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DPRK Premier Visits Sinp’o Open Sea Fishery Complex

28 Jun
DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju tours the Sinp'o Pelagic Fishery Complex (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju tours the Sinp’o Pelagic Fishing Complex (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 27 June (Friday) that Premier Pak Pong Ju (Pak Pong-chu) visited the Sinp’o Pelagic (open sea) Fishing Complex in South Hamgyo’ng Province.  He toured the fishing complex’s vessels and viewed its equipment.  According to KCNA he ” encouraged fishermen, firmly determined to bring about great innovations in the pelagic fishing this year by carrying forward the heroic fighting spirit of the preceding generation.”  After his tour he held a meeting with fishery officials based on the DPRK’s east coast.  The meeting “discussed the issue of setting a model in the east coastal area and generalizing it on the basis of the analysis of the production foundation and potentials of the fishery stations in North and South Hamgyo’ng and Kangwo’n provinces.”  The meeting “took measures to improve the living standard of fishermen and simultaneously push forward pelagic and offshore fishing including the issues modernizing fishing boats, bringing dredge of wharves and repair of breakwater to a normal footing and satisfactorily ensuring electricity and spare parts needed for repairing fishing boats.”  Pak Pong Ju “called upon the fishery complex to make big fish hauls,” according to KCNA.

Kim Jong Un Visits Masik Pass Ski Resort Construction

2 Nov
Kim Jong Un tours the construction of the Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo'ng Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un tours the construction of the Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo’ng Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 2 November (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the construction of the Masik Pass Ski Resort.  Attending the visit were VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Lt. Gen. Ryom Chol Song, Hwang Pyong So, Kim Tong Hwa, Hyong Yong Chil, Ma Won Chun and Maj. Gen. Jo Nam Jin.  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to a KPA Navy Cemetery.

Returing for his  third trip to Masik Passk Ski Resort since construction began, Kim Jong Un’s first stop was at the hotel where he  “wassatisfied to see the hotel built to match the mountainous scenery and natural environment as required by the design ratified by the Party” and “appreciated the hotel as a flawless structure and model building as it fully meets the requirements of the Party’s idea of architectural beauty which calls for designing and constructing all construction objects according to their features and purposes.”  At a sitting area, he praised “the soldier-builders for building well the resting places as intended by the Party” and, according to KCNA, he “instructed them to build all resting places to be impeccable so that the visitors to the ski resort may not only train their physical bodies but have a pleasant rest.”

View of the construction of the Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo'n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of the construction of the Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo’n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un and senior Korean Workers' Party and Korean People's Army officials tour Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo'n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un and senior Korean Workers’ Party and Korean People’s Army officials tour Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo’n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un toured the ski trails and said “it is nice to see the skiing courses constructed by builders as required by the construction method and the turf planted with good care.” He also said that “the construction of the ski resort conceived and initiated by the Party is near its completion” and “that this is entirely ascribable to the merits of the soldier-builders and a shining fruition of their heroic feats.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un remarked that “he was quite right when he assigned the project for building the ski resort to the Korean People’s Army and it carried out a great nature-remaking project and the new watchword the  ‘speed on Masik Pass’ is shining more brilliantly thanks to the KPA” and “that the WPK is proud and honored to have such army.”

Referring to the KPA’s contribution in the development of the country’s sports economy Kim Jong Un said that the “the KPA has done a lot of work for the people this year including the construction of Munsu Water Park and Mirim Riding Club and “that when the ski resort on Masik Pass is completed, more cheerful laughter of people will be heard from the area of Masik Pass.”  He also said that “all participants in the construction are patriots and the feats performed by them would go down in the history of building a rich and powerful country” and “indicated tasks to be fulfilled for building the ski resort as the world’s best one and ways to do so.”

Mongolia, DPRK Sign Economic Agreements

29 Oct
Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga (L) shakes hands with DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam (R) after signing an economic cooperation agreement at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga (L) shakes hands with DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam (R) after signing an economic cooperation agreement at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Following a meeting of senior DPRK and Mongolian government officials at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October (Monday), the two countries signed two economic agreements, along with a technology exchange agreement.  DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam and Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga signed a cooperation agreement on industry and agriculture.  Chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries Kim Jong Suk and Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Luvsanvandan Bold signed a cooperation agreement on cultural and sports exchanges and tourism.  DPRK Vice Minister of Land and Marine Transport Kwak Il Ryong and  Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold signed an agreement on cooperation in the road and transportation sectors.  Jong Song Chang Deputy (vice) General Director of the DPRK General Bureau of Software Industry and Ambassador Ganbold on behalf of theMongolian IT, Post and Telecommunications Bureau signed a 2013 to 2015 technology exchange agreement “in the field of IT.”

DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam and Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga sign an economic cooperation agreement in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA screen grabs).

DPRK Minister of Foreign Trade Ri Ryong Nam and Mongolian Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga sign an economic cooperation agreement in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA screen grabs).

Chair of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries Kim Jong Suk and Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Luvsanvandan Bold sign an agreement on sports and cultural exchanges and tourism in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA screen grabs).

Chair of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries Kim Jong Suk and Mongolian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Luvsanvandan Bold sign an agreement on sports and cultural exchanges and tourism in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA screen grabs).

Deputy Director-General of the DPRK General Bureau Software Industry Jong Song Chang and Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold sign a technology exchange agreement effective from 2013 to 2015 in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA screen grabs).

Deputy Director-General of the DPRK General Bureau Software Industry Jong Song Chang and Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold sign a technology exchange agreement effective from 2013 to 2015 in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photos: KCNA screen grabs).

Mongolian President Arrives in Pyongyang and Meets with Kim Yong Nam

28 Oct
Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (L) shakes hands with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam (R) after arrving at Pyongyang Airport on 28 October 2013 for a four-day visit to the DPRK (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj (L) shakes hands with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam (R) after arrving at Pyongyang Airport on 28 October 2013 for a four-day visit to the DPRK (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a delegation of senior Mongolian government officials arrived in Pyongyang on 28 October (Monday) for a four-day visit ending on 31 October.  President Elbegdorj’s visit will commemorate the 65th anniversary of DPRK-Mongolian relations and lead to the expansion of the countries’ bilateral ties.  Greeting Elbegdorj at Pyongyang Airport were Kim Yong Nam (President of the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA]), Pak Ui Chun (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Ri Ryong Nam (Minister of Foreign Trade), Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (Vice Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff), Son Kwang Ho (Vice Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Kwang Il Ryong (Vice Minister of Land and Marine Transport), Hong Kyu (DPRK Ambassador to Mongolia), Kim Jin Bom (Vice Chairman of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and Chairman of the DPRK-Mongolia Friendship Association) and other DPRK officials.  Also greeting President Elbegjorj at the airport was Mongolian Ambassador to the DPRK Manibadrakh Ganbold.

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj reviews an honor guard of the KPA and Worker-Peasant Red Guards (L) and receives a floral bouquet after arriving in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj reviews an honor guard of the KPA and Worker-Peasant Red Guards (L) and receives a floral bouquet after arriving in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Elbegdorj was accompanied by his wife, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Luvsanvandan Bold, Minister of Industry and Agriculture Khaltmaa Battulga, Secretary General of the National Security Council Tsagaandari Enkhtuvshin, Chief of the General Staff of the Mongolian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Tserendejid Byambajav, Vice Minister of Road Transport Khabshai Erjan,  Presidential National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor Lundeg Purevsuren, Presidential Advisor for Mass Liaison and Mass Policy Amgalanbaatar Ganbaatar,  Secretary of State for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Pureb Altangerel and other Mongolian government officials.  During the welcoming ceremony for the Mongolian delegation, President Elbegdorj reviewed an honor guard consisting of the KPA’s three service branches and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards.  Representatives of DPRK women workers and children of Mongolian diplomatic staff stationed in the DPRK presented floral bouquets to Elbegdorj and his wife.

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a senior Mongolian Government delegation (R) meet with Kim Yong Nam and senior DPRK officials at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj and a senior Mongolian Government delegation (R) meet with Kim Yong Nam and senior DPRK officials at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang on 28 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA)

Following the delegation’s arrival, Elbegdorj and senior Mongolian officials met with SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang.  Attending the meeting from the DPRK were Pak Ui Chun, Ri Jong Mu (Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Kim Jong Suk (Chairwoman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries), Pak Kil-yo’n (Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs), Kwang Il Ryong, Hong Kyu and other DPRK officials.  According to KCNA, “both sides exchanged views on the issue of boosting the bilateral relations of friendship and other issues of mutual concern” during the meeting and the “talks took place in a friendly atmosphere.”

