Kim Makes Low Key Island Visit

Kim Jong Eun recently visited frontline defensive positions in the West Sea, Chosun Central News Agency reported yesterday. Kim had previously visited the same locations in the middle of August last year, as well as in March 2013, when tensions were particularly high on the Korean Peninsula.

Mudo and Jangjae islands lie just a few kilometers over the Northern Limit Line (NLL) from the South Korean islands of Yeonpyeong and Baekryeong. It was artillery units on Mudo that shelled Yeonpyeong Island on November 23rd, 2010, killing four. As such, the area is a sensitive location for Kim Jong Eun to visit.

KCNA relayed that Kim Jong Eun visited residential quarters, where he praised the fact that they are equipped with TVs and other household goods. “The more I look around, the more I’m impressed,” he reportedly mused.

Unlike his visit in March this year, during which Kim offered threatening words for South Korea, this time he didn’t mention the South at all, reflecting the improving inter-Korean relationship.

KCNA also reported on Kim Jong Eun’s visit to the Patriotic Stone Factory in nearby Haeju.

The Ministry of Unification played down the visit in a regular briefing yesterday. Kim Hyung Seok told reporters, “It really looks like it was propaganda intended for their people,” adding, “They’ve been stressing the economy [recently], but they also place stress on the military, and it looks like this onsite visit was of that variety.”