Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
According to ROK media, citing anonymous sources and observations in DPRK state media, Han Kwang Sang has been promoted to director of the Korean Workers’ Party [KWP] Finance and Accounting Department. The Finance and Accounting Department is part of the central party apparatus which manages the finances of the party and the Kim Family. It also is responsible for the payroll and material lives of party officials and employees.
From 2009 to 2013 Han served as the department’s senior deputy (1st Vice) director, as the nominal head of Office #38 which manages the Kim Family’s finances. He made his first observed appearance in January 2010, when he accompanied late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il (Kim Cho’ng-il) on a guidance tour of the renovation of the Hyangsan Hotel. His public appearances traveling with Kim Jong Il increased after the succession of Kim Jong Un was widely publicized in September 2010, even though his attendance was not always noted state media reporting. Han has been a fairly routine member of Kim Jong Un’s entourage during his visits and inspections around the country.
Yonhap News Agency quoted an unnamed official in a 21 July (Sunday) report about Han’s promotion who said “Han Kwang-sang, first vice director of the Finance and Accounting Department, who emerged with the appearance of Kim Jong Un, looks to have been promoted to director of the Finance and Accounting Department around May of last year.” Yonhap also used the order in which officials who accompany the leader are called or listed in state media reports, noting that Han was previously called after Kim Kyong Ok, Senior Deputy (1st Vice) Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department. A ROK government official told Yonhap that”if Han Kwang-sang is introduced before Kim Kyo’ng-ok, he is highly likely to be at the director level,” adding that “there is no first vice director who is introduced before Kim Kyo’ng-ok, first vice director of the party’s Organization and Guidance Department, who has more power than passable WPK directors.”
According to Yonhap‘s report notes that the Finance and Accounting Department has been without a formal director since the removal from office of Ri Pong Su following the 2004 death of his chief patron Ko Yong Hui, Kim Jong Il’s fourth wife and mother of current leader Kim Jong Il. Ri, an alias, replaced Ro Myong Gun (Ro Myo’ng-kun) who had served as director of Finance and Accounting since the department was established on Kim Jong Il’s order in 1983. Since Ri Pong Su’s dismissal, and given individual and organizational behavior in the DPRK’s political culture, Kim Jong Il himself probably assumed the directorship and ran the department through its deputy directors. During 2003 to 2012, deputy directors (with different portfolios) of the Finance and Accounting Department have included Han Kwang Sang, Jon Il Chun, Kim Tong Un and Ri Kwang Gun (currently head of the Joint Venture and Investment Commission). Kim Hyo was also a cadre in the department, as of one KJI’s main accountants, and his daughter Kim Ok, KJI’s widow as his 5th wife and technical secretary, had close ties to the department (and access to its safes). The change in leadership of the Finance and Accounting Department may be tied to rumors that Kim Hyo and Kim Ok were recently dismissed from office.