 2014, the percentage of front page articles dealing with regime unity was 37 percent and 35 percent, respectively, higher than any other type of article in those years. Thus, in the three years (2012, 2013, 2014) Kim Jong Un has been in power, priority has been placed on consolidating the power structure. During this period Kim Jong Un strengthened regime stability through means such as the purging and successive demotion of party, military, and political officials.

Once Kim Jong Un ascended to power, the amount of coverage related to the military also rose rapidly compared to the Kim Jong Il era. Experts view this as part of the effort to strengthen the foundation of Kim Jong Un’s power. In 2011, when Kim Jong Il was alive, the percentage of front page articles in the Rodong Sinmun related to the military was almost insignificant at 5 percent. But in 2012 that percentage rose to 21 percent, and in 2013 it rose again to 26 percent. Military coverage was especially common around the time of the December 2012 long-range missile launch and the February 2013 third nuclear test. In 2014, articles related to the military decreased; this year they seem to be increasing.

However, as Kim Jong Un approaches the end of the fourth year of his rule, there appears a turn to emphasize economic policy. This year for the first time in Kim Jong Un’s rule the percentage of front page articles about the economy (42 percent) exceeded the percentage of articles related to regime solidarity (26 percent). The North Korean leader intends to make just as much progress on the food security issue as he has in strengthening the foundation of his power. Now, as Kim Jong Un gains confidence in his power status, we might expect him to shift his policy priorities from securing regime support to improving the economy.

From a political perspective, the tendency for Kim Jong Un to honor his father’s legacy is also waning. In 2011 and 2012, articles related to Kim Jong Il’s birthday were continuously published on the front page of the Rodong Sinmun from January to the end of February. But this year the period for this coverage was shortened to five days (from February 14 to 18).

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Gause on Kim Jong-un’s power consolidation

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

According to Yonhap:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has not fully consolidated his power and could be marginalized into a “puppet” unless he brings in more money and buys support from within the regime in a couple of years, a U.S. expert said Monday.

That is why Pyongyang is largely maintaining its charm offensive toward South Korea while refraining from major provocations in an attempt to prod Seoul to improve inter-Korean relations and “open up the coffers,” said Ken Gause, a top North Korea expert at CNA Corp., during a lecture.

“The royal economy, which is part of the economy surrounding the Kim family, is losing money. They can’t bring in as much money. He’s having to spend about twice as much money than his father did to buy support within the regime,” Gause said. “He doesn’t have the resources to be able to consolidate his power and buy relationships.”

Power struggles, which have been frozen in place since Kim’s execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek, could thaw out in one to two years, and if those power struggles happen, Kim no longer has the regent structure around to protect him, the expert said.

“He is now directly exposed to those power struggles and he can be undermined by that. Not toppled, not coup, but marginalized and turned into a puppet. I think that would happen within the next two to five years. I really think he needs to do this within the next couple of years,” Gause said.

The economic problem is one of three things Kim must address to consolidate the power he inherited from his father, Kim Jong-il, who died in late 2011, the expert said. The two other tasks are to purge potential adversaries and bring in people and to make progress in defense systems, such as the missile and nuclear programs.

The economic question is why North Korea reached out to Japan and Russia, he said.

“A part of why they reached out to Japan was to put pressure on South Korea. It’s all about South Korea. That’s why they’re playing ball with the Russians right now,” he said. “It’s all getting South Korea to open up the coffers. That’s what it’s about.”

The economic reason also explains why the North hasn’t launched another provocation, Gause said.

“They don’t want to undermine the charm campaign. There’s still, if you read their rhetoric, if you read the media, it does suggest that even though they’re talking a harsh language towards the South Koreans, they’re keeping the door open for potential engagement,” he said.

“If they go and test a missile and especially if they test a nuke, that’s going to really undermine that, especially if they return to something like Cheonan, or whatever. It’s game over at that point,” he said, referring to the North’s 2010 sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan.

