Kim Jong Il Reportedly Staying in Wonsan

[imText1]According to a June 5th report in South Korean daily newspaper the Joongang Ilbo, Kim Jong Il has been at his villa in Wonsan since mid-May. Intelligence authorities in Seoul have been aware of Kim’s extended stay outside the capital since late last month.

A source familiar with the state of affairs in the North told Joongang on the 4th, “It has been confirmed that Kim Jong Il has vacated Pyongyang, and the intelligence authorities now maintain that Kim has been staying in Wonsan.”

Another North Korean source abroad apparently reported, “Other North Korean diplomats travelling to Beijing have hinted at the fact that Chairman Kim is not in Pyongyang.”

It has been suggested that if Kim is staying in Wonsan, he must have returned there after completing his onsite inspections in mid-May, or that he may even have failed to complete the visits at all. He was reported in the North Korea media to have finished all the inspections; the reports were accompanied by photos.

If Kim Jong Il has been staying in Wonsan for more than a month, it is probable that he has been staying at Hyangsan First Villa. This place is well-known as the site of one of Kim’s personal villas. It is also adjacent to the well-known Wonsan Songdowon Beach, which was reconstructed in the mid-1990s. In addition to Kim’s personal villa, buildings for family members and acquaintances can be found there.

According to the North Korean media, the number of publicized onsite visits made by Kim last month was four. The Chosun Central Broadcast, in a report on the 25th of last month, maintained that Kim had visited a total of around 100 places in the first six months of this year.

The South Korean Ministry of Unification said on the same day that it believed the number of field visits made by Kim to be 77, a significant increase on last year. Kim, who has apparently been doing an average of 10 visits per month until late June, can be expected to have reduced the number of visits since then.

North Korean media outlets tend to briefly report the news of Kim’s onsite visits within two or three days of their occurrence, but recently it has not been uncommon for the outlets to report the news within a single day.

The news of Kim’s attendance at an arts performance held by the families of the No. 264 Unit was reported on June 4th, and his visit to the Dongbong Collective Farm in Hamju, South Hamkyung Province was made official on the 7th. His visit to the No. 7 Infantry Division of the North Korean Army’s Eastern Front was reported on the 14th, while his visit to the Hamheung Theater was reported on the 15th.

Among these, intelligence authorities noted that the publicity photo of Kim from his visit to the No. 7 Division could be an altered version of a photo taken during his visit to the No. 851 unit in April. Both units are known to be located in Anbyeon, Kangwon Province.