2009 Supreme People’s Assembly (s)elections

UPDTE 5: (h/t Werner) Here is a link to the full list of SPA members (in Korean).   Kim Jong il’s district, 333, is the only one not published.  Jang Song Taek (Kim’s borther in law) is representing district 31.

UPDATE 4: Michael Madden sends in more biographies of prominent North Koreans:

Kim Kyong Hui, biography here
Ju Sang Song, biography here
Ji Yong Chun, biography here
Choe Ryong Hae,  biography here
Kim Yong Ju, biography here

UPDATE 3: Daily NK coverage of the election results here. 

UPDATE 2: Yonhap reports that fewer lawmakers were replaced than in the 2003 election, when there was a 50% turnover.  Choe Sung-chol, vice chairman of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee handling inter-Korean affairs, was removed from the Assembly, according to its new list. 

UPDATE 1: The AP is reporting that none of Kim Jong il’s sons were (s)elected to the SPA.  Who was (s)elected?  I am still waiting on the full list, but the AP reports the following:

Members of the new parliament announced Monday included Kim Yong Nam, the North’s No. 2 official and the ceremonial head of state; Jang Song Taek, head of the Workers’ Party’s administrative department and Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law; and Kang Sok Ju, the first vice foreign minister.

Read the full story here

ORIGINAL POST: On Sunday, March 8, the DPRK will hold “our-style elections” for members of the Supreme People’s Assembly.  Organizaitonal charts of the North Korean government can be found here, although they are based on the a de jure reading of DPRK’s legal procedures not the de facto operation of the political system.  A list of top policymakers (in state offices) can be found here.  I will post relevant material as it becomes available.  In the meantime, here is some related information:

1. DPRK recent military personnel changes.

2. Kim Jong il nominated for SPA.

3. CIA publishes list of policymakers.

4. DPRK ministerial shakeup.

5. Election day pictures: 1, 2, 3.

6. KCNA coverage of the election: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

7. Biographies if prominent NK policy-makers by Michael Madden posted below.

The Associated Press provides some context for the (s)election:

North Korea holds elections Sunday for its legislature, the Supreme People’s Assembly. A look at key factors in the upcoming poll:

WHAT’S AT STAKE: Voters will elect the country’s 12th Supreme People’s Assembly for a five-year term. The assembly currently has 687 deputies but the number, which is linked to the country’s population, could change.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Legislatively, the assembly is a rubber-stamp body. But since members double as key officials, the election provides a glimpse of the ruling elite in the secretive country.

WHO’S RUNNING: Only one candidate runs in each constituency. By law, individuals and organizations can recommend candidates, but the ruling Workers’ Party is widely believed to pick candidates. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is running in constituency No. 333.

THE VOTE: Officially, it’s a secret vote. In reality, it’s not. To vote against a candidate, voters go to a special booth to cross out the name, making it obvious who is doing so. Defectors say opposing a candidate is unthinkable. Polls typically open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and results are announced the following day.

TURNOUT: In the last election in 2003, turnout was 99.9 percent, state media said. All citizens aged 17 or older are eligible to vote.

The Donga Ilbo offers, “6 Rising Stars in the North Korean Elite”:

A report by the South Korean Unification Ministry presented to the National Assembly yesterday mentioned six politicians among the 20 most frequently mentioned by the North’s official daily Rodong Shinmun last year as rising stars in Pyongyang’s hierarchy.

The six were not mentioned in 2007.

One North Korea expert said, “North Korea’s leadership has been controlled by Kim Jong Il. Those frequently mentioned by media can be considered powerful politicians. After the elections Sunday, North Korea’s political elite will be replaced. In the process, we need to pay more attention to the rising stars.”

The most notable among the six is Ri Yong Chol, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League. He ranks 15th for being mentioned 45 times last year.

Since being elected secretary in December 2007, Ri has often appeared on the political scene. He even had an interview with the state-run (North) Korean Central News Agency on the implementation of projects announced in a New Year’s joint editorial.

Kim Jong Il established the league, a fringe organization of the ruling Workers’ Party whose previous name was the Socialist Working Youth League, to strengthen the political foundation of his successor.

To lure the “third and fourth generations of revolution,” Kim renamed the body the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League after his late father.

In 2007, the list of the North’s top 20 politicians had nobody from the league. Ri’s rapid rise indicates Kim Jong Il’s strategy to strengthen the power of his successor.

