Yeonpyeong Attack 'Aimed to Bolster Kim Jong-un'

North Korea's artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island in the West Sea on Nov. 23 was an attempt to establish a record of achievements for Kim Jong-il's son and heir Jong-un, experts speculate.

One government official on Tuesday said, "We've noticed that the North has internally touted Kim Jong-un as an artillery expert."

A Unification Ministry official said most defectors who fled the North since the second half of last year testify that they had been indoctrinated in the North about Kim Jong-un being an artillery wizard.

Kim junior is repeatedly described as a "military genius well-versed in artillery tactics" in a propaganda document obtained by the Chosun Ilbo.

The document claims he "learned artillery tactics when he studied at Kim Il Sung Military University and developed a profound grasp of the importance of the role of artillery in modern warfare." He is also said to be good at drawing up artillery maps.

North Koreas Artillery Command Unit 1489 stages a drill. Leader Kim Jong-il and his son and heir Jong-un reportedly visited the unit in an unknown location early last year. /[North] Korean Central News Agency-Yonhap North Korea's Artillery Command Unit 1489 stages a drill. Leader Kim Jong-il and his son and heir Jong-un reportedly visited the unit in an unknown location early last year. /[North] Korean Central News Agency-Yonhap

According to the document, Kim junior graduated from the military university with honors in all subjects, finishing a three-year infantry command course and a two-year research course. He attended a commencement ceremony on Dec. 24, 2006.

There he presented "several operations maps reflecting his strategic and tactical ideas" to military commanders. Upon seeing the maps, the commanders were reportedly "seized with admiration, calling them 'extraordinary, superb and outstanding' examples of the military strategies" of regime founder Kim Il-sung and leader Kim Jong-il.

The document calls them "new kinds of maps that were made for the first time" in the North "using satellite data and GPS coordinates." "These maps will be very helpful to all tactical military units in organizing combat operations and commanding their batteries. They can play a big role in guaranteeing the accuracy of pinpoint artillery strikes," it claims.

"Kim Jong-un's graduation thesis at the military university was said to be about how to improve the accuracy of artillery strikes using GPS coordinates," the government official added. "It may be true that he has some interest in artillery."

The Unification Ministry official said Kim Jong-il watched artillery drills by units under the Artillery Command once a month during the first quarter last year, and it seems that Kim Jong-un accompanied him.

A former senior North Korean official who defected to the South said, "North Korea's war strategy, which it claims was created by Kim Il-sung and developed by Kim Jong-il, envisions destroying strategic points in South Korea with all kinds of artillery guns right after a war breaks out."

"Kim Jong-un is being touted as an artillery expert in line with propaganda that he is the legitimate heir to his father and grandfather," he added.

Meanwhile, the final part of the document says Kim Jong-il convened sessions of the Workers Party's Central Military Commission on March 27, 2008 and Feb. 11, 2009 where he urged the military to improve its command system and morale in preparation for war.

The commission effectively existed in name only for about 20 years but seems to have made a comeback on Sept. 28, when it was revamped at the extraordinary party congress that established Kim Jong-un as the heir.

"If the document is authentic, it suggests that the commission has been functioning properly at least since 2008," the ministry official said. "It's possible that Kim Jong-un played some kind of role in the commission even before he became vice chairman at the party congress in September."

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 01, 2010 11:53 KST