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I couldn't make this happen in the way I discussed above:

I mean, 1. create an instance. 2. complete the setup and let the instance running. 3. detach the ISO file from the instance and attach a hda device. 4. restart the VM. 5. shut off the VM and start it again to check whether it has become persistent.

These 5 steps always lead me to reinstallation of the guest OS.

However, I observed one peculiar scenario.

Just after Step 4, I took the snapshot of the running VM. Then, I terminated the instance and launched a fresh VM from the snapshot.

Strange but this time the VM created from the snapshot was persistent. I mean, i shut this new VM and started it. Unlike the "boot from ISO" case, I was not anymore prompted for reinstallation of guest OS.

Thus, anyhow, I assume, my problem is resolved but left me wonder why couldn't i get success from the former 5 steps procedure.