However, if the North makes a determination at some point in the near future that South Korea is not going to play ball, the North may become much more aggressive in terms of provocations, he said.

Should the North’s young leader visit Moscow next month for celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II, it would suggest there’s “stability inside the regime, that he can leave the country,” the expert said.

Another factor that should be watched closely is whether Kim’s second child is a girl or boy, Gause said. Kim’s first child is a girl.

“If it’s a girl and Kim Jong-un were to die or become incapacitated, then you’ve got a major transfer of power issue,” he said, raising the possibilities that Kim’s brother, Jong-chol, could take over or the North could establish collective leadership.

Read the full story here:
N.K. leader has yet to consolidate power, could be marginalized into ‘puppet’: U.S. expert
Yonhap
Chang Jae-soon
2015-04-14

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There can be only one Kim Jong-un

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

UPDATE 3 (2014-12-8): The Wall Street Journal points out there are many “Kim Jong-un”s in South Korea and most are female.

UPDATE 2 (2014-12-9): Although there can be only one Kim Jong-un (and previously Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il), the same level of reverence is apparently not reserved for Kim Jong-suk, Kim Jong-il’s mother and former wife of Kim Il-sung. There is currently another Kim jong-suk serving in the South Korean government According to KCNA (2012-11-29):

Jindallae Children’s Foundation Created

Pyongyang, November 29 (KCNA) — There took place at the People’s Palace of Culture here on Nov. 29 a ceremony of establishing Jindallae Children’s Foundation and donating funds.

Present there were Kim Jong Suk, chairwoman of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries of the DPRK, and officials concerned and the visiting delegation for the establishment of the foundation headed by Jindallae Saphariny and foreign diplomats and embassy officials here.

You can see a picture of this Kim Jong-suk here (with UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim and Ho Dam)

UPDATE 1: Apparently a defector has produced a document from the DPRK that backs up this claim. I have not seen the document.

ORIGINAL POST: According to the Associated Press:

A South Korean official said Wednesday that Pyongyang forbids its people from using the same name as the young absolute leader.

The measure appears meant to bolster a personality cult surrounding Kim, who took over after the death of his dictator father Kim Jong Il in late 2011. Seoul officials have said Pyongyang also banned the use of the names of Kim Jong Il and the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung.

The South Korean official said Kim Jong Il in early 2011 ordered citizens with the same name as his son to get new names and demanded that authorities reject birth registrations of newborn babies with the name.

The official requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. He refused to disclose how the information was obtained.

Although there is no real proof for this story, I find it entirely plausible. The case was the same for Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

In open source documents, I have been able to track down at least one other “Kim Jong un”. He published some comments in KCNA back on April 23, 1997.

The moral of the story: If you live in the DPRK, don’t name your child “Kim Jong-anything”.

Read the full AP story here:
There Can Be Only 1: N.Korean Leader’s Name Banned
Associated Press
Hyung-Jin Kim
2014-12-2

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Kim Jong Un’s field guidance in August focuses mainly on economic sectors

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-8-18

So far in August, Kim Jong Un’s onsite inspection visits have focused particularly on economic-related sectors – a shift from the previous month, when the young leader visited mostly military bases, providing field guidance on one occasion during a rocket firing drill.

North Korean media continues to criticize the US-ROK Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) exercise (which will be held this month) and increase the threat level by reporting on “continuous military training” and “strengthening of nuclear capabilities.” However, the last few official visits that Kim made were mainly economic related.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 7 reported that Kim Jong Un made a field guidance visitation to a sock factory in Pyongyang and emphasized, “It is important to make good business management strategy.” Previously KCNA reported Kim’s visit to Chonji Lubricant Factory on August 5, and Chollima Tile Factory on August 3.

Kim’s public activities in July, however, focused chiefly on military related sites. He visited Korean Peoples’ Army (KPA) Navy commanding officers, directed their aquatics training, and provided guidance at ground, naval, air, and air defense forces of the KPA for island landing combat training.

