Archive for the ‘KPA General Political Bureau’ Category

Ideology classes being extended for KPA

Monday, November 7th, 2011

According to the Daily NK:

A source within North Korea has revealed to Daily NK that political education classes for the Chosun People’s Army have been extended from 12 to 19 hours a week in what the source sees as an effort to increase unity within the military.

The order to extend ideological instruction apparently came from the General Political Bureau of the Ministry of Peoples’ Armed Forces in early September. Following as it did the late Colonel Muammar Qadhafi’s escape from the Libyan capital Tripoli in the middle of August, this points to the possibility that the beginning of the Libyan leader’s end had a part to play in the nervy North Korean regime’s decision.

The source claims that all military units were handed new schedules for political education at that time, stating, “Every week commissioned officers get extra materials to conduct classes and enlisted soldiers have had their basic hours extended from 12 to 19.”

In reality this means that the classes, which used to be for two hours every day from Monday to Saturday, have now been extended to three hours, with the 30 minutes each morning previously allotted for reading and interpreting party policy and the works of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il extended to 40 minutes.

Commanding officers have had their own classes covering the correct method of instructing subordinates bumped up from three or four times a month to twice a week. These classes are to help them become acquainted with the guidance materials sent down from Pyongyang.

So-called ‘political commissars’ attached to companies follow the guidelines of the General Political Bureau in carrying out political education. Given their license to assess the ‘appropriateness’ of company commanders, in many ways they occupy a role more influential than that of commanders themselves.

The source claims that Special Forces were the guinea pigs for the new policy, with Marine Corps, specialist security forces and guidance department troops getting the first taste of the new orders.

The ideological training of ordinary soldiers is said to involve interpretation of Rodong Shinmun editorials, which serve as the main de facto public mouthpiece for official opinion, along with ideological ‘debate’ sessions.

“At the end of October we began studying a piece from the Rodong Shinmun called ‘We are all Descendants of Kim Il Sung’, and have been had debate sessions regarding another article which was about how to make our lives even better than they already are,” the source explained.

“A stationed officer from the Political Bureau sits in on the debate sessions and plays the role of a facilitator, making sure everything goes smoothly. They are drumming up excitement within these sessions by giving a day’s holiday to the best participants,” said the source.

Interestingly, meanwhile, the source added that the state is still choosing not to report on the death of Gaddafi or other Libya news, while “Most soldiers think the ramping up of political studies is some sort of preparation for winter training.”

Every year North Korea holds winter training from December 1 until June. On top of ideological education, training also involves marching, shooting, martial arts, war strategy and other drills.

Read the full story here:
More Ideology for the Troops!
Daily NK
Lee Seok Young


The Relationship between the Party and the Army under the Military-First Policy

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Daily NK
Choi Choel Hee

With Kim Jong Il’s condition an issue, there has been a lot of talk about North Korea’s government system in the post-Kim Jong Il era.

Due to the strengthened military influence caused by the military-first policy, one prediction is that a military-based collective leadership system may take power after Kim Jong Il.

However, a defector who used to be a high-ranking official in North Korea pointed out that this prediction comes from an incorrect understanding about the relationship between the Party and the military.

Hwang Jang Yop, who is a former Secretary of International Affairs of the Workers’ Party, has said that not military authorities but the Party would likely grasp power after Kim Jong Il’s death.

I. Chosun (North Korea) People’s Army Is the Army of the Party

According to the Regulations of the Workers’ Party, the Chosun People’s Army is defined as “the revolutionary military power of the Workers’ Party.” Separate from the regular chain of command in the Army, Party members are assigned to each unit to command them. That is, there are two command structures: a military chain of command and the Party’s organizational system.

The People’s Army is controlled by the Party Committee of the Chosun People’s Army under the Military Committee of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party. The chief secretary of the Party Committee of the Chosun People’s Army is Cho Myung Rok, who also holds the position of Director of the General Political Bureau of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces. His roles are to inform the Army of the Party’s instructions and regulations and to monitor and supervise the Army to make sure it adheres to the Party’s will and regulations.

