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Two Sports Economy Projects Completed

7 Oct
An apartment complex constructed for DPRK athletes with judoka An Kum Ae in front of her apartment  (top) and the ceremony open the renovated Pyongyang Indoor Stadium (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

An apartment complex constructed for DPRK athletes with judoka An Kum Ae in front of her apartment (top) and the 3 October 2013 ceremony open the renovated Pyongyang Indoor Stadium (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Two construction projects linked to the DPRK’s policy of promoting sports and physical culture were opened in Pyongyang on 3 October (Thursday).  A ceremony was held on Thursday marking the opening of the renovation of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium, a venue for political meetings, commemorative photo-ops and athletic competitions  located on a bank of the Pot’ong River in the city centre next to the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Central Committee Office Complex.  Attending the ceremony were Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA]), Yang Hyong Sop (Vice President of the SPA Presidium), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), Ro Tu Chol (DPRK Vice Premier and Chairman of the State Planning Commission), Kim Yong Jin (DPRK Vice Premier), Kim In Sik (DPRK Vice Premier and Chairman of the Capital City Construction Commission), Ri Yong Su (Director of the KWP Workers’ Organizations Department), Ri Jong Mu (Minister of Physical Culture and Sports), Col. Gen. O Kum Chol (Vice Chief of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Staff) along with “exemplary construction workers who took part in the remodeling construction; functionaries and employees of the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports and Pyongyang Indoor Stadium; players, coaches, and members of the cheering squad taking part in the National Sports Contest of Provincial Teams; (and) working people of Pyongyang and the youth and students.”

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju speaks at a ceremony reopening the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium after renovations on 3 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA screen grab).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju speaks at a ceremony reopening the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium after renovations on 3 October 2013 (Photo: KCNA screen grab).

Pak Pong Ju delivered a speech in which he said that “Supreme leader Kim Jong Un unfolded a plan for giving a facelift to the stadium, which is associated with the leadership feats of President Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) and contributed to the development of the country’s sports and the cultural and emotional life of the working people, as required by the new century, and wisely led the work to do so.”  According to KCNA Pak also “called on all officials and other people to pay deeper social attention to the sports, raise the hot wind of sports across the country through mass sports activities and thus glorify forever the undying feats of the WPK which has provided the people with the best base for sports and cultural life. ”  After the ceremony, participants toured the stadium and watched the Provincial Teams’ National Sports Contest.

In east Pyongyang, at the Central Youth Hall, on 3 October a ceremony was held at which DPRK athletes were given residence certificates to live in a recently constructed apartment complex in the Pyongyang’s Pot’onggang District.  Attending the ceremony were VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the KPA General Political Department), Kim Ki Nam, External Construction Guidance Bureau officials and athletes receiving apartments.  In his speech at the ceremony Kim Ki Nam said that “the houses reflectMarshal Kim Jong Un’s great expectation that the sportspersons will display ardent enthusiasms and faithfully uphold the WPK’s idea on turning the DPRK into a sports power” and he “stressed the need for officials in the sports field, players and coaches to make contributions to demonstrating the dignity and honor of Military-First (So’ngun) Korea with gold medals.”  According to KCNA the athletes’ apartments have”several living rooms, a kitchen, a washroom, a toilet, etc. and are furnished with household goods and high-class furniture. ”  On 5 October (Saturday), members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission visited the athletes and their families in the apartments.  They brought housewarming gifts and “told the sportspersons to give fuller play to the might of Kim Il Sung’s nation and Kim Jong Il’s Korea by winning gold medals in international games in the future and thus encourage all the service personnel and people dynamically advancing towards a final victory in the building of a thriving socialist nation.”

Members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission visit athletes’ apartments on 5 October 2013.