Kim Thae Jong, vice director of the international department of the party’s Central Committee, ranks ninth for appearing 62 times in the media. He was a frequent player in diplomacy last year and even appeared in the royal box when North Korea held a national event to commemorate the 17th anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s taking office as supreme commander of the North’s military in December last year.

In 2007, Vice Marshal Kim Il Chol was the sole military officer among the top 20 elites but fell out of last year’s list.

Replacing him were marshals Hyon Chol Hae (11th) and Ri Myong Su (13th). Hyon accompanied Kim Jong Il most often last year and Ri ranked second in that category.

Among Cabinet members, Foreign Trade Minister Ri Ryong Nam, who was mentioned by media 43 times, ranked 17th. Kim Jong Il appointed nine new ministers including Ri last year.

Most of the six ministers appointed since October last year have been emerging technocrats.

Michael Madden submits these brief biographies of some DPRK notables:

Kim Ki-nam, biography (PDF), photo
Ri Yong-mu, biography (PDF)
Kim Il-chol, biography (PDF), photo
Jon Pyong-ho, biography (PDF)

Jang Brothers

Jang Sung-taek, PDF biography here, recent photo with Kim Jong il here.

Jang Sung-gil
Birth date: January 13, 1939
Last known position: Lieutenant General, KPA

Positions held:
1981: Colonel, and Vice-Commanding Officer, Second Corps, KPA
1982: Colonel, and Commanding Officer, 13th Division, Second Corps, KPA
Vice-Commanding Officer, Second Corps, KPA
1985: Major General, Commanding Officer, 32nd Division, Fifth Corps, KPA
1992: Vice-Commanding Officer, Fourth Corps, KPA
1992: Promoted to Lieutenant General, KPA (April)*
1996: Commanding Officer, 105th Division, Ryu Kyong-su Tank Command, KPA (December)

Presumed to be relieved of command of the 105th Tank Division, during JST’s p.n.g. status.

*General Jang is part of the same 1992 class that promoted Kim Yong Chun

Jang Sung-u
Born: 1935, Kangwon Province
Kim il Sung Military Academy

Positions held:
1971: Vice Department Director, Organization and Guidance Department, CCKWP
1977: Promoted to Major General, KPA
1980: Member, CCKWP (October)
1982: Dlegate, 7th SPA (February)
Awarded Order of Kim il Sung (April)
1984: Promoted to Lieutenant General, KPA (May)
1986: Delegate, 8th SPA (November)
1988: Director-General, Reconnaissance Bureau, MPAF
1989: 1st Vice Director, Public Security Department (January)
1990: Delegate, 9th SPA, representing Saenal, South Hwanghae (April)
Promoted to Colonel-General, KPA (presumed April)
Member, Qualification Screening Committee, SPA (May)
1991: Director, General Political Bureau, State Security Department (December)
1992: Interim Position in the Central Command, KPA (April)
Director-General, General Political Bureau, State Security (May)
1994: Commanding Officer, Third Corps, KPA
Member, Kim il Sung Funeral Committee [#85]
1995: Dismissal, as Director-General, General Political Bureau, State Security Department (November)
1996: Commanding Officer, Third Corps, KPA (July)
1998: Delegate 10th SPA (July)

Jang’s inner circle

Cho Chun Hwang
Position: First Vice Department Director, Propaganda and Agitation Department, CCKWP
Baccalaureate, History, Kim il Sung University

Previous positions:
1972-1990: Mr. Cho worked as a staff member, division director, and department deputy director in the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the CCKWP.
1991: Vice Department Director, Propaganda and Agitation Department, CCKWP
1997: First Vice Department Director, Propaganda and Agitation Department, CCKWP (June)
2000: Vice Department Director Propaganda and Agitation Department, CCKWP (July)

Ri Yong Bok
Position(s): Chief Secretary, Nampho City People’s Committee
Member, 11th SPA
Member, Qualification Screening Committee, SPA

Positions held:
1972: Chairman, KIS League of Socialist Working Youth (December)
Presidium member and delegate, 5th SPA (December)
1982: Vice Department Director, Youth Guidance and Three Revolutions Department, CCKWP (June)
1998: Delegate (606 ED), 10th SPA (July)
Appointed Chief Secretary, Nampho City People’s Committee

Ri Kwang Gun
Position: unknown, possibly in Europe; former Minister of Foreign Trade
Born: 1935
Namsan Senior Middle School
Pyongyang Foreign Language Institute, German Department
Kim il Sung University

