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Analysis

31 Days in January

Kang Mi Jin  |  2012-02-02 10:30
Kim Jong Eun has made 14 of a North Korean leader's patented 'onsite guidance' visits since the dawn of 2012, meaning one every second or third day. As has been widely reported, on New Years Day Kim visited the decorated No. 105 'Ryu Gyung Su' Tank Division. Thereafter, he concentrated his visits on other military complexes around the Lunar New Year (January 23rd). There were only 8 overtly military destinations, but if we include his visit to the Mangyungdae Revolutionary Academy and observation of a marching band performance, this takes his official military total to 10. The remaining destinations included one economic and three other performances or recitals.

Kim Jong Euns January tour has mirrored that of Kim Jong Il last January in one way, and that is in terms of number, 14; however, only one of the former leaders trips was to a military facility. Of course, Kim Jong Il had different priorities in his choice of destination at a time when North Korea was trying to portray a regime focused on light industrial development as it strove for economic development.

Furthermore, Kim Jong Euns choices differ radically from those of his father at another time: Kim Jong Il did not make any official appearances whatsoever for 87 days after Kim Il Sung died (once he had completed face-to-face meetings with key mourners).

Of the 8 genuine military facilities toured, 6 have been those on a list of units decorated as Oh Joong Heub No.7 Regiment. The original such regiment is eulogized as being the one responsible for protecting Kim Il Sung during his anti-Japanese guerrilla days and doing so with the very utmost loyalty and dedication. North Korea has been leveraging the image of this group for some years, decorating military units deemed worthy with the title.

In short, these were safe destinations for Kim to visit. However, it has been seen by some as a way to stir up a loyalty competition within the countrys armed forces as well. Meanwhile, such inspections in the Kim family are commonly followed by fervent glorification and ideological campaigns. As such, propaganda imploring the military to do things along the lines of learn from the achievements of comrade Kim Jong Eun who devotes himself to the cause day and night" are likely.
 
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