Director of the KWP Machine-Building Industry Department, National Defense Commission Member and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Ju Kyu Chang (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Director of the KWP Machine-Building Industry Department, National Defense Commission Member and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Ju Kyu Chang (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Mun Kyong Dok (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Mun Kyong Dok (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kwak Pom Gi (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kwak Pom Gi (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the International Affairs Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim Yong Il (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the International Affairs Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim Yong Il (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim Yang Gon (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim Yang Gon (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary, National Defense Commission Member and KWP Political Bureau Member Pak To Chun (Photo: KCTV screengrabs).

KWP Secretary, National Defense Commission Member and KWP Political Bureau Member Pak To Chun (Photo: KCTV screengrabs).

KWP Secretary, Supreme People's Assembly Chairman and KWP Political Bureau Member Choe T'ae-pok (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary, Supreme People’s Assembly Chairman and KWP Political Bureau Member Choe T’ae-pok (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Cadres' Affairs Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim P'yo'ng-hae (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Cadres’ Affairs Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Kim P’yo’ng-hae (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

DPRK Vice Premier, State Planning Commission Chairman and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Ro Tu Chol (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

DPRK Vice Premier, State Planning Commission Chairman and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Ro Tu Chol (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department and KWP Political Bureau Member Kim Ki Nam (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department and KWP Political Bureau Member Kim Ki Nam (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Senior Deputy Director of the KWP Organization and Guidance Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Member Jo Yon Jun (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Senior Deputy Director of the KWP Organization and Guidance Department and KWP Political Bureau Alternate Member Jo Yon Jun (Photo: KCTV screen grab).

Wreath Laying Ceremonies Held to Mark 64th Anniversary of Kim Jong Suk’s Death

22 Sep
A floral wreath from Kim Jong Un at the memorial bust of his grandmother Kim Jong Suk at Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang on 22 September 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

A floral wreath from Kim Jong Un at the memorial bust of his grandmother Kim Jong Suk at Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang on 22 September 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

A floral wreath laying ceremony were held at the memorial bust of Kim Jong Suk (Kim Cho’ng-suk) at the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang on 22 September (Sunday) to mark the 64th anniversary of her death.  Similar wreath-laying ceremonies were held the same day in front of Kim Jong Suk statues in Hoeryo’ng, North Hamgyo’ng Province (her birth place) at the Kim Jong Suk Naval Academy in South Hamgyo’ng Province and the Kim Jong Suk General Military Academy.  Kim Jong Suk (1917-1949) was the first wife of late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and mother of late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) and current Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary Kim Kyong Hui.  Kim Jong Suk died in Pyongyang on 22 September 1949 due to complications from an extra-uterine pregnancy.

Attending the wreath laying ceremony at the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery were Kim Yong Nam (President of the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium), Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), along with other senior KWP, KPA and DPRK Government officials.  A floral wreath sent by Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) was delivered to the memorial bust, as well as wreath jointly sent by the KWP Central Committee, the SPA Presidium and the DPRK Cabinet.  Wreaths sent by the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, the Ministry of People’s Security and from “working people’s organizations, ministries, national institutions, KPA units, scientific, educational and media institutions, joint national organizations of the Korean Children’s Union, party and power bodies, factories and farms in Pyongyang” were also delivered.  According to KCNA, “participants paid silent tribute to her, recollecting her revolutionary life.”

Floral wreaths delivered to the memorial bust of Kim Jong Suk to mark the 64th anniversary of her death in Pyongyang on 22 September 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Floral wreaths delivered to the memorial bust of Kim Jong Suk to mark the 64th anniversary of her death in Pyongyang on 22 September 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Members of the DPRK central leadership visit Kim Jong Suk's memorial bust at Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang to mark her death anniversary on 22 September 2013.  Among those in attendance are: Gen. Kim Won Hong (L), Gen. O Kuk Ryol (2nd L), VMar Ri Yong Mu (3rd L), VMar Kim Yong Chun (4th L), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (5th L), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (6th L), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (7th L), Kim Yong Nam (8th L), Pak Pong Ju (9th L), Kim Ki Nam (10th L),  Choe Tae Bok (11th L), Pak To Chun (12th L) and Yang Hyong Sop (13th L) (Photo: KCNA screengrab).