At the same time, the highest political apparatus in the military, the General Political Bureau, is under surveillance of the Guidance Department of the Central Committee of the Party. Therefore, a Vice-Director of the Guidance Department of the Central Committee presides over the military while the military command system is always subordinate to the Party command system.

Regarding this relationship between the Party and the military, Hwang Jang Yop, the former Secretary of International Affairs of the Party, gave as an example “the Sixth Corps’ Coup d’état case,” and said that, “The suspected leaders of the coup were shot at once in a hall. The figure who ordered and carried out the massacre of the conspirators was Kim Young Choon, the Vice-Director of the National Defense Commission, but the political manager behind everything was Jang Sung Tae, Director of the Ministry of Administration, one of the departments under the Central Committee of the Party. This implies that there are different management systems overseeing the military — those of the military itself and those of the Party.”

II. The Right of Personnel Management and of Inspection Over the Military

The reason why the Director of the Guidance Department holds such a powerful influence is that the Director has the right to manage personnel and inspect the military.

Even the right to implement personnel management within the Army goes to the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Party. The members of the Secretariat are the Director of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, the Army Chief of Staff, the Director of the General Political Department, the Director of the Operations Department, and, in some cases, the commander of the Defense Security Command of the Army is included.

The Guidance Department of the Party maintains the right to inspect the Army. The scariest inspections for the military are the ones by the Guidance Department. On a rumor that the Guidance Department is coming, a few military officials are usually purged.

The fact is well known that Kim Jong Il himself also holds power over the military through controlling the Guidance Department.

The posts in charge of the military within the Guidance Department are the No. 13 Life Guidance Department and the No. 4 Cadre Department. Department #13 directly controls and instructs the operations of the Army Committee of the Central Committee of the Party and General Political Department of the Party.

III. Department #13 and Department #4 of the Guidance Department

The roles of these two departments are to monitor how well the Army follows the ideology and the leadership of Kim Jong Il, and whether or not party organizations and political organizations within the Army are operated well by the Party leadership. The Army Committee of the Party and the General Political Bureau doesn’t have the authority to make decisions, so it has to consult with Department #13 before taking action.

The Vice-Director of the Guidance Department is in charge of Department #13. The offices of Department #13 are located in the building of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces due to its association with the General Political Department of the People’s Army.

It also oversees the Army Committee of the Central Committee, the General Political Department, and the Army Committee. Department #13 participates in the major military meetings including the ideological struggle meeting. It hosts an annual fifteen-day-long Guidance Department lecture of the Party for military officials.

The No. 4 cadre department has the final say over personnel matters regarding high military officials. Officials whose rank is higher than brigadier general must be approved by the Guidance Department. After the Guidance Department signs off, posts and military title can be granted by the order of the supreme commander of the People’s Army. Therefore, the Guidance Department of the Party holds absolute control over the Army through exercising its right of personnel management of the officials.


N.Korea’s Leading Apparatchiks

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Choson Ilbo

Gen. Hyon Chol-hae, the 74-year-old deputy director of the general political department of the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) has been North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s most frequent companion on official occasions. Hyon has accompanied Kim, who is said to be recovering from a stroke, on 32 occasions this year.

In analysis of senior North Korean officials who have accompanied Kim on his inspections of various facilities until Aug. 14, Hyon was followed by Gen. Ri Myong-su (71), director of the administrative department of the National Defense Commission (29 occasions); Kim Ki-nam (82), director of the propaganda department of the North Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) (22 occasions); Pak Nam-gi (74), director of the planning and fiscal affairs department of the KWP (10 occasions); Kim Jong-gak (62), first vice-director of the KPA’s general political department, Pak To-chun, chief secretary of the WPK Jagang Provincial Committee, Kim Kyok-sik, chief of the KPA general staff (seven occasions); Jang Song-taek (62), director of the administrative department of the KWP (five occasions); and North Korea’s first vice foreign minister Kang Sok-ju (67) (five occasions).

During these inspections, Kim has given instructions to military officers, government officials and plant managers. The more often these elderly men accompany Kim, the closer the Unification Ministry, which carried out the analysis, considers them to the North Korean leader. Hyon, Ri, Kim and Pak ranked first through fourth in 2007 as well

Song Dae-sung, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, said there is no big change in the ranking order of those closest aides to Kim Jong-il, who are assisting Kim on his sickbed or governing North Korea on his behalf.

