North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Premier’s Mea Culpa and Reappearances

Kim Kyong-hui (4th from left) and DPRK Premier Kim Yong-il (3rd from right) pose with Kim Jong-il and factory managers of the 8 February Vinalon Complex (Photo KCNA via

According to several reports, DPRK Premier Kim Yong-il took one for the team on the currency redenomination.  Premier Kim apologized “about the currency reform as we pushed ahead with it without sufficient preparation and it caused a great pain to the people” at a Pyongyang meeting on Monday.  Premier Kim joined Kim Jong-il’s second day of inspection at the 8 February Vinalon Complex in Hamhung, South Hamgyong.  Back to business, I suppose.

According to Dong-a Ilbo citing Free North Korea Radio, the North Korean internal security apparatus is back in business,  scrutinizing people using mobile telephones to report on the country’s internal situation.  These new enforcement actions seem to stem from the MPS/SSD joint statement:

Pyongyang said Monday that the attempt to overthrow the government has exceeded a dangerous level and issued a warning.

The report quoted a source in North Korea located in Onsong County, North Hamkyong Province, as saying a secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party made workers confess whether they had mobile phones or improperly recorded videos Monday.

The workers were ordered to “give their mobile phones to security agencies or throw them over the walls of security centers or the State Security Department within two days.”

“If you follow the order, you are generously forgiven, but if you’re caught using a cell phone, you are considered a traitor and severely punished,” the source said.

And Minister of the People’s Armed Forces and NDC Vice Chairman, VMAR Kim Yong-chun is alive and well and smelling the roses.  VMAR Kim joined KJI at the performance of Evgeni Onegin late last week.  He also held a meeting and said his goodbyes with the outgoing PRC Ambassador the the DPRK.  (Thanks to Nicolas)

Outgoing PRC Ambassador Liu Xiaoming converses with NDC Vice Chairman and Minister of the PAF VMAR Kim Yong-chun (Photo: Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea).

2 comments on “Premier’s Mea Culpa and Reappearances

  1. RPL

    In your opinion, does the retraction and subsequent admission of being wrong embolden the people, or will they likely stay “below the radar” and try to eke it out?

    My $0.02 is that the population is emboldened, but they aren’t ready to overthrow anyone just yet. They’d rather have the markets and their money back, and bide their time.

    • nkleadershipwatch

      I pretty much agree with you, RPL. There seems to be a preference to just get the markets going again, and for folks to make money and for things to go back to normal.

      I do not think, in the present circumstances and for a whole host of reasons, that NK citizens are in any position to overthrow the regime. NK does not have the religious, academic/arts or civic organizations that are necessary to organize and carry that out (as in Hungary, Czechs/Slovaks, Poland). Public protest in NK were successful in challenging the Party’s war on the markets, but a challenge to the regime is a different kettle of fish. The internal security apparatus is too insurmountable a force, unless it stood down.

      Kim Yong-il’s apology/admission is merely self-criticism. Senior NK officials have done this type of thing in the past, at Politburo or KWP CC plenum meetings. What makes it so significant is that external observers, and perhaps, a good swatch of the North Korean population know about it, more or less, in real time.
      But senior elites have made apology statements before. It’s effective at warding off dismissal, demotion or execution.

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February 2010
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