Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership
Kim Jong Un’s last observed appearance was his visit to Ku’msusan at midnight on February 16
An expanded meeting of the Worker’s Party of Korea [WPK] Central Committee Political Bureau was held at the WPK Central Committee #1 Office Building in Pyongyang on February 18 (Wednesday). It was the second meeting of the WPK’s top decision making body this month (a meeting of WPK Political Bureau members and alternates was held on February 10). In contrast to last week’s meeting, Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n) attended. Also in attendance were presidium, regular and alternate (candidate) members of the WPK Political Bureau. Present as observers were DPRK Cabinet Vice Premiers, WPK Central Committee Department Directors and Senior Deputy (1st Vice) Directors, WPK Central Committee Department and DPRK Government section chiefs, Chief Secretaries of WPK Provincial Committees, chief functionaries and “leading officials of commissions, ministries, national institutions, working people’s organizations and armed forces organs.”
On the platform for the meeting were: (first row) VMar Ri Yong Mu; Choe Tae Bok; Kim Ki Nam; Choe Ryong Hae; Kim Jong Un; VMar Hwang Pyong So; Pak Pong Ju; Pak To Chun; Kang Sok Ju, and (second row) Jo Yon Jun; Kim Yang Gon; VMar Hyon Chol Hae; Choe Yong Rim; Yang Hyong Sop; Gen. Kim Won Hong; Kwak Pom Gi; O Su Yong.
The Political Bureau meeting had two agenda items: a status report with speeches on the implementation of late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il’s (Kim Cho’ng-il) “behests,” and an “organizational matter.” Choe Tae Bok (WPK Secretary for Science and Education and Chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly [SPA]) opened the meeting.
Choe Ryong Hae (member of the WPK Political Bureau Presidium, WPK Secretary and Chairman of the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission) delivered a report about the first agenda item, addressing “the work done for the past three years to implement the behests of Kim Jong Il.”
According to KCNA, Choe said, in part, that:
The past three years were a period in which the army and people of the DPRK waged a dynamic struggle to thoroughly implement the behests of Kim Jong Il under the leadership of Kim Jong Un and years of victories and changes that demonstrated the great attraction and vitality of Kim Jong Il’s idea and cause all over the world.
The eternity and invincibility of Kim Il Sung’s (Kim Il-so’ng) nation and Kim Jong Il’s Korea were demonstrated to the whole world and signal achievements assuring the bright future of the great Paektusan nation were achieved. These are entirely ascribable to the wise guidance provided by Kim Jong Un who is unconditionally implementing to the letter without an inch of deflection or a step of concession the behests of Kim Jong Il, regarding them as important guidelines.
Shortcomings were manifested in the work for implementing the behests of Kim Jong Il over the past three years, let us bring about a radical turn in implementing the behests of Kim Jong Il by improving their ideological viewpoint and work style and manner.
Choe’s report was followed by speeches from Pak Pong Ju (DPRK Premier), Ri Jae Il (Senior Deputy Director of the WPK Propaganda and Agitation Department), Gen. Hyon Yong Chol (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Chun Sop (Chief Secretary of the Jagang WPK Provincial Committee), Ri Man Gon (Chief Secretary of the North P’yo’ngan WPK Provincial Committee) and Jon Yong Nam (First Chairman of the Kim Il-so’ng Youth League Central Committee). According to KCNA, these speakers “made analysis of the achievements and shortcomings made in their own sectors and units and lessons drawn from them in the work to implement the behests of Kim Jong Il over the last three years.”
The Political Bureau passed a resolution titled “On Holding Fast to Behests of the Great Comrade Kim Jong Il as Eternal Guidelines for Our Party and Revolution and Carrying Them out to the Last.” According to KCNA:
The behests of Kim Jong Il, great image of the powerful Paektusan nation and eternal leader of the WPK and the Korean people, serve as a textbook of the Korean revolution and scientific and encyclopedic important guidelines that indicate the way of building a thriving socialist nation and winning the final victory of the Juche revolution.
Kim Jong Un is showing in practice how the behests of Kim Jong Il should be upheld and translated into reality.
Reflecting the revolutionary faith and will and ardent desire of the army and people of the DPRK, Kim Jong Un made sure that Kim Jong Il was held forever in high esteem at the top post of the WPK and the state and the Ku’msusan Palace of the Sun was remodeled on the noblest level as the sacred temple of Chuch’e and that statues of President Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were erected on Mansu Hill and in provincial seats and major units, thus making their beaming images shine all over the country.