Hyon Chol-hae
The KPA’s general political department, which Hyon controls as deputy director, is in charge of the entire KPA organization. A graduate of the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School, which families and descendants of the anti-Japanese partisans attend, he controls the school’s graduates, most of whom serve in the military. During the Korean War, he was Kim Il-sung’s bodyguard. He accompanied Kim junior on his visit to China in 2001.

Hyon stood on the platform alongside other North Korean leaders during a military parade on North Korea’s 60th anniversary on Sept. 9. According to analysts, normally only vice marshals or higher-ranking military officers are allowed to stand on the platform, and Hyon, a general, was an unprecedented exception.

Suh Jae-jean, director of the Korea Institute for National Unification, said, “It seems that Hyon Chol-hae is currently running North Korea behind the scenes. He is expected to play a leading role in laying the foundation for the post-Kim Jong-il era according to Kim’s wishes.” The institute says Hyon also has connections with Kim’s second son Jong-chol (27).

Ri Myong-su
Ri is director of the administrative department of the National Defense Commission, North Korea’s de facto supreme leadership. As the NDC’s administrative department director, he controls inspection and intelligence activities within the KPA. Until last year, he was under Kim Jong-il’s direct command as the director of the KPA’s operations department.

Ri emerged as a strongman in the process of Kim’s succession to power in the 1970s, by displaying loyalty to him. He has been Kim’s second most frequent companion since 2003.

Ryu Dong-ryeol, a researcher at the Police Science Institute, said, “Hyon and Ri directly report to Kim Jong-il.”

Kim Ki-nam
Kim is a well-known figure in South Korea since making an unannounced visit to the Seoul National Cemetery when he was in Seoul as the chief of a North Korean delegation to a “Unification Festival” marking Liberation Day on Aug. 15, 2005. He is Kim’s mouthpiece as secretary for propaganda for the KWP Central Committee. He was the editor-in-chief of the Rodong Shinmun, the organ of the KWP Central Committee, in 1976. In 1985, he was appointed director of the propaganda department of the KWP Central Committee.

Lee Ki-dong, a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy, said, “Kim Ki-nam will be in charge of publicizing at home and abroad Kim Jong-il’s decision about a successor.”

Pak Nam-gi
Pak is in charge of North Korea’s economy. Since 1976, he has worked as an economic expert as vice chairman of the State Planning Commission, the agency that controls North Korea’s planned economy.

As the first vice-director of the KPA’s general political department, Kim Jong-gak is in charge of propaganda within the military. Kim Kyok-sik assumed the post as the chief of KPA general staff in April last year, and Pak To-chun has served as the chief secretary of the KWP Jagang Provincial Committee since 2005.

Jang Song-taek, Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law, fell out of favor with Kim in May 2004. But he came back in 2006 and has since controlled powerful agencies such as the Ministry of Public Security and the State Security Department, and prosecutors’ offices. He is reportedly close to Kim’s eldest son Jong-nam (37).

Kang Sok-ju played a major role in reaching the U.S.-North Korean Geneva Agreement in 1994.


NK Military Has Little Influence on Major Policy Decisions

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Daily NK
Yang Jung A

An expert on North Korea has recently disputed a widely circulated claim that North Korea’s hard line diplomacy is due to influence from the North Korean military.

Park Young Tack, an active duty officer at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) said, “The North Korean military usually influences the policy decisions that are related to military roles and functions only.” Park wrote this in his recent article published on January 15 in the 2007 winter edition of the Korean Journal of Defense Analysis entitled ‘The Increasing Standing of the North Korean Military and the Military’s Influence on Decision Making’.

Park said, “Unless Kim Jong Il asks the military for opinions, the military cannot take part in matters other than its own.”

It is widely believed at home and abroad that the North Korean military exerts huge influence on the country’s major policy decisions and therefore is responsible for driving the country to take a hard line.

U.S, envoy Christopher Hill said prior to his visit to Pyongyang last year that he would like to meet high-ranking military officials and persuade them to give up the country’s nuclear programs.

