Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Last week, the North Korean press buried the replacement of its Minister of Finance under PRC State Councilor Dai Bingguo’s meeting with Kim Jong-il. This week with news of the North-South reunions at Mount Kumgang, Yonhap News Agency reports that the DPRK replaced its President of the National Academy of Science. The National Academy of Science is subordinate to the DPRK Cabinet, and should not be confused with the Second National Academy of Science, which is subordinate to the Second Economic Committee.
The outgoing National Academy of Science President Pyon Yong-rip was an alternate member of the KWP Central Committee and was a deputy (delegate) to the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly, representing the 50th Electoral District. Mr. Pyon had worked for Party and State education organizations for almost 40 years, including serving as Minister of Education in the early 1990’s. He was also a chair of the DPRK-Belarus Friendship Association and had served as a Vice Chair of the DPRK-Cuba Solidarity Committee.
Pyon Yong-rip’s replacement as President of the National Academy of Science is Dr. Jang Chol. Dr. Jang wrote an editorial in Rodong Sinmun announcing his appointment to the NAS Presidency. As Yonhap writes, “Little is known about Jang.” Dr. Jang gave a speech on behalf of North Korean scientists at an October 2006 rally in Kim Il-sung Square that celebrated the 9 October 2006 nuclear test. At that occasion Dr. Jang was joined by KWP Secretary Choe Thae-bok and current National Defense Commission member Kim Jong-gak. This may indicate that Dr. Jang has institutional connections to the DPRK nuclear program, or ties to the Second Economic Committee. Dr. Jang is a deputy (delegate) to the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly, representing the 87th Electoral District.