Kim Jong Un Visits Masik Pass Ski Resort Construction and Inspects KPA Unit #3404

18 Aug
Kim Jong Un (3rd L) visits the construction of the Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo'n Province.  Also seen in attendance are VMar Choe Ryong Hae (4th R), Ma Won Chun (3rd R) and Col. Gen. Kim Yong Chol (2nd R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (3rd L) visits the construction of the Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo’n Province. Also seen in attendance are VMar Choe Ryong Hae (4th R), Ma Won Chun (3rd R) and Col. Gen. Kim Yong Chol (2nd R) (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

DPRK state media reported on 17 August (Saturday) that Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the construction of the Masik Pass (Masingnyo’ng) Ski Resort and inspected Korean People’s Army [KPA] Unit 3404.  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his attendance at a men’s soccer game in Pyongyang on 14 August.

Kim Jong Un’s first visit was to the construction of the Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo’n Province.  Among those attending his visit to the construction were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Pak Tae Song (Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Department Deputy [vice] Director), Hwang Pyong So (Deputy Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), Kim Pyong Ho (Deputy Director of the KWP Propaganda and Agitation Department), Ma Won Chun (KWP Department Deputy Director and a leading party construction boss), Col. Gen. Jon Chang Bok (1st Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Col. Gen. Kim Yong Chol (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff and Chief of the Reconnaissance General Bureau) and Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff).  According to a 9 August Rodong Sinmun editorial “the soldier builders and combatants of various units, who embraced the historic written appeal of the respected and beloved Marshal Kim Jong Un and increased the speed of general construction by more than two times by rising up in greater effort, successfully completed construction of the framework for large buildings and dozens of employee residences and actively pushed forward interior and exterior plaster work on all projects in July, when the deeply meaningful War Victory Day is observed, “that the “success of the soldier builders and combatants of various units who took part in the Masingnyo’ng Ski Resort construction and rapidly accelerated and completed building framework construction for approximately 20 projects while overcoming rugged mountainous topography and the unfavorable weather conditions of the monsoon season is a precious outcome of the spirit of do-or-die implementation in our army and people, who ride the swift steed of the leap that the respected and beloved marshal bestowed and dash like a gale wind toward the pinnacle of victory” and that “even in weather conditions of heavy rainfall, construction unit commanders and combatants created the great innovation of executing overwhelming construction tasks far ahead of schedule by powerfully igniting the flame of the blitzkrieg, the multi-dimensional war.”

View of a hotel under construction at Masik Pass ski resort in Kangwo'n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of a hotel under construction at Masik Pass ski resort in Kangwo’n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

A view of ski slopes under development at Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo'n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

A view of ski slopes under development at Masik Pass Ski Resort in Kangwo’n Province (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

After arriving at the ski resort’s construction, Kim Jong Un was given a progress report and “expressed his great satisfaction over the fact that the soldier-builders and members of shock brigades of various units have wound up the frame assembling of more than 20 structures by pushing forward it at a high speed despite rough terrains and bad weather in rainy season.”  According to KCNA he said that “a breakthrough has been made towards the successful construction of the ski resort” and added “it is a miracle which can be worked only by service personnel and people of the DPRK who are the fighters ready to flatten any mountain and empty even a sea in response to an order or instruction of the party.”

He toured the construction of a hotel, a guesthouse, service facilities and skate park.  Whilst touring the hotel, according to KCNA, “he underscored the need to build all floors and aspects of construction to suit the features of the mountainous area and match its natural environment.”  He was briefed about the installation of a ski lift and said “to step up it so that skiers may use it up to the peak of Taehwa Hill more than 1 360 m (4, 462 feet) above the sea level from the coming winter.”  Kim Jong Un noted that the Masik Pass and it surrounding area had “undergone a dramatic change when comparing it with what he saw on May 26″ and “highly appreciated the world-startling labor feats the builders have performed in the construction.”  According to KCNA he “called for further rounding off the skiing courses and carrying out without fail daily quotas for each process of the projects including hotel, service buildings, lodging quarters and cableway service” and “urged the Cabinet, ministries and national institutions to take thorough measures for supplying necessary materials. He also called on the factories and enterprises in charge of building materials and equipment to implement their tasks without fail.”  He said that “the ski resort is a monumental edifice of eternal value to be used by the people even in the distant future, while enjoying wealth and prosperity under socialism, and it is also one of the icons of a highly civilized nation” and reiterated “the need for the builders to ensure the construction at the highest level so that they may be responsible for its safety and guarantee its absolute quality for all eternity.”  Kim Jong Un also “called on the builders to construct a world-class ski resort and provide the people, youth and children with a more civilized and happier living conditions so that cheerful laughter under socialism and loud shouts of hurrah for the WPK may be heard from the area of Masik Pass.”