Members of the DPRK central leadership visit Kim Jong Suk’s memorial bust at Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery in Pyongyang to mark her death anniversary on 22 September 2013. Among those in attendance are: Gen. Kim Won Hong (L), Gen. O Kuk Ryol (2nd L), VMar Ri Yong Mu (3rd L), VMar Kim Yong Chun (4th L), Gen. Jang Jong Nam (5th L), Gen. Ri Yong Gil (6th L), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (7th L), Kim Yong Nam (8th L), Pak Pong Ju (9th L), Kim Ki Nam (10th L), Choe Tae Bok (11th L), Pak To Chun (12th L) and Yang Hyong Sop (13th L) (Photo: KCNA screengrab).

Members of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League and Young Red Guards salute Kim Jong Suk's memorial bust in Pyongyang on 22 September 2013 (Photo: KCNA screengrab).

Members of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League and Young Red Guards salute Kim Jong Suk’s memorial bust in Pyongyang on 22 September 2013 (Photo: KCNA screengrab).

DPRK citizens pay their respects to the memorial bust of Kim Jong Suk, wife of late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung, on 22 September 2013 (Photo: KCNA screengrab).

DPRK citizens pay their respects to the memorial bust of Kim Jong Suk, wife of late DPRK President and founder Kim Il Sung, on 22 September 2013 (Photo: KCNA screengrab).

Kim Jong Suk's obituary (Photo: KCTV/NKLW archive photo).

Kim Jong Suk’s obituary (Photo: KCTV/NKLW archive photo).

Post and Telecom Workers Hold National Meeting

18 Sep
Members of the DPRK central leadership attend the national meeting of post and telecom workers at the 25 April House of Culture on 16 September 2013.  Seen in attendance (L-R) are: DPRK Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol, KWP Secretary Kwak Pom Gi, KWP Secretary Kim Ki Nam, DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju and Minister of the People's Armed Forces Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

Members of the DPRK central leadership attend the national meeting of post and telecom workers at the 25 April House of Culture on 16 September 2013. Seen in attendance (L-R) are: DPRK Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol, KWP Secretary Kwak Pom Gi, KWP Secretary Kim Ki Nam, DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju and Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

A national meeting of managers and workers in the DPRK’s post and telecommunications sector was held at the 25 April House of Culture in Pyongyang on 16 September (Monday).  Attending the meeting were DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju, Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary Kim Ki Nam, DPRK Vice Premier Jon Sung Hun, Chief KWP Provincial Committee Secretaries along with “officials of party and armed forces organs, the Cabinet, working people’s organizations, ministries, national institutions, party and power organs of provinces, cities and counties, exemplary personnel in posts and telecommunications service and officials of relevant units.”

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju reads a letter from DPRK supreme leader Kim Jong at a national meeting of post and telecom workers in Pyongyang on 16 September 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju reads a letter from DPRK supreme leader Kim Jong at a national meeting of post and telecom workers in Pyongyang on 16 September 2013 (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

DPRK  Vice Premier Jon Sung Hun reads the meeting's official report (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

DPRK Vice Premier Jon Sung Hun reads the meeting’s official report (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

View of participants at a national meeting of workers in the post and telecom sector, held at 25 April House of Culture in Pyongyang on 16 September 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs).

View of participants at a national meeting of workers in the post and telecom sector, held at 25 April House of Culture in Pyongyang on 16 September 2013 (Photos: KCTV screengrabs).