Kim Jong Un resolutely laid bare and foiled the moves of the modern-day factional elements who challenged the monolithic leadership of the party, thus putting the ideological oneness of the entire party and the whole society on the highest level and bringing the flower garden of the single-minded unity into full bloom by carrying forward Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s noble outlook on the people and the rising generation.
While putting forward the KPA as the reliable pioneers party and strong buttress upholding the Songun revolutionary cause of the party in the van, Kim Jong Un developed it into the powerful Paektusan revolutionary army capable of defeating enemy’s provocation at a single stroke, built world-class edifices through army-people coordinated operations and brought about a shining victory in the struggle for building an economic power and improving the standard of people’s living.
The resolution called for conducting the work for implementing the behests of Kim Jong Il as the primary tasks and unconditionally carrying out them to the last without an inch of deflection and a single step of concession.
It underscored the need for the party organizations to conduct an intensive political and ideological offensive for giving full play to the mental power of the masses in implementing the behests of Kim Jong Il.
The resolution called for making sure that all efforts are channeled into the implementation of his behests to thoroughly establish the monolithic leadership system of Kim Jong Un and uphold and preserve the leadership exploits of the party and add brilliance to them.
It underlined the need to unconditionally carry out the behests of Kim Jong Il to the letter by tenaciously pushing forward the work till their vitality is displayed in practice.
It called on the officials, commanding cadres of the revolution, to be standard bearers and vanguard fighters in the all-out charge for devotedly implementing the behests of Kim Jong Il.
The resolution stressed the need to wage an all-party intensive campaign against abuse of power, bureaucratism, irregularities and corruption.
It underscored the need for the officials to dedicate themselves to the party and revolution, society and the collective and take it as due revolutionary ethics and revolutionary party discipline to work and live simple-mindedly, uprightly and honestly as intended by Kim Jong Il.
It underlined the need for the officials to devote their blood and sweat to solving knotty problems in the people’s living and difficult problems of people, deeply aware of the noble intention of Kim Jong Un who is dedicating himself to the people.
The resolution called on the party organizations and political bodies at all levels, the Cabinet and the relevant organs to conduct organizational and political work and take administrative and working measures to implement the above-said resolution.
After the WPK Political Bureau “adopted” this resolution, it turned to “the organizational matter” about which KCNA did not elaborate. However, it most likely involved the dismissal and appointment of members of the WPK Central Committee’s power organizations (i.e. Political Bureau, Secretariat, department directors) and possibly revising the function and role of the power organizations.
The meeting ended with a speech by Kim Jong Un, described by KCNA as a “historic conclusion.” According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un said:
The meeting which was held at the important historic period of the Korean revolution reviewed the achievements, experience and shortcomings made in the struggle to carry out the behests of Kim Jong Il and lessons drawn from them and discussed and decided on important issues arising in successfully carrying out his behests.
Through the past three-year-long struggle to carry out the behests of Kim Jong Il we deeply cherished the unshakable faith that the lines and policies set forth by him and his teachings are textbooks of revolution and if we work as taught by him, there is nothing impossible and the final victory belongs to us.
It is the fixed will of the WPK and the army and people of the DPRK to implement to the letter Kim Jong Il’s behests without an inch of deflection and without a step of concession and translate his plan and desire into a reality on this land.
We should wage a dynamic struggle to build a thriving socialist nation and accomplish the historic cause of national reunification under the unfurled banner of great Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism.
We should do all work as intended by Kim Jong Il and as he did, regarding his behests as the important guidelines as befitting his faithful soldiers and disciples.
Party organizations should conduct the organizational and political work in a fresh and viable manner so that the officials, party members and working people may turn out as one with the revolutionary faith, fighting spirit and revolutionary pluck to devotedly carry out the teachings of Kim Jong Il and the party’s policies under any condition.
All party organizations should put on record without omission all the teachings and instructions Kim Jong Il gave to their domains and units, bring them home to officials and other working people and thus help them deeply grasp his behests.
The party organizations should wage unique and dynamic political work pulsating with the breath of the times and motivate the people so that the revolutionary spirit of Mt. Paektu, the spirit of blizzards of Paektu prevail throughout the country and a high-pitched drive for creation and innovation is waged in all worksites.
Units associated with the leadership of Kim Jong Il should take the lead in implementing his behests to the letter.
It was the most important behest sand lifetime desire of Kim Jong Il to provide the people with an affluent and happy life. President Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s behests concerning the problems of food and clothing essential for the living should be carried out before any other behests.