2013-08-18-02-01

Kim Jong Un poses for a commemorative photo with officers and service members of KPA Unit #3404 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un also inspected KPA Unit #3404.  He was accompanied by VMar Choe Ryong Hae, Director of the KPA General Political Department.  After arriving at the unit, he received a salute from members of its command element.  He toured a revolutionary historical exhibition on his grandfather, late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng), and his father, late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il).  He learned about the history of KPA Unit #3404, viewing historic artifacts and information and “looked back with deep emotion on the history of the unit’s development.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un “highly praised the unit for achieving many successes through a dynamic drive for making combat preparations and bolstering up fighting capability, true to the noble intentions of the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.”  He also examined and appreciated inventions and products of KPA Unit #3404.  Prior to attending a commemorative photo session with officers and service members, Kim Jong Un “expressed expectation and belief that servicepersons of the unit would successfully discharge their mission and role as standard-bearers and shock brigade upholding the Military-First (So’ngun) politics of the party.”

A New Party Economic Department?

17 Jul
A 15 April 2012 satellite image shows the Korean Workers' Party Central Committee Office Complex #1 in central Pyongyang.  RFA, according to anonymous sources, reports that a new Department of the Economy was established in June 2013 to manage economic policies and personnel.  The departments mentioned in this posting that are seen in this image are: the Organization Guidance Department (1) the Propaganda and Agitation Department (2) the Administration Department (7), Economic Policy Control and Finance and Planning Departments (14), Office #39 (15), Office #38 (16), the Machine-Building Industry Department (17), the Light Industry Department (19) and the Finance and Accounting Department (20) (Photo: Digital Globe).

A 15 April 2012 satellite image shows the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee Office Complex #1 in central Pyongyang. RFA, according to anonymous sources, reports that a new Department of the Economy was established in June 2013 to manage economic policies and personnel. The departments mentioned in this posting seen in this image are: the Organization Guidance Department (1) the Propaganda and Agitation Department (3) the Administration Department (7), Economic Policy Control and Finance and Planning Departments (14), Office #39 (15), Office #38 (16), the Machine-Building Industry Department (17), the Light Industry Department (19) and the Finance and Accounting Department (20) (Photo: Digital Globe).

Radio Free Asia, citing two anonymous sources based in Chagang and Yanggang Provinces, reports that the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] created a new department in June within the Central Committee to manage economic, financial and trace policies.  The so-called Department of Economy is part of the central party apparatus in Pyongyang and has branch departments within the KWP’s Provincial Committee system.  The department is rumored to be an eventual merger of several of the KWP Central Committee’s economy and planning related departments.  According to RFA the Department of Economy now has sole control over the appointment of economic and finance officials to the DPRK Cabinet and has the power to create, abolish or consolidate domestic and foreign trading corporations.  The new department also has a broad license in formulating and implementing economic policy.  Concentrating nearly all policy and personnel control into one central party department may reduce bureaucratic encroachment among party and government agencies, corruption (through the establishment of fraudulent trading companies and misappropriation of funds and resources) and prevent well-connected senior cadres using their personal relationships with the center to bypass formal control channels in establishing  trading companies.

One RFA source links the department to an economic restructuring policy announced internally in June 2012 (the so-called 28 June Policy) claims that “establishing the Department of Economy is related to the so-called ‘reformed economic management system’. . .it means the Party never wants to lose its control over the economy, even though the ‘reformed system’ takes place everywhere.”  The word “reform,” said with a positive connotation, is no longer the conversation-stopper among DPRK elites and policymakers that it used to be.  Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) used the word “reform” in a long public letter published in Rodong Sinmun on 1 May 2013.  The letter (which can be read in its entirety with a textual note at NCNK) was a message of thanks to DPRK citizens and security personnel who contributed to the renovation of the park and grounds around the Ku’msusan Memorial Palace of the Sun.  Kim Jong Un wrote that “the functionaries and the working people of the cabinet and its committees, ministries, central organs, the City of Pyongyang, and each of the provincial people’s committees should not only make great reform and a great leap in the whole range of the economy, including the four leading sectors, which are the locomotives of the people’s economy, and agriculture and light industry, which are the primary assault targets of the construction of an economically powerful state, but actively contribute to achieving a decisive turnabout in the improvement of the people’s living standards.”