 

View of the leadership platform at the post and telecom workers' meeting in Pyongyang on 16 September 2013.  In this image are: Ju Kyu Chang, Ro Yu Chol, Kwak Pom Gi, Kim Ki Nam, Pak Pong Ju, Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Mun Kyong Dok and Gen. Choe Pu Il (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

View of the leadership platform at the post and telecom workers’ meeting in Pyongyang on 16 September 2013. In this image are: Ju Kyu Chang, Ro Yu Chol, Kwak Pom Gi, Kim Ki Nam, Pak Pong Ju, Gen. Jang Jong Nam, Mun Kyong Dok and Gen. Choe Pu Il (Photo: KCTV screengrab).

Pak Pong Ju read a letter by Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) “On Bringing About a Fresh Turn in Posts and Telecommunications” which said that “Generalissimos Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) and Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) advanced Chuch’e-oriented idea and theory concerning the posts and telecommunications service, indicated orientation and ways of modernizing it as required by the developing revolution and devoted themselves to its modernization” and clarified tasks and ways for the personnel in the posts and telecommunications service to preserve and glorify the immortal exploits of the Generalissimos for the development of Chuch’e-oriented posts and telecommunications and put the service on the world’s advanced level as early as possible by devotedly carrying out the WPK’s policy on posts and telecommunications.”  According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un’s letter also “called on all the participants to bring about a fresh turn in the service by successfully discharging their honorable duties and missions in the spirit of devotedly serving the country and people.”  Jon Sung Hun delivered the meeting’s report which “referred to the remarkable development made by the service thanks to the patriotic devotion and energetic leadership provided by the Generalissimos” and said that “the posts and telecommunications service has successfully performed its mission and role in the important work for building a thriving nation and improving the people’s living standard.”  A series of speakers followed the reading of the letter and report.

Kim Jong Un Attends Soccer Game Prior to Liberation Day

14 Aug
Kim Jong Un attends a men's football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot'onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013, one day ahead of Liberation Day (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un attends a men’s football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot’onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013, one day ahead of Liberation Day (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of a men's football (soccer) game between the Yongaksan and Pot'onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

View of a men’s football (soccer) game between the Yongaksan and Pot’onggang Teams at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August 2013 (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended a men’s football (soccer) game between the Ryongaksan and Pot’onggang teams at Kim Il Sung (Kim Il-so’ng) Stadium in Pyongyang on 14 August (Wednesday).  Also attending the game were Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Political Bureau members and alternates including Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Jang Song Taek (Vice Chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission, Chairman of the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission  and Director of the KWP Administration Department), Col. Gen. Jang Jong Nam (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Kyong Hui (KWP Secretary and Kim Jong Un’s aunt), Kim Ki Nam (KWP Secretary and Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly), Kang Sok Ju (DPRK Vice Premier), Gen. Kim Won Hong (Minister of State Security), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Director of International Affairs), Kim P’yong-hae (KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Director of the Finance and Planning Department), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), Ro Tu Chol (DPRK Vice Premier and Chairman of the State Planning Commission), Gen. Choe Pu Il (Minister of People’s Security) and Jo Yon Jun (Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department), along with “members of the State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, leading officials of the support organizations for various sports events, officials of the party, armed forces and power organs, working people’s organizations, the Cabinet, ministries and national institutions, those in the sports field, sportspersons, working people from all walks of life and school youth and children in the city.”  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to the construction of two apartment towers earmarked for Kim Il Sung University science faculty and researchers.

The game began with a kick-off from the Pot’onggang Team.  According to KCNA, “Ryongaksan Team made attempts to score goals through flank attack and short passes which helped a forward make strong kick 16 m from goal mouth, scoring the first goal at around 33rd minute of the first half” and “when the Pot’onggang Team had a chance of penalty kick, its forward scored a goal through his skillful kick at around 36th minute of the first half.”  The game was tied at halftime.  In the second half “back of the Ryongaksan Team made a smart heading, scoring a goal at around 11th minute of the second half.”  The Ryongaksan Team beat the Pot’onggang Team 2-1.  According to KCNA, after the game Kim Jong Un “expressed great satisfaction over the nice match and congratulated the players on their success.”

