Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Unnamed sources have informed Yonhap that United Front Department Director Kim Yang-gon has a new deputy director. During October, Won Tong-yon was promoted concurrently to deputy director of the United Front Department and Vice Chair of the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee [Kim Yang-gon is Chair of KAPPC]. Previously Mr. Won was a bureau chief for both the department and committee, which are tasked with the neverending North-South talks (of which Mr. Won has been a participant for twenty years) and exchanges between the two Koreas. According to one of Yonhap’s sources, Mr. Won traveled with Mr. Kim to Beijing last month where the United Front/KAPPC officials may or may not have met with ROK representitives. Mr. Won was also a member of the DPRK’s delegation to Seoul for the funeral of the late ROK President Kim Dae-jung.
One of Yonhap’s sources also notes the influence of Jang Song-thaek in Mr. Won’s promotion. Won Tong-yon befriended Jang Song-thaek when the latter (unofficially) led a 2002 economic study tour to ROK, and his promotion might be seen in the context of Mr. Jang’s rising star.