It is not clear which Party Central Committee (central party) departments will be consolidated into the Department of Economy.  Looking at the relevant departments in the Central Committee apparatus the Department of Economy could absorb the Finance and Planning Department, the Light Industry Department and the Economic Policy Inspection Department.  One might put question marks in the marginalia for two other economy-related central party departments, the Finance and Accounting Department and the Machine-Building Industry Department.

The Finance and Accounting Department manages party finances and the party economy (sometimes called the Third Economy).  It includes Office #39 and Office #38 (poetically called “Kim Jong Il’s safe).  It is possible that the offices and sections that manage the Kim Family’s finances and household(s) purchases have been transferred into the DPRK National Defense Commission Secretariat, where Kim Jong Un established his executive office (his Personal Secretariat).  Other offices and sections managing non-Kim party finances and resources may become part of the Department of Economy.

The Machine-Building Industry Department [MBID] (formerly known as the Munitions Industry Department) manages the DPRK’s conventional and advanced weapons programs and machine-building and machine tools industries.  The Second Economy Commission (arms manufacturers and producers) and the Second Academy of Natural Science (arms science and technology R &D) are nominally part of the MBID.   The MBID might be exempt from merging into the Department of the Economy.  However, another possibility is that the MBID’s various offices, sections and agencies involved in conventional and advanced weapons may be formally transferred to the National Defense Commission (which some Pyongyang watchers have long suspected).  Offices and sections linked to the Ministry of Machine Building and the civilian economy might then be absorbed by the Department of the Economy.

According to RFA‘s sources the Department of Economy is expected to become one of the Party Central Committee’s control tower departments, along with the Organization Guidance Department [OGD], the Propaganda and Agitation Department and the Administration Department.  One source anticipated that the Department of Economy could become “the strongest department in the Party,” which could incite a power competition among different patronage networks and state, party and army organizations seeking to establish businesses

Personalities and Power Dynamics

There have been two occasions during the past 20 years in which the Party Central Committee consolidated its economy and trade related departments.  Around 1993 the Light Industry Department and the Planning Department were folded into the Economic Policy Inspection Department under one director, Kim Kyong Hui (sister of late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il and paternal aunt of current leader Kim Jong Un).  This arrangement lasted until 1997 and the Light Industry Department and the Planning Department reverted to individual departments.

In 2005 the KWP Agricultural Department, the Planning Department and the Finance Department were consolidated into the Finance and Planning Department (a.k.a. Financial Planning Department).  Then-Chairman of the State Planning Commission Pak Nam Gi migrated from the semi-autonomous planning commission in the DPRK Cabinet into the central party to become director of the Finance and Planning Department.  In addition to holding a portfolio for economic affairs, Pak supervised a restructuring process in the central party in which numerous cadres and staff members were made redundant or migrated to the National Defense Commission.  This may have drawn a target on Pak’s back, long before the 2009 currency reform, and in February 2010 Pak was executed by firing squad.  In June 2010 Pak was formally replaced by Hong Sok Hyong.  During the 3rd Party Conference on 28 September 2010 Hong was elected to the KWP Secretariat and reappointed director of the Planning and Finance Department.  Hong was later removed from office in June 2011, having headed Finance and Planning for only a year.  His eventual replacement, Kwak Pom Gi was later appointed to concurrent positions on the KWP Secretariat and director of the Finance and Planning Department during the 4th Party Conference in April 2012.

Hong Sok Hyong (1) served as Director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department from June 2010 to June 2011.  Pak Nam Gi (2) oversaw the establishment of the KWP Finance and Planning Department and served as its director from 2005 to 2010.  They are seen attending a guidance tour with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in North Hamgyo'ng Province in the summer of 2009 (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/KCNA file photo).

Hong Sok Hyong (1) served as Director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department from June 2010 to June 2011. Pak Nam Gi (2) oversaw the establishment of the KWP Finance and Planning Department and served as its director from 2005 to 2010. They are seen attending a guidance tour with late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in North Hamgyo’ng Province in the summer of 2009 (Photo: NK Leadership Watch/KCNA file photo).