Park said, “It is mistaken to believe that the standing of the military is superior to that of the Party as was the case in the past, and that the military plays a key role in decision making regarding the country’s fate.”

“Many believe that the North Korean military is trying to get in the way of the inter-Korean dialogues. However, that is exactly how the Party wants the world to assess the current situation in North Korea. It is my judgment that the Party has been manipulating the situation so that the military appears to take on the role of the hard-liners,” Park said. Park stressed that the General Political Bureau of the People’s Army by itself cannot voice opposition to the nation’s current policy toward South Korea.

Park said that Secretary for Military Munitions Jun Byung Ho, United Front Department Director Kim Yang Gon, and First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Suk Ju have established and are operating a direct reporting system to Kim Jong Il. Secretary Jun is currently responsible for conducting the country’s nuclear tests, Director Kim for operations of the policy through the direct reporting system [to Kim Jong Il], and Minister Kang for foreign announcements.

“It seems that Kim Jong Il allows the military to exert influence on decision making to some extent as a reward for the military’s pledge to help build and defend the absolute dictatorship of Kim Jong Il,” Park said.

“The military circles take part in making policy decisions by offering specialized suggestions and by advocating the Kim Jong Il regime which adopted the ‘Military-First’ policy among the ruling elite, the leaders from the middle class and the lower class,” Park said. However, Park added that the military has limited influence over matters other than its own.

Park said that Kim Jong Il is also strengthening the military-friendly system to watch and hold in check the military, which can pose the biggest threat to his regime.

“When making decisions, Kim Jong Il calls the ruling elite individually for consultations and has them report to him directly,” Park said, adding, “In any case, Kim Jong Il is at the center of the decision making process and stands at the top of the decision making ladder.”

“Kim Jong Il is a policy developer who issues policy proposals more frequently than anyone in the country. Any policy proposed by Kim is considered a supreme order and becomes a law,” Park said. “If an individual at the lower levels of the state wants to make a policy proposal, he usually first contacts an authority in the relevant field who then tries to read Kim Jong Il’s mind on the policy to be proposed. Only after he receives convincing words from the authorities, the low-level cadre is able to submit his proposal. That way, he can escape censure that would result from making an unsuccessful policy proposal.”

Park said that those working at the lower level of the state authorities cooperate with each other even if they work in different departments. If there are any policy shortcomings, they try to solve them together and share the responsibilities. They also create a task force between departments for policy implementation.

Park said, “This kind of political operation has come into existence for the following reasons: First of all, Kim Jong Il prefers to have an inner-circle, minimize the number of personnel, and simplify office procedures. Second, people at the working level have to worry about censure waiting for them when their policy implementation efforts end in failure.”

“Kim Jong Il’s administration style shows that he relies on an informal channel of communication with the ruling elite.” Park said, “He keeps a tight reign on all power groups within the country including the military, and no power group dares to challenge Kim’s authority. Even if united, these groups can hardly exercise any significant influence over decision making.”


Hoiryeong Gives Special Holiday Provisions in Commemoration of Kim Jung Sook’s Birthday

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Daily NK
Lee Sung Jin, Yang Jung A

In contrast to the news that Kim Kyung Hee (Kim Jong Il’s blood sister) will visit Hoiryeong in commemoration of the 90th birthday of Kim Jong Suk, it was confirmed that only upper-level Party officers participated in the celebrations.

Rumors started circulating early this year that Kim Jong Il would visit Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung, which is the birthplace of Kim Jong Il’s mother Kim Jong Suk. However, with the commemorative event approaching, Kim Kyung Hee, instead of Kim Jong Il, was supposed to visit Hoiryeong.

A source in Hoiryeong said in a phone conversation with a reporter on the 23rd, “An event commemorating the 90th birthday of Kim Jong Suk was held in Hoiryeong from the 18th to the 20th of this month and after the 20th, celebrations were held in Pyongyang. Kim Kyung Hee, who was supposed to come, did not show up.”