Positions held:
1965: Lecturer, German Department, Pyongyang Foreign Language Institute
1972: Professor, German Department, Kim il Sung University
1977-1978: Ministry of Foreign Trade
1979: State External Economic Affairs Commission
1987: 1st Secretary, Economic Affairs, DPRK Representative to Germany
1991: State External Economic Affairs Commission
1997 (presumed): Korea General Equipment Import and Export Corporation
2000: Appointed Minister of Foreign Trade, DPRK (December)

O Kuk Ryol
Born:  1931, Jilin, PRC
Mangyongdae Revolutionary School
Kim il Sung University
USSR Croatia Military University (1962)

Positions held:
1964: Promoted Major-General, KPA Air Force
Appointed, Dean, KPA Air Force Academy (November)
1967: Promoted Lieutenant-General and Commanding Officer, KPA Air Force (October)
Delegate, 4th SPA (November)
1970: Appointed Members, CCKWP (November)
1972: Delegate, 5th SPA (December)
1977: Appointed Vice Chief of Staff, KPA (October)
Delegate, 6th SPA (November)
1978: Appointed Alternate Member, Political Bureau, CCKWP
1979: appointed Chief of Staff, KPA (September)
[His command of the KPA Air Force was succeeded by Jo Myong Rok]
1980: Promoted to Colonel General, KPA (September)
Member, CCKWP; Member, Political Bureau (October)
Member, Central Military Committee
1982: Delegate, 7th SPA (February)
Member, Central People’s Committee
Awarded Order of Kim il Sung (April)
1985: Promoted General, KPA (April)
1986: Delegate, 8th SPA (November)
1988: Removed as KPA Chief of Staff (February)
Removed from the Political Bureau, CCKWP (April)
Removed from Central Military Committee (April)
Appointed Director of Civil Defense, CCKWP (November)
1989: Appointed Department Director, Strategy Department, CCKWP (July)
1992: Order of Kim il Sung (April)
1994: Member, Kim il Sung Funeral Committee (#45) (July)
1995: Member, O Jin-U Funeral Committee (#43) (February)
1998: Delegate (356 Electoral District), 10th SPA (July)
2003: Delegate, 11th SPA
2009: Appointed Vice Chair, NDC (February)

Ongoing: Member, CCKWP; State Funeral Committee

Jang rival

Ri Jah Gang
Postion held:  1st Vice Department Director, Organization and Guidance, CCKWP
Born: 1930
Kim il Sung University

Positions held:
1973: Cadre, Organization and Guidance Department, CCKWP
1975: Vice Director, Organization and Guidance Department, CCKWP
2001: 1st Vice Director, Organization and Guidance Department, CCKWP (July)

On the list of so-called reliable members of the KPA, General Jang Song-u is near the top.  General Jang’s last known position was in the Third Army Corps, whose primary mission is the military defense of Pyongyang.  The Third Army Corps is also responsible the maintenance and support of the Kamsusan Memorial Palace, where General Jang serves as a kind of military officer in residence.   General Jang has always had the support of his younger brother, Jang Song-taek, and the brothers’ careers have advanced on parallel paths in the KPA and the KWP.  Although, due most likely to his military affiliation and the advantage of age (he is eleven years older than Song-taek), General Jang was the first brother admitted to the CCKWP apparatus when he was assigned as a Vice Director of the Organization and Guidance Department CCKWP in 1973.  This was the same year that another Kim Jong il associate with KPA duties, Ri Ji Gang, was assigned to Organization and Guidance.  Based on the accounts of KPA and DPRK State events from the KCNA, General Jang was neither reassigned nor demoted when his brother was removed from the Organization and Guidance Department and confined to his chalet.  Among the capacities in which General Jang has served: he was the commanding military officer in the troop review and parade on the 50th Anniversary of the KWP Foundation in 1995 and; he has assumed interim operational command over the Escort/Bodyguard Units.  Jang Song-u occupies the intersection of the politico(politburo)-military structure and the intelligence agencies (including State Security and the Escort/Bodyguard Units).  The conjunction of General Jang’s political connections and military assignments give him a significant role in matters concerning succeeding governments to Kim Jong il.  In many ways, General Jang’s profile resembles that of those close Kim il Sung aides who eased Kim Jong il into his current job.


2 Responses to “2009 Supreme People’s Assembly (s)elections”

  1. Werner says:

    The complete list of all members of the 12th SPA you can find here (in Korean language only):


  2. NKeconWatch says:

    Thanks, Werner. I have been looking all over.