JST on Political Bureau Presidium?

8 Jan
Jang Song Taek with Kim Jong Un in November 2012 and with Kim Jong Il in October 2011 (Photos: KCNA and KCTV screengrab)

Jang Song Taek with Kim Jong Un in November 2012 and with Kim Jong Il in October 2011 (Photos: KCNA and KCTV screengrab)

Graphic showing members and alternates of the KWP Political Bureau, reflecting Mr. Jang's alleged appointment to the Presidium (standing committee) (NKLW Graphic by M. Madden)

Graphic showing members and alternates of the KWP Political Bureau, reflecting Mr. Jang’s alleged appointment to the Presidium (standing committee) (NKLW Graphic by M. Madden)

Kyunhyang Shinum reported on 3 January 2013 that Jang Song Taek (Chang So’ng-t’aek; Jang Song Thaek) has quietly ascended to the Presidium (standing committee) of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau.  An unnamed diplomatic source (who cited someone in the DPRK) told Kyunghyang that “that Jang Song Thaek was promoted to the Political Bureau Presidium last year [2012].”  It is not certain whether JST was elected to the Presidium at reported Political Bureau meetings on 15 July 2012 or on 4 November 2012.  If JST ascended to the Presidium he has filled the vacancy left by former Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff Ri Yong Ho, who was removed from all party and military positions during the July Political Bureau meeting.  JST was elected an alternate (candidate member) of the Political Bureau at the 3rd Party Conference on 28 September 2010 and was moved up to being a full member of the Political Bureau at the 4th Party Conference on 11 April 2012.

Jang Song Taek has been instrumental in managing Kim Jong Un’s (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) relatively seamless transition.  A 26 December 2012 report in Kyodo News utilizing a Radiopress count of Kim Jong Un’s 149 reported public appearance, found that JST was reported to have attended 106 (71 %) of KJU’s events during the year.  Yonhap noted that in December 2012, made eight (8) reported public appearances, all of which were attended by Kim Jong Un.  According to Yonhap reported that this “indicates that Jang is now selectively attending so-called ‘No. 1 events’ that take place with Kim in attendance” and demonstrates his “‘raised’ status” in the leadership.

As evidence of Jang Song Taek’s elevated status in the KWP Political Bureau, Kyunghyang notes that since late November 2012 Jang’s name is listed or called among other Presidium Members in DPRK state media reporting.  At events in December 2012 and January 2013 attended by the Presidium’s three other members, JST is listed fourth in state media reports which implies his Presidium membership.

17 December 2012: KJI Demise Ku’msusan Visit

He was accompanied by Kim Yong Nam, Choe Yong Rim, Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Thaek, Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Kyok Sik, Pak To Chun, Kim Yong Chun, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Thae Bok, Yang Hyong Sop, Kang Sok Ju, Hyon Chol Hae, Kim Won Hong, Ri Myong Su, Kim Jong Gak, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Il, Kim Phyong Hae, Mun Kyong Dok, Kwak Pom Gi, Ju Kyu Chang, Ro Tu Chol, Ri Pyong Sam, Jo Yon Jun, Thae Jong Su and Choe Chun Sik, officials of the party, armed forces and power organs, the Cabinet and working people’s organizations, heroes, those who had been received by President Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong ll and labor innovators.

21 December 2012: 1st U’nha-3/KMS-3 Launch Personnel Banquet

Also present there were senior party, state and army officials including Kim Yong Nam, Choe Yong Rim, Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Thaek, Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyok Sik, Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Thae Bok, Pak To Chun, Kim Yong Chun, Kang Sok Ju, Hyon Chol Hae, Kim Won Hong, Ri Myong Su, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Il, Kim Phyong Hae, Kwak Pom Gi, Mun Kyong Dok, Ju Kyu Chang, Ro Tu Chol, Ri Pyong Sam, Jo Yon Jun and Choe Chun Sik.

24 December 2012: KJI Supreme Commander/KJS Birthday Ku’msusan Visit

He was accompanied by Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Thaek, Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyok Sik, Pak To Chun, Kim Yong Chun, Hyon Chol Hae, Kim Won Hong, Ri Myong Su, Ju Kyu Chang, Kim Kyong Ok, Choe Pu Il, Jo Kyong Chol, Pak Jong Chon, Ri Pyong Chol, Kim Yong Chol, Yun Jong Rin and other officials of the Central Military Commission of the WPK and the NDC of the DPRK and commanding officers of the KPA.