He added, “Provisions resumed on the 21st in time for the holiday (Kim Jong Suk’s birthday). Items that were given out were rice, corn, noodles, and oil. Holiday provisions such as liquor, gum, juice, socks, hot pepper paste, snacks, and soap were disbursed starting on the 23rd.“

The footsteps of Pyongyang’s upper-level leaders have not ceased coming into Hoiryeong. Chairwoman Park Soon Hee of Union of Democratic Women, Im Kyung Sook of the Ministry of Commerce and other representatives females in North Korea visited Hoiryeong and participated in the 90th anniversary commemorations.

The news of Kim Jong Suk’s 90th birthday anniversary commemorations has been relayed through North Korea’s media.

The Chosun Central Television, with Kim Jong Suk’s birthday coming up, reported on the 21st that oath ceremonies at the party, army, and office levels took place in Hoiryeong on the 20th.

At the ceremony site, the broadcast relayed that large-sized banners were set up praising Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and the propagandistic signs stating, “Our greatest tribute to Mother Kim Jong Suk, the anti-Japanese heroine. May the revolutionary life and the results of the struggles of the great brethren Kim Jong Suk be immortal!”

The participants in the commemoration were Kim Il Cheol (Minister of the People’s Armed Forces), Kim Jung Gak (First Vice Director of KPA General Political Department), Choi Tae Bok and Kim Ki Nam (the secretaries of the Central Committee of the Party), Yang Hyung Sup (the Vice-Chairperson of the Supreme People’s Committee), Jeon Seung Hoon (the Vice-Minister of the Cabinet), and others high level officials.

In Hoiryeong, a joint performance by the People’s Army’s orchestra opened the day with a concerto “May the loyalty go on forever.” On the 19th, the “Nationwide Youth Students’ Poetry and Singing” took place among 3,000 participants, which consisted of youth and related persons of the Youth League Central Committee in each region.

Even prior to this, the nationwide landscape and crafts exhibitions commemorating Kim Jong Suk 90th birthday anniversary were held on the 12th at the Pyongyang International Cultural Exhibition Hall and on the 18th, a variety of events such as the opening of the Central Arts Show at the Korean Fine Arts Museum was held.

One researcher at a national policy research institute said regarding Kim Kyung Hee’s absence, “It is known that she has been suffering from an alcohol addiction for a long time, so does not make frequent public appearances.”


N. Korean leader makes reshuffle of top military officials

Monday, May 21st, 2007


North Korean leader Kim Jong-il recently made a reshuffle of his top military officials that may solidify his already firm grip on the country’s military, intelligence officials said Monday.

Ri Myong-su, former operations director of the North’s Korean People’s Army (KPA), has been named a resident member of the National Defense Commission (NDC), the highest decision-making body under the communist nation’s constitution that was revised in 1997 to reflect its military first, or “songun,” policy, an official said while speaking anonymously.

Ri was replaced by Kim Myong-guk, who had served in the post from 1994-1997, while Jong Thae-gun, an Army lieutenant general, has been named the propaganda director of the KPA’s General Political Bureau, according to the sources.

The reshuffle first appeared to be a routine rearrangement of personnel, but the sources said it may have been aimed at expanding the role and power of the already powerful NDC.

“The NDC seems to have become, at least externally, the North’s highest decision-making body as a number of top military officials have recently been appointed to (new) permanent posts of the defense commission,” a source said.

“We believe the NDC may become an actual organization in the near future with hundreds of resident staff like the other top decision-making bodies” such as the Workers’ Party, the official added.

Headed by the North’s reclusive leader, the defense commission has been the most powerful organization in the country where the military comes before everything.

But it has mostly been regarded as a faction of a group, namely the KPA, as most of its members concurrently served in other posts of the army, according to the sources.

Kim Yong-chun, the former Chief of General Staff of the KPA, was named the first deputy chairman of the NDC in April.

The sources said it is too early to determine why the commission’s permanent staff has been increased, but they said it may be linked to Pyongyang’s ruling system after Kim Jong-il.

The 65-year-old Kim has yet to name his successor, raising questions worldwide whether the reclusive leader is considering a collective ruling system after his death.

Kim was named as successor to his father, the founder of North Korea Kim Il-sung, at the age of 32 in 1974.

He has three sons from two marriages, but his oldest son, Jong-nam, 35, has apparently fallen out of favor following a 2001 incident in which the junior Kim was thrown out of Japan after trying to enter the country with a forged passport.

