Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
DPRK state media reported on 18 January (Friday) that a national meeting will be convened of Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] cell secretaries in Pyongyang at an undisclosed date. KCNA reported that “the nomination of participants in the meeting and preparations for the meeting are now making successful progress in the whole party.” According to KCNA “The meeting will be attended by secretaries of the party cells who made contributions to the development of the WPK and prosperity of the country by building their cells into organizations with transparent revolutionary outlook on the leader and powerfully arousing broad masses to the effort for implementing the party policies” and that “Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) saw to it that the meeting of secretaries of party cells would be held by attaching great importance to the role of the party cells and their secretaries in strengthening the WPK into the party guided by Kimilsungism and Kimjongilism as required by the times and the developing revolution.”
An 11 January 2013 editorial in Rodong Sinmun said that “the New Year of 2013 is a year of great creations and changes to open up an epoch-making phase in the building of a socialist powerful state on the march road of the new century of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Korea. . . the honorable task of bringing about a decisive turnabout this year in building an economically powerful state and improving the people’s living standards–in the same spirit as was displayed in successfully launching the second version of the artificial earth satellite ‘Kwangmyo’ngso’ng 3’ [KMS-3] to display the dignity and majesty of military-first Korea–presents itself before us.” The editorial also writes about party cells:
All party organizations should adhere to the tradition of single-hearted unity as the political staff of their respective units, and effectively plan and coordinate organizational and political work to increase its might a hundred times and a thousand times. Organizational work of the party and ideological work of the party should be carried out with more novelty and vigor to consolidate the organizational and ideological unity of the party ranks steel-strong. With a mother’s heart, party organizations should embrace all the people in their bosom, warmly take care of them, and lead them so that they share their destiny with the party to the end and responsibly carry out the work assigned to them at their respective outposts. We should conduct party work in a battleline style, as in the 1970s, and concentrate the firepower of party work on thoroughly embodying Kim Jong Il patriotism in practical activities so that the flames of popular innovation may be fiercely stoked up in every place where party organizations are active.
Today, our party expects party cells, the basic organizations of the party, to display their might as revolutionary and combative vanguard organizations of the military-first era. The work of bringing about an epoch-making turnabout in the party work, the work of strengthening the blood-forged ties between the party and the masses, and the work of vigorously stimulating all the people to implement the party policy, these are all dependent on the activities of party cells. Party cells should focus on the work with people as a basis and effectively and positively carry it out.
A party cell is the basic unit in the KWP hierarchy, consisting of between five and 30 party members, headed by a secretary and deputy secretary. Party cell membership is often based on geographic area (i.e. where the party members live), but sometimes based on where the party members work. There are also party cells in the Korean People’s Army [KPA] which are managed by the KPA General Political Department. According to Yonhap News Agency, during the meeting “analysts expect the country to highlight its push to build economic might.” The upcoming meeting of party cell secretaries continues a trend that began in 2012 in which national meetings of security organizations, war veterans, mothers, public prosecutors and workers’ organizations were held in Pyongyang.
According to the KWP Charter (by-laws), “the party cell is the starting point of party life, and it is a fighting unit that carried out the party line and party policies by uniting the working masses around the party.” Technically, a party cell meets once a month. Agenda items can include the announcement of new policies or ideological teachings, reiterating or enforcing old policies, criticism sessions and itemizing various tasks (street cleaning, neighborhood beautification, contributing to agricultural or industrial work) and gestures (sending floral tributes, attending rallies, tributes or report meetings, financial contributions). These labor tasks, attendance at public events and knowledge of ideological works constitute party life, the key criteria in which a party member’s status is assessed. The party cell meeting can also serve as the forum for the leadership to communicate new policy or ideology without having to use DPRK state media (external or internal) channels. Party cells are ultimately subordinate to and controlled by the KWP Organization Guidance Department [OGD].
The last national meeting of party cell secretaries was held on 26 October 2007. According to an editorial published before the 2007 meeting said it “will mark an important landmark as it will bring about a great surge on all fronts for building a socialist economic power.” According to one of Kim Jong Il’s official biographies, KJI said “that for consolidating the unity of the Party, its cells must achieve ideological and volitional unity of their members.”