About the Author
View more articles by Jacob Fromer
Jacob Fromer is NK News's Washington DC correspondent. He previously worked in the U.S. Senate.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reappeared on Saturday after an unexplained 22-day absence and presided over a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Military Commission (CMC), the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said Sunday.
Among the numerous items reportedly on the meeting’s agenda was a call for “further increasing” the country’s nuclear war deterrence and “putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation,” according to KCNA, as well as promoting a number of military officials.
“The respected Supreme Leader put main emphasis on thoroughly realizing the party’s monolithic leadership over the People’s Army by consolidating the party organizations and political institutions at all levels within the People’s Army and enhancing their function and roles, and on providing party leadership to conducting military, political, logistic and defence and all other affairs in line with the ideology and intention of the party under whatever circumstances,” KCNA said.
“He specified key issues to be constantly maintained in the military and political performance of the armed forces of the DPRK, and tasks and ways.”
According to KCNA, “the meeting discussed important military steps and organizational and political measures to further bolster up the overall armed forces of the DPRK politically and ideologically and in military technique.”
Those steps and measures, the report said, would allow the North Korean armed forces “to be able to firmly defend the political stability and sovereignty of the country and reliably contain the persistent big or small military threats from the hostile forces.”
The meeting — described as the “Fourth Enlarged Meeting of the Seventh Central Military Commission” — was just the second known public appearance for Kim Jong Un since early April.
The DPRK leader was out of the public eye for three weeks last month, leading to widespread speculation and rumors that he may be severely ill or even dead.
Kim reportedly reappeared at a fertilizer factory on May 1 — along with some visible signs that he may have undergone a medical procedure during his prolonged absence — but then vanished again for 22 days.
Before his two consecutive disappearances, Kim had presided over multiple military drills and missile tests this year, according to DPRK state media.
Sunday’s KCNA report also detailed a number of agenda items related to North Korea’s military that apparently were discussed in the meeting.
“The meeting reviewed and analyzed a series of drawbacks in the military and political activities of the overall armed forces of the DPRK including the People’s Army, and discussed methodological issues for overcoming them and bringing about drastic improvement,” the report said.
“Also discussed at the meeting were the issue of examining and setting right the unreasonable machinery and compositional defects and the core issues for further increasing the capabilities for militarily deterring the threatening foreign forces by rapidly increasing the self-reliant defence capabilities and organizing new units,” it continued.
The report added that the meeting highlighted the country’s need to “increase” its nuclear deterrent.
“Set forth at the meeting were new policies for further increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation in line with the general requirements for the building and development of the armed forces of the country,” it said.
“Taken at the meeting were crucial measures for considerably increasing the firepower strike ability of the artillery pieces of the Korean People’s Army.”
The report also said that Kim Jong Un signed seven orders at the meeting related to the North’s military affairs.
“He signed seven orders including the orders on new military measures discussed and decided at the Party CMC, an order on draft reorganization of machinery for enhancing the responsibility and roles of the major military educational institutions, the order on reorganizing the military commanding system to meet the mission and duty of the security institutions, and the order on promoting the military ranks of commanding officers,” KCNA said.
According to KCNA, Ri Pyong Chol — a longtime aide to the DPRK leader and an key figure in the country’s nuclear and missile program — was elected as vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission at the meeting.
Dozens more military officials were also promoted, the report added.
“The CMC of the [Workers’ Party] decided to promote the military ranks of major commanding officers of the People’s Army in high recognition of their devotion and efforts to glorify this year marking the significant 75th anniversary of the glorious WPK as the first year of great victory in the frontal breakthrough,” wrote KCNA.
Edited by Christina Lee and Oliver Hotham
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reappeared on Saturday after an unexplained 22-day absence and presided over a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party Central Military Commission (CMC), the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said Sunday.
Among the numerous items reportedly on the meeting's agenda was a call for "further increasing" the country's nuclear war deterrence and "putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation," according to KCNA, as well as promoting a number of military officials.