Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
He doesn’t look much like Lee Majors, but DPRK Premier Kim Yong-il is identified by Choson Ilbo as taking the hit for the currency revaluation. 2009 has been a banner year for Premier Kim who took a leading role during Wen Jianbao’s visit in October and more recently met with Sergei Mironov, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council (the Parliament’s upper house). Choson Ilbo cites Premier Kim as “having spearheaded the regime’s ongoing war against private enterprise. . .he also downsized major markets and relocated jobless people to collective farms.” While Premier Kim may become the internal public scapegoat of the currency revaluation, Choson Ilbo also named KWP Financial Planning Director Pak Nam-gi as the one who conceived the new North Korean currency scheme.
Mr. Pak is regularly seen as a member of Kim Jong-il’s travel party on guidance and inspection tours. From 1998 to 2003, Pak Nam-gi was Chair of the Cabinet-level State Planning Commission (GOSPLAN) and was interim KWP Secretary for Economic Affairs until his appointment as Director of Financial Planning. Another report has implicated Jang Song-thaek in the currency revaluation, but it seems more likely Mr. Jang is only involved in managing the Ministry of Public Security response (as well as the security efforts earlier this year to enforce the new market policies).
If Kim Yong-il is demoted or removed during December, this will mark the fourth DPRK Cabinet replacement over three (3) months. It should also be noted that SPA Vice Chair Kim Wan-su was replaced as Minister of Finance in late September, which some accounts attribute to shortfalls in the 150 Day Battle Campaign.