Meanwhile, the regime’s new catchphrase “speed battle” is increasingly being used. In addition to public mobilization slogans such as “Masikryong Speed” and “Chosun Speed,” another new phrase has appeared: “Kim Jong Un’s Spirit of the Offensive.”

In order to aggrandize Kim Jong Un’s achievements, soldiers were mobilized to various construction sites including Masik Pass (or Masikryong), Munsu Water Park, and Mirim Equestrian Club. Continually, soldiers have been observed working at ongoing construction project sites, including Satellite Scientist Street in Pyongyang.

During this process, North Korea is vaunting “Masikryong Speed” and “Chosun Speed” — which is a reference to rapid construction — as an important achievement of Kim Jong Un. After the collapse of a 23-story apartment building on May 13, the young leader has emphasized the importance of safety; nevertheless, speed battles continue to be promoted.

In this light, recently North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun published a lengthy article which describes exceptional officials of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), stating that “the current times call for workers with fighting spirit.”

UPDATE: Below is a list of Kim Jong-un’s guidance trips in August as of the date this article was published:

Yonphung Rest Home for Scientists
Guides Tactical Rocket Test-fire (Hodo Peninsula, Kumya County)
Kalma Foodstuff Factory
Apartment Houses for University Educators [Kimchaek]
Construction Sites of Pyongyang Baby Home and Orphanage Again
Examining Women’s Football of National Sports Team (Kangdong)
machine plant managed by Jon Tong Ryol
men’s volleyball game between the General Bureau of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Land and Maritime Transport
Pyongyang Hosiery Factory
Chonji Lubricant Factory
Chollima Tile Factory [Taedonggang Tile Factory]

These are the remainder of the guidance trips in August that occurred after the IFES article was published. They are predominantly military focused:

Guides Actual Parachuting and Striking Drill of Paratrooper Units of KPA
November 2 Factory of KPA
Breeding Station No. 621 of the KPA

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Two new interesting publications on the DPRK

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

The two publications deal with changing leadership dynamics and health care for the disabled. Links below…

North Korean leadership dynamics and decision-making under Kim Jong-un: A second year assessment
Ken Gause, CNS
Publiched March 2014
PDF DOWNLOAD

People with Disabilities in a Changing North Korea
Katharina Zellweger, 2011–13 Pantech Fellow, Stanford University
PDF DOWNLOAD

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Kim Jong-un increases economic inspections in 2013

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un nearly doubled his inspection tours of the economy last year, the unification ministry said Tuesday, underscoring his pledge to improve the country’s economic conditions.

Kim made 71 economy-related public appearances out of a total of 209 public outings last year, the ministry said, citing data released by the North’s state media.

In 2012, Kim made 37 economy-related public appearances out of a total of 151 public appearances.

Kim has called for efforts to boost agricultural output in a country where the U.N. World Food Program says the food security situation is still serious, with 84 percent of all households having borderline or poor food consumption.

Meanwhile, the young leader visited military bases and made other military-related public appearances on 62 occasions, compared with 49 in 2012, the ministry said.

The figures suggest that Kim still places major importance on the country’s 1.1 million-strong military, a key backbone of the power he inherited upon the death of his father, the late leader Kim Jong-il, in 2011.

Kim Jong-il advocated military-first, or “songun,” politics that channeled the country’s scarce resources into the armed forces, helping him maintain their loyalty.

Kim Jong-un’s public appearances also offered a rare glimpse of the rise and fall of his aides.

In 2012, Kim’s once-powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek accompanied the leader on 106 occasions, followed in a distant second by Choe Ryong-hae, the North Korean military’s top political officer, with 85.

A year later, Jang accompanied Kim on 52 occasions while Choe accompanied the leader on 153 occasions, according to the ministry.

Choe, a former provincial chief of the ruling Workers’ Party, appears to have secured a position as the country’s new No. 2 figure following the December execution of Jang on charges of treason.

Read the full story here:
N. Korean leader nearly doubles economic inspections
Yonhap
2014-1-14

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