North Korea shuffles cabinet in effort to build a strong and prosperous nation

Institute for Far Esatern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 09-22-1
9/22/2009

In order to meet the goal of building a ‘Strong and Prosperous Nation’ by the year 2012, North Korean authorities are reshuffling some positions within the Cabinet, which is its ‘Economic Headquarters’. During the first session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) last April, Kim Jong Il launched his third regime, and now less than 6 months later, is restructuring the Cabinet. For example, the National Science and Technology Council, which was merged into the Cabinet Academy of Science (now the National Academy of Science) in 1998, has been re-established.

North Korean media briefly reported on the 19th that the SPA Standing Committee brought out the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea National Science and Technology Council” through the announcement of Government Ordinance # 301. The press did not follow up with specifics concerning the announcement, but the recent position of North Korean authorities that “without scientific and technological development, there is no independence, no national defense, and no economy,” it appears that the recent cabinet order is related to attempts by the North to strengthen its economy.

The first National Science and Technology Council established in the North was created in 1962, and was intended to support the national defense industries. The Academy of Science, which had been established 10 years prior, was put under the control of the council, and the council was responsible for the creation and implementation of a national science and technology plan, as well as for providing guidance over research activities. However, as the North’s level of science and technology improved, the council, which was not made up of experts on science and technology, was unable to appropriately guide the research carried out by the academy. In 1982, the academy was separated from the council, and its status was boosted to that of an independent entity.

North Korea is currently in its 3rd 5-year plan to “develop new national science and technologies” by 2012. Currently, North Korea is prioritizing the modernization of factories, enterprises and other industries, and Kim Jong Il has stressed modernization and the introduction of vanguard technologies during his on-site inspections of the nation’s economic facilities. Therefore, it appears that the newly established National Science and Technology Council will be responsible for overseeing cooperation between mechanical and chemical industries and the modernization of the industrial sector, while the National Academy of Science will focus purely on research.

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