30 December 2012: Photo Op with U’nha-3/KMS-3 Launch Personnel

Present there were Kim Yong Nam, Choe Yong Rim, Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Thae Bok, Pak To Chun, Kim Yong Chun, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Il, Kim Phyong Hae, Kwak Pom Gi, Mun Kyong Dok, Ju Kyu Chang, Jo Yon Jun, Choe Chun Sik, Ri Ung Won, department directors and first vice department directors of the WPK Central Committee.

30 December 2012: 2nd Banquet for U’nha-3/KMS-3 Launch Personnel

Kim Yong Nam, Choe Yong Rim, Gen. Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Taek, Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, Gen. Kim Kyok Sik, Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Tae Bok, Pak To Chun, VMar Kim Yong Chun, Kang Sok Ju, VMar Hyon Chol Hae, Gen. Kim Won Hong, Gen. Ri Myong Su, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Il, Kim P’yo’ng Hae, Kwak Pom Gi, Mun Kyong Dok, Ju Kyu Chang, Col. Gen. Kim Chang Sop, Ro Tu Chol, Col. Gen. Ri Pyong Sam, Jo Yon Jun

1 January 2013: New Year’s Day Ku’msusan Visit

He was accompanied by Kim Yong Nam, Choe Yong Rim, Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Thaek, Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyok Sik, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Thae Bok, Pak To Chun, Kim Yong Chun, Yang Hyong Sop, Kang Sok Ju, Hyon Chol Hae, Kim Won Hong, Ri Myong Su, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Il, Kim Phyong Hae, Kwak Pom Gi, Mun Kyong Dok, Ju Kyu Chang, Kim Chang Sop, Ro Tu Chol, Ri Pyong Sam and Jo Yon Jun, who are leading officials of the party, state and the army, and officials of leadership organ of the Central Committee of the WPK.

Jang Song Taek at the Ku'mususan Memorial Palace of the Sun on 17 December 2012 (L and C) and on 24 December 2012 (R) (Photos: KCTV screengrabs and Rodong Sinmun)

Jang Song Taek at the Ku’mususan Memorial Palace of the Sun on 17 December 2012 (L and C) and on 24 December 2012 (R) (Photos: KCTV screengrabs and Rodong Sinmun)

Jang Song Taek (L) attends a New Year's reception in Pyongyang on 1 January 2013 with Kim Jong Un (4th L) and the PRC Ambassador to the DPRK (3rd L) (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap)

Jang Song Taek (L) attends a New Year’s reception in Pyongyang on 1 January 2013 with Kim Jong Un (4th L) and the PRC Ambassador to the DPRK (3rd L) (Photo: KCNA-Yonhap)

After Ri Yong Ho’s removal from office, based on DPRK state media reporting, it appeared that Gen. Hyon Yong Chol assumed Ri’s Presidium membership along with heading the KPA General Staff.  Until late November 2012, Gen. Hyon’s name was listed or called before Jang Song Taek’s.  JST has not only displaced Gen. Hyon on the state media-based hierarchy, but also his wife Kim Kyong Hui (sister of Kim Jong Il and paternal aunt of Kim Jong Un).

30 August 2012: Photo-op with Youth Day Participants

Present there were Choe Ryong Hae, Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyong Hui, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Thae Bok, Pak To Chun, Ri Yong Su and the chairman and vice-chairmen of the Central Committee of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, the head of the delegation of Korean youth and students in Japan and the head of the delegation of the Youth Federation of Korean Nationals in China.

2 September 2012: Concert of KPA Brass Band

Among the audience were KPA Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae, director of the KPA General Political Bureau, KPA Vice Marshal Hyon Yong Chol, chief of the KPA General Staff, Jang Song Thaek, vice-chairman of the NDC, KPA Generals Choe Pu Il, Pak Jae Gyong and Kim Yong Chol, KPA Lieut. General Pak Jong Chon, Hwang Pyong So, vice department director of the C.C., the WPK, and KPA service personnel.

9 September 2012: Foundation Day Ku’msusan Visit

Kim Jong Un was accompanied by Choe Ryong Hae, Hyon Yong Chol, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Jong Gak, Ri Yong Mu, Pak To Chun, Hyon Chol Hae, Kim Won Hong, O Kuk Ryol and other members of the Central Military Commission of the WPK and the National Defence Commission and staff members of the Supreme Command.

9 September 2012: KPA Song and Dance Ensemble Concert

Among the audience were Choe Yong Rim, Choe Ryong Hae, Hyon Yong Chol, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Ki Nam, Pak To Chun, Kim Jong Gak, Yang Hyong Sop, Hyon Chol Hae, Kim Won Hong, Kim Yong Il, Kim Yang Gon, Mun Kyong Dok, Ro Tu Chol and officials of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the Cabinet, ministries and national institutions and Pyongyangites.