His two other sons, Jong-chul and Jong-un, both in their early 20s, have not held any official posts.

N. Korea enhances Kim’s defense commission
Korea Herald

Jin Dae-woong

North Korea is beefing up the National Defense Commission, a top military decision-making body directly controlled by Kim Jong-il, Seoul intelligence sources said.

Pyongyang recently conducted a major reshuffle of its top military leadership, including the repositioning of Kim’s closest confidants to the committee, they said on condition of anonymity.

Chaired by Kim, the committee is an organization independent of the Cabinet and the ruling Korean Workers’ Party. It is next only to the communist country’s president, a post permanently held by the late founder and Kim’s father Kim Il-sung since his death in 1994.

The sources said that Gen. Ri Myong-su, former operation director of the Korean People’s Army, has been appointed as a standing member of the NDC. Gen. Kim Myong-kuk has been named to replace Ri as the top operations commander.

The reshuffle followed the appointment of Vice-Marshal Kim Yong-chun, former chief of the general staff of the Korean People’s Army, as vice chairman of the NDC during last month’s general session of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the nation’s parliament.

The personnel reconfiguration, which also affected key posts in the North Korean armed forces, is seen as part of Pyongyang’s move to further enhance the NDC, a powerful state body, under North Korea’s military-first policy.

The generals have been regarded as the most influential figures in the military as they frequently accompany Kim during his field unit inspections.

The commission has the power to direct all activities of the armed forces and national defense projects, establish and disband central defense institutions, appoint and dismiss senior military officers, confer military titles and grant titles for top commanders. It also can declare a state of war and issue mobilization orders in an emergency.

The National Defense Commission, presently chaired by Kim Jong-il, consists of the first deputy chairman, two deputy chairmen and six commission members. All members are selected for a five-year term.

The reshuffles are the latest known change to the commission. Gen. Hyon Chol-hae, former vice director of the KPA General Political Bureau, moved to the post of NDC vice director in 2003.

Experts noted that the figures are taking full-time posts in the NDC and relinquishing their posts in the People’s Army.

Other current members concurrently hold posts at both organizations, sources said.

Vice Marshal Jo Myong-rok, the first vice-chairman of the NDC, also assumes the position of director of the KPA General Political Bureau. Vice Marshal Kim Il-chol concurrently serves as a member of the NDC and minister of the People’s Armed Forces.

“As high-ranking military officers have moved to the NDC as full-time members, the NDC may be preparing to take follow up measures to expand its role and function in the future,” the sources said.

The NDC has been known as a consultative body of top military leaders without extensive subordinate organizations comparable to the ruling party and the Cabinet.

The intelligence sources said the NDC may have more manpower and organization under its wing.

“The NDC began equipping itself with organizational apparatuses with the 2003 transfer of Hyon Chol-hae from the KPA position to the post of NDC,” another source said.

In addition, the NDC has continued recruiting personnel such as Kim Yang-gon, councilor of the NDC, from other government departments, to strengthen the NDC’s policy functions, sources said.

“It is in line with North Korea’s long-term move to concentrate the country’s decision-making power on Kim Jong-il and his close subordinates,” said Nam Sung-wook, North Korean studies professor at Korea University. “It is mainly aimed at preventing possible regime dissolution amid rising international pressures over its nuclear weapons program. Kim is also seen directly intervening in a resolution of the nuclear issue.”

Kim Yong-hyun, a professor at Dongguk Univsersity, also agreed that the enhancement of the NDC will lead to the centralization of power in North Korea, reducing the role of the Korea Workers’ Party.

“Through the organizational reform, the North’s regime seeks to further streamline decision-making procedures to more effectively tackle an array of issues,” Kim said.

The North Korean studies expert said it is an answer of North Korean leadership to continuing economic hardship. The leadership has given over a comparatively extensive amount of power to the Cabinet for dealing with economic stagnation.

Kim also said it could be interpreted as preparation for the post-Kim Jong-il system.

“After his death, a collective leadership led by core subordinates of Kim Jong-il is expected to emerge, so, the move could be one related to future changes,” he said.