What is the Kim Jong Il University of Military Politics?

Plans to establish the school were decided upon during the fourth enlarged meeting of the Seventh Central Military Commission in May

A Daily NK source in North Korea recently provided some details about Kim Jong Il University of Military Politics, a school that was introduced for the first time during the Oct. 10 Party Foundation Day military parade.

The source, who is in North Korea’s military, told Daily NK on Tuesday that the school is based on North Korea’s top military academy, Kim Il Sung Military University. During the parade, Korean Central Television (KCTV) introduced a column of marchers from “Kim Jong Il University of Military Politics,” stating that it is “renowned as a center for producing the nation’s highest ranking military commanders.”

Kim Il Sung Military University is an elite military academy providing specialized training to officers ranked company commander and above. Selected officers from the country’s army, navy and air force between the ranks of sangwi (equivalent to a rank between first lieutenant and captain in the South Korean military) and lieutenant colonel can enroll for specialized three to four-year programs focused on artillery, engineering, chemical warfare, or other fields of study.

Meanwhile, higher ranking officers above sangjwa (a rank between South Korea’s lieutenant colonel and colonel) can enroll in one-year training courses.

As part of efforts to establish the Kim Jong Il University of Military Politics, authorities cleaved off the one-year course for upper level officers at Kim Il Sung Military University and intensified it, lengthening it into a two-year course.

The source said that this reorganization of military training courses reflects a desire by the country’s leadership to turn Kim Jong Il University of Military Politics into a “base” to develop officers who are proficient in modern warfare and possess “strategic and tactical talents.”

“While the roots of Kim Il Sung Military University are in the revolutionary armed forces of Juche, which were established in accordance with the military foundation line of the Suryong [Kim Il Sung], Kim Jong Il University of Military Politics’ basic principle is the cultivation of combined military unit commanders competent in Juche[-style] battle tactics,” the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Daily NK.

Given the fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un graduated from the “artillery command class” of Kim Il Sung Military University, some in the country believe the authorities are aiming to turn his alma mater into North Korea’s top military academy. As evidence, they point to the authorities affixing Kim Jong Il’s name to the new school as a way to emphasize the late leader’s “military-first politics.”

Soldiers marching during the Party Foundation Day military parade on Oct. 10. / Image: KCNA

Plans to establish the school were decided upon during the fourth enlarged meeting of the Seventh Central Military Commission in May, during which Kim signed seven directives, the source said. These directives reportedly included an order to reorganize major military academies “in order to boost their responsibility and roles.”

For two months beginning in June, a front gate specifically for the new school was erected by construction crews from the General Political Bureau on Kim Il Sung Military University’s campus. In short, Kim Jong Il University of Military Politics is located in the Gumsong neighborhood of Pyongyang’s Mangyongdae District, just like Kim Il Sung Military University.

Moreover, the source told Daily NK that classrooms, training fields, tactical research rooms, training halls, sleeping quarters, armories and other facilities were divided between the two schools, and the best educators of Kim Il Sung Military University’s “Kim Jong Il Military Research Center” were assigned to the new academy.

“Kim Jong Il University of Military Politics was quickly reorganized over the course of four months to become a central military university that cultivates the best commanders for the army, navy and air force, and it began classes in September,” said the source. “After a month of practice, [students from the] school participated in this year’s Party Foundation Day military parade.”

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Jeong Tae Joo is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. He focuses on North Korean military matters. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.