10 September 2012: Ku’msusan KWP Anniversary Visit

The participants included Choe Ryong Hae, Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Jong Gak, Jang Song Thaek, Ri Yong Mu, Pak To Chun, Hyon Chol Hae, Kim Won Hong, O Kuk Ryol, Choe Pu Il, Kim Kyong Ok, Ri Pyong Chol, Kim Myong Sik, Yun Jong Rin, Pak Jong Chon and Kim Yong Chol.

29 October 2012: PY Soccer Finals

Among the spectators were Choe Ryong Hae, Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyong Hui, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Phyong Hae, Ju Kyu Chang, Mun Kyong Dok, officials of party and armed forces organs, ministries and national institutions and in the field of sports, sports persons, sports fans and people from all walks of life in Pyongyang

29 October 2012: KISMU Photo Op

Accompanying him in the photo session were Choe Ryong Hae, Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Jong Gak, Jang Song Thaek, Ri Yong Mu, Kim Yong Chun, Hyon Chol Hae, Kim Won Hong, Ri Myong Su, O Kuk Ryol, Ju Kyu Chang, Ryo Chun Sok, Jang Tong Un and other senior party and army officials.

7 November 2012: Shooting Contest and Volleyball Match

Among the spectators were senior officials of the party and army Choe Ryong Hae, Hyon Yong Chol, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Thae Bok, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Phyong Hae, Mun Kyong Dok, Ri Yong Su, Pak Pong Ju, Han Kwang Sang and other members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission.

18 November 2012: Mothers’ Meeting Photo-op

Present there were Kim Kyong Hui, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Ki Nam, Pak To Chun, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Il, Kim Phyong Hae, Kwak Pom Gi, Mun Kyong Dok, Ro Tu Chol, Jo Yon Jun, Ri Yong Su, Ro Song Sil, chairwoman of the Central Committee of the Democratic Women’s Union of Korea, Jong Hui Ja, head of the delegation of the Korean Democratic Women’s Union in Japan, Chon Jae Ryon, head of the delegation of Korean women in China, and Jong Il Sim, head of the delegation of Korean women in Russia.

25 November 2012: Equestrian KPA Company

He was accompanied by Choe Ryong Hae, Kim Kyong Hui, Jang Song Thaek, Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Ki Nam, Kim Kyok Sik, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Phyong Hae, Mun Kyong Dok, Pak Pong Ju, Han Kwang Sang, Kim Kyong Ok, Ri Ryong Ha, Hwang Pyong So, Kim Pyong Ho, Choe Pu Il, Son Chol Ju, Pak Jae Gyong, Pak Jong Chon, Kim Yong Chol, Jon Chang Bok and other senior officials of the party and the army.

Kyunghyang also reported that a different unnamed source claimed that Jang Song Taek will be appointed DPRK Cabinet Premier (Prime Minister) when the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly convenes its 7th session (plenum), presumably in April 2013.  Kyunghyang reported that JST was originally set to replace current Premier Choe Yong Rim in September, following JST’s visit to China.  Since Kim Jong Un’s accession in January and the subsequent senior personnel changes resulting therefrom, Choe’s name has appeared on several Pyongyang watchers’ lists of party elders targeted for replacement, including a recent three-part essay on DPRK politics by Dr. Alexandre Mansourov (although Mansourov identified Jang Song Taek as a likely replacement for Kim Yong Nam, President of the SPA Presidium and the official head of state).

However, Choe (like other elder elites) has been useful both to Kim Jong Un and Jang Song Taek.  On 17 December 2012 Tokyo Shimbun, citing a Pyongyang-based Korean Workers’ Party source, reported about an unpublicized meeting of party officials.  At the meeting there was some deliberation as to whether Kim Jong Un (who attended) should visit cooperative farms.  Choe Yong Rim said, “The time in not yet ripe for Dear General Kim Jong Un to visit and meet with farmers because conditions have yet to be created for totally resolving the problems of the farming sector.  Though I am this old, I will sacrifice myself for you for the time being.  Please, do not worry.”  After Choe spoke, Kim Kyong Hui remarked that “Prime Minister Choe’s spirit of sacrifice is great!”  Gen. Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department said that “Comrade Choe Yong Rim will address the problems of the industry and farming sectors, while Comrade Jang Song Taek and I will handle issues in the military, so you (KJU) have nothing to worry about.”

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One Response to “JST on Political Bureau Presidium?”

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  1. North Korea: Witness to Transformation | Family Politics: the (Further) Rise of Jang Song Thaek - 01/16/2013

    [...] uncle—should put them to rest. According to a typically-careful analysis by Michael Madden at North Korea Leadership Watch, Jang has apparently been appointed to the Politburo Presidium. The information comes from the [...]

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