Munitions Sector Gets Public Attention

[imText1]Kim Jong Il and successor Kim Jong Eun recently posed for a commemorative picture in front of Mt. Keumsoo Memorial Palace in Pyongyang alongside the attendees at a conference of model logistics and munitions workers.

The North Korean authorities released news of the conference, held for two days over the 24th and 25th, through Chosun Central Broadcast (the state-run radio station), Chosun Central TV, in Rodong Shinmun and on the propaganda website ‘Uriminjokkiri’.

According to the North Korean media reports, Kim Jong Il said, “Cadres and workers in the munitions section devote themselves to the management of weapons and materials for weapons technology without reputation or reward, and without regard to popular recognition.”

Kim called them “the conscience of humanity, real patriots, precious national treasures and magnificent comrade gunstocks of our Party.”

According to defectors, this is the first time that the authorities have held a model workers’ conference specifically for the munitions sector.

The reason why Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Eun made a show of their participation is likely to be because they aim to awaken cadres and workers to a lack of wartime reserves and the need to raise morale. The participation of very high Party and military officials seems to back this interpretation.

The attending model workers would appear to be from the Logistics General Bureau, which is in charge of stocking North Korea’s reserves; it is a group whose activities are ordinarily top secret. Therefore, it is unusual for the authorities to have organized this event, particularly so publicly.

The North Korean authorities have had one eye firmly on the country’s war reserves since Kim Il Sung was alive. Kim himself told planners to “secure enough wartime reserves for two months even if they do nothing.” Accordingly, the Bureau has trucks loaded with reserve materials such as gas, clothes, rice and communication tools on standby at all times. For security, they apparently let down the tires.

However, slack discipline in the military and Party results in the usage of military reserves, not to mention their theft, as shown by the stealing of gasoline and other materials from a military depot in Chongjin which was released by The Daily NK on the 17th of this month.

According to the North Korean media, the event was attended by Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission Lee Young Ho, Director of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces Kim Young Chun, Defense Commission Vice Chairman Jang Sung Taek, First-Vice-Director of the General Political Bureau of the Army Kim Jeong Kak, Party Secretary Park Do Chun, First Vice-Director of the Ministry of the Munitions Industry of the Central Committee of the Party Ju Kyu Chang, Vice Director of the General Political Department of the People’s Army Kim Won Hong, Director of the Operation Department of the Army Kim Myeong Kuk, Naval Commander Lee Byeong Cheol, among others.