Current director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department Kwak Pom Gi (L), KWP Secretary and department director Kim Kyong Hui (C) and current DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (R).  From 1993 to 1997 Pak served as Madame Kim's principal deputy when three KWP Central Committee economic departments were consolidated.  This consolidation may serve as the model for the recently established Department of Economy (Photos: KCNA/Rodong Sinmun).

Current director of the KWP Finance and Planning Department Kwak Pom Gi (L), KWP Secretary and department director Kim Kyong Hui (C) and current DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (R). From 1993 to 1997 Pak served as Madame Kim’s principal deputy when three KWP Central Committee economic departments were consolidated. This consolidation may serve as the model for the recently established Department of Economy (Photos: KCNA/Rodong Sinmun).

Given the violent end one director met and the quick turnover between the two succeeding directors, the Finance and Planning Department may be a fundamentally flawed institution.   It might have proven ineffective in fulfilling its mission or was a buzzing hive of corruption.  Kwak Pom Gi appears to be in good standing in the leadership.  He was elected the Chairman of the Budget Committee of the DPRK’s unicameral legislature, the Supreme People’s Assembly in September 2012 and his last observed appearance was his attendance at Kim Jong Un’s visit to the renovation of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in July 2013.  It is possible that Kwak is a key player in the rumored establishment of the Department of Economy.

Another mover and shaker in the creation of the Department of Economy is most likely DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju.  Reappointed Premier in April 2013, Pak has taken over a DPRK Cabinet with greater involvement in the country’s economy.  In a report on the DPRK Cabinet’s 2nd plenary meeting in July 2013 there was a call to “further enhancing the responsibility and role of the cabinet and the functionaries of economic guidance organs” and the Cabinet meeting “emphasized the need to resolve all issues that arise in the economic work by concentrating them on the cabinet according to the demands of the cabinet system, the system centered on the cabinet; the need to establish a strong discipline and order of unconditionally executing the cabinet’s decisions and instructions; and the need for economic guidance functionaries to make sure that leaps and innovations take place in every sentry post, while taking the lead in guiding the work of their respective sectors and units.”  This may indicate that the Department of Economy will provide the political backing for the Cabinet’s role in economic affairs.  With Pak Pong Ju as the country’s premier, the new party department and the DPRK Government may work shoulder to shoulder.  Pak Pong Ju, it should be noted, was Kim Kyong Hui’s principal deputy in the Economic Policy Inspection Department from 1993 to 1997 during a previous consolidation of three Party Central Committee economic departments.

DPRK Cabinet Holds Second Plenum

16 Jul
DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (1) and DPRK Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol (2), seen touring a KPA livestock breeding facility in May 2013, delivered the reports at the DPRK Cabinet's second plenary meeting held on an disclosed date in July 2013 (Photo: KCNA file photo).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju (1) and DPRK Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol (2), seen touring a KPA livestock breeding facility in May 2013, delivered the reports at the DPRK Cabinet’s second plenary meeting held on an disclosed date in July 2013 (Photo: KCNA file photo).

DPRK state media reported on 13 July (Saturday) that the DPRK Cabinet held its second plenary meeting (plenum) in 2013.  Neither Korean nor English news items on the Cabinet meeting disclosed the date (KCNA reported on 15 July [Monday] that the meeting was “held recently”) of the plenary session.  Attending the meeting were DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju and Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol, “senior functionaries of the organs under direct control of the cabinet; directors of management bureaus; chairman of provincial, municipal, and country people’s committees; chairmen of provincial rural economic committees; chairman of provincial district planning committees; directors of provincial and daily necessities industrial management bureaus” and attending as observers were “managers of major plants and enterprises.”

The first agenda item at the Cabinet meeting was “death defyingly implementing the militant tasks set forth in respected and beloved Comrade Kim Jong Un’s historic letter of appeal ‘Let Us Usher in a New Heyday on All Fronts of Socialist Construction by Creating the Masikryo’ng [Masik Pass] Speed.”  Premier Pak Pong Ju delivered a report on the first agenda item.  The Cabinet meeting’s second agenda item was a report on “the fulfillment of the people’s economic plan in the first half of the year and on measures for successfully fulfilling the people’s economic plan in the third and fourth quarters.  Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol reported on the second agenda item.