Senior DPRK Government and Party Officials Visit FLW Veterans’ Accomodations

25 Jul
Supreme People's Assembly Presidium President Kim Yong Nam (2nd L) visits Korean War veterans at thei guest house in Pyongyang on 24 July 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Supreme People’s Assembly Presidium President Kim Yong Nam (2nd L) visits Korean War veterans at thei guest house in Pyongyang on 24 July 2013 (Photo: KCNA).

Senior officials of the DPRK Government and the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] visited Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) veterans at their accommodations in Pyongyang on 24 July (Wednesday).   Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA] Presidium President Kim Yong Nam, DPRK Cabinet Premier Pak Pong Ju, KWP Secretary and SPA Chairman Choe Tae Bok, KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs Kim P’yo’ng-hae, KWP Secretary and Director of Finance and Planning Kwak Pom Gi, Senior Deputy [1st Vice] Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department Jo Yon Jun, DPR Vice Premier Kim Yong Jin and leading cadres of the Party Central Committee visited with the veterans who are participating in events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of the war’s active hostilities.  According to KCNA the senior government and party officials “congratulated the war veterans who performed immortal exploits by defeating the U.S. imperialists and honorably defending the freedom and independence of the country in the hard-fought battles decisive of the destiny of the country under the leadership of the party and leader. “

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.

Kim Jong Un Visits War Museum

11 Jul
Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials accompanying him during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials accompanying him during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: Rodong Sinmun).

Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) visited the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation (Korean) War Museum which will reopen soon.  He was accompanied by Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier) VMar Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department), Kim Ki Nam (Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Secretary of Propaganda and Agitation Department), Choe Tae Bok (KWP Secretary of Education and Science and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly), Kim Yong Il (KWP Secretary and Director of International Affairs), Kim Yang Gon (KWP Secretary and Director of the United Front Department), Kim P’yo’ng-hae (KWP Secretary and Director of Cadres’ Affairs), Kwak Pom Gi (KWP Secretary and Director of Planning and Finance), Mun Kyong Dok (Chief Secretary of the Pyongyang KWP Committee), Han Kwang Sang (Deputy [vice] Director of the KWP Finance and Accounting Department), Ri Ch’ae-il (Deputy [vice] Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department), Pak Tae Song (KWP Department Deputy [vice] Director) and Col. Gen. Jo Kyong Chol (Chief of the Military Security Command).  Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to Ku’msuan Palace on 8 July to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the death of his paternal grandfather, late DPRK founder and President Kim Il Sung.

View of the exterior of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and memorial tower in Pyongyang (Photos: KCNA)

View of the exterior of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and memorial tower in Pyongyang (Photos: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un talks to senior party and government officials during a tour of the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un and senior party and government officials tours the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

Kim Jong Un and senior party and government officials tours the renovated Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang (Photo: KCNA)

According to KCNA the museum was “newly built as required by the 21st century and its area and the Monument to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War turned into a general education center to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War under the grand plan and energetic guidance of Kim Jong Un, who has successfully carried forward the ever-victorious history and tradition started on Mt. Paektu.”  Kim Jong Un toured different exhibitions and galleries in the museum and was briefed about the various artifacts, images and other items on display.  He praised the KPA construction personnel who worked on the museums renovation.  He said “the ceremony for opening the museum is planned to be held grandly” and “noted the museum is a treasure-house of the country, a theatre showcasing confrontation with the U.S. and an important base for anti-U.S. education.”  Kim Jong Un also said that “the excellent rebuilding of the museum and the improvement of the surrounding landscape will contribute to educating the servicepersons and people in President Kim Il Sung’s Chuch’e-oriented military idea, anti-imperialist revolutionary idea and outstanding commanding arts, and helping them carry forward the fighting spirit and soul of the forerunners” and “called for making good preparations for the opening and showing the fixed will of Songun Korea to always emerge victorious by carrying forward the tradition of victory displayed by the preceding generations.”

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