North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

New Vice Director at United Front Department

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.


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November 2009