The leading officials of the party and the state and all other officials should look back with conscience whether they have worked as required by the revolution and in its interests true to the intention of Kim Jong Il at the important posts entrusted to them by the party, and work with their sleeves rolled up to thoroughly carry out his behests and party policies with extraordinary resolution and enthusiasm.
Not a few officials including those of economic guidance organs lack responsibilities in their work and fail to fulfill their role as masters.
I urge these officials to conceive from a fresh angle and wage in an innovative way all work with their feet planted in reality and looking at the world. These officials should work and live simple-mindedly, uprightly and honestly with conscience.
All domains and units should judge well whether any work is contrary to the people’s demand and interests and do the work without their burden and inconvenience.
Nothing is impossible and no fortress is insurmountable as long as there is the bright blueprint for building a rich and powerful country indicated by Kim Jong Il and the revolutionary enthusiasm and great strength of all service personnel and people who are turning out as one in the revolutionary spirit of Paektu true to the call of the party.
The U.S. imperialists and their followers are making desperate efforts to block our advance but the Korean revolution is dynamically advancing along the landmark of victory set by the party
I call on all the people to uphold the spirit of the enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee and bring about a revolutionary turn in the struggle to implement the behests of Kim Jong Il, confident of victory.
One Too Many Meetings and a Thousand Hidden Heroes Behind
As noted above, this was the second meeting of the Political Bureau in a little over a week. This is somewhat unusual. From 2011 until 2014, DPRK state media only publicized seven (7) Political Bureau meetings. Today’s gathering brings the total up to nine (9). The last time the DPRK’s political calendar was altered so dramatically was in 2010 with a pair of SPA meetings.** The rules for such things are not completely inflexible, but according to the WPK’s bylaws the Political Bureau need only meet once a month. The question now (as in 2010) is what happened or changed during the past eight days that would necessitate two Political Bureau meetings in such quick succession? Or, what did or did not happen in advance of last week’s Political Bureau meeting that necessitated a second and expanded gathering?
GPD Mafia Represent
All of the uniformed senior security officials on the expanded Political Bureau meeting’s platform (rostrum) have past or current career experience in the Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Department [GPD]. VMar Hwang Pyong So is the GPD’s current director. National Defense Commission Vice Chairman Ri Yong Mu held a series of positions in the GPD from the 1950s until the 1970s, including a stint as director in the mid-1970s. VMar Hyon Chol Hae, called back from the deck chair of his semi-retirement, is a former deputy director in the GPD. Minister of State Security Gen. Kim Won Hong spent the early portion of his career as a political commissar in the GPD before migrating to the Military Security Command [MSC]. Delivering the meeting report was Choe Ryong Hae, the immediate past GPD Director. The presence of current and past GPD personnel on the platform appears to be tied to Kim Jong Un’s recurring remarks about the necessity of political education and ideological indoctrination during military field inspections in 2014. At one inspection last year Jong Un said one military unit’s “serious defects” were because “the party committee of the unit failed to successfully do the party political work, the work with the commanding officers and soldiers to help them perform their revolutionary duties.”
Speakers Without Status
With the exceptions of the Pak Pong Ju and Gen. Hyon Yong Chol, the four (4) other officials who spoke after Choe Ryong Hae are full or alternate members of the WPK Political Bureau. The standard practice, what separates full Political Bureau members from alternate Political Bureau members, is that alternate members (let alone observers) generally do not participate in Political Bureau meetings. These four speakers could be new Political Bureau members and alternates, elected shortly thereafter under the pretext of the “organizational matter,” or they could be designated by Jong Un for some other career advancement. Also, two of these speakers, Kim Chun Sop and Ri Man Gon, are the leading party officials of provinces that have major munitions factories and sites that are part of the DPRK’s WMD and space programs.
Where is Kim Yong Nam?
The major absence at today’s expanded meeting of the Political Bureau was SPA Presidium President Kim Yong Nam, the country’s nominal head of state. Kim’s last observed appearance was at a rally in early January. Despite state media reports of Kim sending greetings and condolence messages to foreign heads of state, he was conspicuously absent from various events and festivities commemorating Kim Jong Il’s birth anniversary. His ceremonial duties, such as delivering the report at the birth anniversary central report meeting, were assumed by Choe Ryong Hae. Kim Yong Nam is part of a cohort in the old guard which has previously resisted Kim Jong Un and his close aides so there is a moderate chance Kim Yong Nam is being eased out of office. On the other hand, Kim is 87 years old so his absence at the Political Bureau meeting could be due to old age and ill health.
**The 2nd session of the 12th SPA gathered on April 9, 2010, the 3rd session of the SPA was announced on May 18, 2010 and convened on June 7, 2010.**