After the reports were delivered, speeches were delivered by the plenary meeting’s participants.  According to KCNA, Pak, Ro and the meeting’s speakers said “soldier-builders on Masik Pass are pushing forward several projects in a three dimensional way and breaking levels and records set in the past amid a high- pitched drive for creating the ‘speed on Masik Pass,'” that “reclaimers of the Sep’o tableland made shining achievements with the goal to reclaim more than 50 000 hectares of grassland and finish the construction of stock-breeding management center within this year” and that “fresh successes and innovations are being made in the construction of major projects including the construction of the Ch’o’ngch’o’ngang Power Stations in Tiers and apartment houses for scientists.”  According to Minju Joson, all participants of the expanded meeting of the cabinet plenary session renewed their firm resolve to achieve great successes in this meaningful year’s economic work by thoroughly implementing the militant tasks set forth in the respected and beloved marshal’s New Year Address and historic letter of appeal.”

KCNA also reported that the meeting’s speakers noted that “unprecedented production swing is being effected in the different sectors of the national economy amid the efforts to carry out the tasks advanced by Marshal Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address and appeal” and said “the service personnel and people of the DPRK are faced with the heavy yet responsible tasks to usher in a new heyday on all fronts of socialist construction by working hard to create the “speed on Masik Pass” in hearty response to the historic appeal made by the Marshal while carrying through the tasks laid out in his New Year Address.”  The meeting’s reporters and speakers also said that “in the midst of a hot wind of productive upsurges fiercely sweeping through all sectors of the people’s economy, including light industry and agriculture — the main fronts of this year’s economic construction — and the four leading sectors, the Ministry of Coal Industry, the Ministry of Machine Industry, and many other units overfulfilled the people’s economic plan in the first half of the year, and brilliant success was achieved particularly in fulfilling the June people’s economic plan through the vigorous struggle of the functionaries and working people of various sectors of the people’s economy who rose up vigorously, holding high the respected and beloved marshal’s historic letter of appeal” and that “the production of key industrial products increased amid a struggle to fulfill the people’s economic plan by each index during the first half of the year.”

The Cabinet plenary meeting’s speakers and debate participants “unanimously emphasized that all these achievements are the results of the wise leadership of the respected and beloved marshal, who clearly indicated the direction and ways of doing the economic work in this meaningful year’s New Year Address, led various sectors of the people’s economy by the hand every step of the way in the course of giving them on-the-spot guidance despite being so busy with leading the military-first revolution, and roused millions of soldiers and people to achieve great innovation and great leap by issuing his historic letter of appeal.”  In the official report of the Cabinet meeting,  Minju Joson quoted Kim Jong Un’s remark that “it is our party’s intention and determination to raise a hot wind of great innovation and great leap throughout the country by following and learning from the indomitable fighting spirit and fighting traits displayed by soldiers in the construction of the Masik Pass Skiing Ground.”  According to KCNA after the reports, speeches and debates the DPRK Cabinet “adopted a relevant decision.”

The DPRK Cabinet resolved that “firm priority should be given to the equipment and materials needed for construction over carrying out construction work and should be responsibly supplied so that the Masik Pass soldier-builders can finish building the Masik Pass Skiing Ground within this year as intended by the respected and beloved marshal.”  To that end the Cabinet instructed that “the building materials, metal, and forestry industrial sectors and other sectors should supply cement, steel materials, logs, and other materials needed for construction in a timely manner, and the machine industrial sector and other units should responsibly fulfill the tasks of supplying equipment by meticulously carrying out the production organization and command, and support the construction both materially and morally.”

The DPRK Cabinet also resolved that using the Masik Pass Skiing Ground workers as model, “important construction projects should be further accelerated, including the Sep’o tableland reclamation battle, the construction of the terraced Ch’o’ngch’o’n River Power Plant, Mt Paektu Military-First Youth Power Plant, and Wo’nsan Army-People Power Plant, the construction of Munsu Wading Pool, and the reconstruction and repair of the sports village in Ch’o’ngch’un Street” and that “relevant units should carry out all construction work strictly in accordance with the requirements of technical regulations and standard construction methods and decisively reinforce the struggle to improve the construction quality and construction supervision work, thereby erecting all buildings and other structures at the best level as monumental creations of the times, and supply units should unconditionally give priority to supplying the building materials over carrying out construction work.”

