Kim Jong Il Offers $20 Million Worth of Gifts

Daily NK
Han Young Jin
10/18/2005

Kim Jong Il’s politics of gift is a well-known practice. On only on the birthdays of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, but also on the day of party establishment and other national and traditional holidays.

The reason why Kim Jong Il distributes gifts to the people is to increase level of obedience and make them express gratitude towards “the Commander’s special grace.” Although it may look like a lousy way of convincing people to the South Koreans, to the North Korean people, it had been a long tradition. The reason why they offer gifts to the participants to the Arirang Performance lies along the same line. Although gift offering did exist in other former communist countries, but the level of practice is incomparably higher in North Korea.

Kim Jong Il sends to gifts to about 20,000 people every holiday, and the amount he spends on these gifts is about $20 million US dollars every year.

There was special food distribution on the day of 60th Anniversary of the Party Establishment. Apart from food distribution there is a separate group of people who receive special gifts. The number of them reach to 20,000, who are core members supporting the Kim Jong Il dictatorship.

The receivers include the family members of the liberation movement activists against Japanese colonialism, initial communists (palchisan), the party, high level officials and the military. The members of the initial communists are only about 300 in number. Kim Il Sung ordered, “The party must take care of the sons of the palchisan down to three generations” so they are entitled to special treatment.

The bereaved family department of the Worker’s Party takes care of these families. The sons and grandsons receive free education up to university, offered jobs and free cars as well as housing.

5,000 Entitled to Special Treatment

The people entitled to special treatment reach up to 5,000. The first level cadres such as of the Central Party, the People’s Arm Force, guard commanders and military commanders are entitled as main distribution everyday. The ministers of the cabinet and vise ministers are smaller in number and in a level lower than the military and party cadres.

The people entitled to gifts on the three main holidays (New Year’s Day, birthdays of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il) number to 15,000. They are the cabinet cadres and military cadres above commanding officer level and cadres of different levels such as families of those sent abroad (for espionage and information gathering), foreign business workers and bereaved families.

The representatives of the Supreme People’s Assembly and provincial party secretaries, chiefs of the People’s Committee, Central Procurator’s Office, Central Court, National Security Agency, Security Office and other provincial level cadres also receive gifts from Kim Jong Il the three main national holidays. High level officials whose rank is as high as the central party secretaries in local cities and counties too are on the list of the gift receivers.

Managed by Keumsusan Accounting Department

Sending out of gifts under Kim Jong Il’s name is managed by the Keumsusan Accounting Department. All the cadres of secretarial level and above in the Central Organization and Guidance Department receive electronics, clothes and even food from Japan and South Korea. They always receive enough to eat that they prefer to receive more electronics than food.

The secretaries of the Worker’s Party and the cabinet ministers receive the most luxurious gifts they can possibly get. The gifts include two pairs of suits, two bottles of expensive imported liquor, expensive underwear, clocks with Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s names engraved, expensive refrigerators and color TV.

The workers of the Keumsusan Accounting Department visit each government agencies and offices with the gifts in refrigerating truck used specifically gift delivery. They call the receivers in secret and distribute the gifts with vouchers.

At the time, the receivers bow to the portrait of Kim Jong Il and say, “We will repay the high political confidence and grace of the Great Leader Commander Kim Jong Il with our loyalty (devotion).”

In case of the cabinet members or military officials where the receivers are only a small number, the truck of the Keumsusan Accounting Department delivers the gifts to the houses. In local places, they gather the receivers in one place and hold a small ceremony for the gift distribution. For the local receiver, the gifts include two bottles of expensive liquor, a box of tangerines, foreign sweets, one pair of suit, and a cartridge of cigarettes, “Pyongyang.”

20 Million USD on Gifts Every Year

The defector who has an expertise in the matter says the amount of money Kim Jong Il spends on gifts every year reaches up to 20 million US dollars. The Keumsusan Accounting Department had been taking 1% of the annual national budget and directly ordered gifts from foreign countries.

He says recently, the responsibility of purchasing gifts transferred to the United Front Department of the Central Party. “As it became responsibility of the United Front Department of the Central Party to purchase the gifts, some of the gifts sent from South Korea have turned into Kim Jong Il’s gifts to the cadres under his name,” he added.

Some gifts come back to Kim Jong Il in peasant, roe, honey and mountain (wild) ginseng from the people.

Cadres do not talk about what they have received. In sometime early 1980s, Kim Jong Il once offered Benz cars to the cadres of the United Front Department and Organization and Guidance Department of the Central Party, and the cadres fought over the color of the cars. After criticisms from Kim Jong Il, cadres are not allowed comment on the gifts they received.

However, the cadres who have received gifts do not hide that they received gifts. Some of them gather the people from the department to their offices or homes and share “the Commander’s gifts.”

The party notifies the worker’s about gift receivers to arouse more fidelity out of the people by letting the party workers know that responsible workers receive special treatment and to show off that Kim Jong Il love and trusts the workers.

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2 Responses to “Kim Jong Il Offers $20 Million Worth of Gifts”

  1. […] North Korea, however, did undertake one practice unique among (largely western)socialist states: On the leaders’ birthdays special gifts are bestowed on the population in celebration.  The scale of the gifts allegedly varies depending on one’s rank in society.  A common farmer might get a new pair of socks.  A Senior Workers Party Officials probably receive a good deal more.  On estimate puts the total distribution at USD$20m.  […]

  2. […] The value of one’s gift, however, allegedly depends on one’s rank in society.  A common farmer might receive a new pair of socks.  A senior Worker’s Party official probably receives a good deal more.  The distribution of alcohol is popular.  One estimate put the value of these special gifts at USD$20m.  […]