The Cabinet meeting also “presented a task of fiercely raising fiery winds of great innovation and great leap in the leading sectors of the the people’s economy above all else.”  The coal industry “should give firm priority to prospecting and tunneling, expand coal production capacity by accelerating the development of new coal mines and pits, and increase coal production by actively introducing advanced coal mining methods.”  The electrical power industry “should concentrate its efforts on operating existing power generating facilities at full capacity and systematically increase electric power production by mapping out measures for increasing the efficiency of power generating facilities.”

In order for “efforts. . .into shoring up” the metal industry the electric power and coal industries, in cooperation with the Ministry of Railways “should unconditionally produce and supply the electric power and coal needed for production at iron works and steel mills according to plan and channel efforts to materials transport.”  The metal industry should also “shold fast to the chuch’e-orientation of metal industry as a lifeline and put spurs to the production of steel materials.”   The Ministry of Railways should also “further increase the transport capacity by intensifying the production and repair of locomotives and freight cars, and meticulously carry out the transport organization and command to establish a strong discipline like the army, thereby further increasing the railway cargo transport.”

The DPRK Cabinet’s plenary meeting also “placed key emphasis on the need to bring about productive upsurges in light industrial and agricultural sectors — the main fronts of this year’s economic construction.”  The country’s light industries “should adhere to the normalization of the people’s consumer goods production as a priority task and operate the modernized people’s consumer goods production bases at full capacity by meticulously carrying out the work for the supply of raw materials and other materials, and make a strong drive for improving the product quality, thereby making sure that more consumer goods are supplied to the people in this meaningful year, while also further accelerating the technical reconstruction of light industrial plants.”

With regard to food production, the DPRK’s agricultural sector “should do the fertilization and management of crops thoroughly in line with the demands of the chuch’e-based farming method without losing the momentum created in finishing the rice planting and sowing the seeds of field crops at the right time, thereby fulfilling this year’s grain production goal without fail” and the country’s fishing industry should “increase fish production by harmoniously combining deep-sea fishing and inshore fishing and expand sea farming, while more firmly consolidating the material and technical foundation of the fisheries industry.”

The cabinet meeting called for the machine-building industry to “make good use of the existing production foundations to produce more machine tools, vehicles, tractors, and various other machine products, and actively develop new modern machine products”, for the chemical industries to “increase the fertilizer production and put spurs to the production of synthetic fibers and synthetic resins, thus thoroughly achieving localization of light industrial raw materials,” for the building materials and forestry industries to “normalize the production at existing cement factories and increase log production” and for mining industries to “decisive increase the production of various minerals and processed products.”

On the matter of science and technology the DPRK Cabinet “indicated the need for all sectors and units of the people’s economy to vigorously carry out the battle of breaking through the ultra-cutting edge, holding high the party’s intention” saying that it “is necessary to decisively improve and reinforce guidance over the work of science and technology in line with the demands of the development of reality, firmly organize specialized scientific research institutes, reinforce the research and development activities of universities, and decisively increase the technology and product development capabilities of factories and enterprises” and that “investment in the work of science and technology should be increased, and the social traits of attaching importance to science and technology should be established in the whole country, while firmly adhering to the work for guaranteeing the working and living conditions of scientists and technicians.”  The Cabinet also “set forth important tasks that arise in thoroughly implementing the party’s strategic line on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of a nuclear armed forces,” but did not disclose what those “tasks” were.

The Cabinet plenary meeting also addressed “issues of provincial, municipal, and county people’s committees revitalizing local industries according to the characteristics of their local areas; vigorously waging a struggle to develop all cultural fields, including education, public health, literature and art, and sports, to the level of an advanced civilized country; and all functionaries and working people inscribing Kim Jong Il patriotism deep on their hearts and sprucing up their villages, streets, and workplaces and parks and pleasure grounds in line with the demands of the military-first era and normalizing their management and operation, thereby bringing about a turnabout in the work for putting a new face on the land in this meaningful year.”

The DPRK Cabinet also reiterated its role “for further enhancing the responsibility and role of the cabinet and the functionaries of economic guidance organs” and “emphasized the need to resolve all issues that arise in the economic work by concentrating them on the cabinet according to the demands of the cabinet system, the system centered on the cabinet; the need to establish a strong discipline and order of unconditionally executing the cabinet’s decisions and instructions; and the need for economic guidance functionaries to make sure that leaps and innovations take place in every sentry post, while taking the lead in guiding the work of their respective sectors and units.”

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