Archive for the ‘Ministry of Administration’ Category

DPRK government delivering rice to high risk areas

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Daily NK
Jung Kwon Ho
2/22/2010

In late January, Kim Jong Il held a meeting of his highest officials, including Jang Sung Taek, Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Party, aiming to find ways to alleviate the negative side effects of November’s currency redenomination. In the meeting, the group apparently agreed to release emergency supplies of rice to those on the brink of starvation.

According to a Daily NK source, “Following the meeting, which he chaired, Kim Jong Il handed down a handwritten decree to the chief secretaries of all provinces on January 20 in which it was stated, ‘Preventing anyone from starving to death is your obligation.’”

Chief Secretaries of Provincial Committees of the Party, the recipients of the decree, handed on the threat to their subordinates, warning provincial cadres, “You will resign if anyone starves to death, because this was a direct instruction from the General.”

In the decree, the three most vulnerable provinces were named as Yangkang, South Hamkyung, and Kangwon Provinces, so the officials governing those provinces are understandably nervous. They are the provinces where most casualties occurred during the March of Tribulation, and they remain the most food insecure.

Under the decree, the Ministry of Procurement and Food Policy makes daily deliveries of 5kg of relief rice to each people’s unit and 5-15kg to each factory and enterprise. Chairpersons of people’s units and managers of factories are required to observe the circumstances of the people under their control and provide those in the greatest danger of starvation with relief rice first.

In late January, quite a number of households were reportedly facing starvation due to the aftermath of the currency redenomination; notably sky high prices coupled to strict market regulations. However, there have been no reports of starvation since relief rice deliveries began on February 1.

Alongside the chairpersons of People’s Units, cadres working for local government offices are required to cross-check whether or not starvation is occurring. In theory, they are reprimanded if they do not report the situation truthfully.

Upon hearing the news, a defector in Seoul commented, “It seems that the people will not lie still and suffer that dire situation. Kim Jong Il may have done this because he senses a crisis situation this time.”

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

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

Daily NK
Choi Choel Hee
10/21/2008

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.

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Kim Jong il asserts control of border regions

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

As reported earlier this year by the Daily NK, Kim Jong il’s brother in law, Jang Song Taek, was leading an anti-corruption campaign in North Korea’s northern provinces along the Chinese border. Aside from controlling financial leakages, these efforts could be interpreted as attempts by Kim to gain control over military-owned trade companies.

According to a past report:

The inspection group withdrew all trade certificates with exception of those certificates belonging to the families of anti-Japanese guerrilla fighters, and those certificates issued by the Ministry of Finance or the Shinuiju Municipal Administrative Committee.  Therefore, presently at Shinuiju Customs, all import items without trade certificates issued by the above mentioned three groups have to be sent back to China.

Jang’s efforts, though seemingly effective at reasserting financial control of the region, had apparently taken their toll on local commerce:

In Hyesan, Yangkang Province, markets have been significantly reduced in size and scope recently, due to the anti-socialist group’s inspections[.]

[T]he merchants were at unease when under inspection by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other governmental organizations which govern the jangmadang [markets].

For example, transportation of goods by traders has withered away since last year, as the authority of the People’s Safety Agency (PSA) [controlled by Jang] rose and [it] launched [] a strict crackdown on traders’ belongings.

The source explained the situation in Hyesan, that “Hyesan had become the city where Chinese goods were traded for the cheapest value because Chinese goods [enter the country] at Hyesan[.] [During] the (PSA) inspection period [goods] could not be transported inland due to the inspection of trains and cars. Lives of the common people became even tougher than before, since goods could not be circulated through the jangmadang in spite of their low prices.”

“The more stringent the regulation became, the more bribes cadres received and worsened were the lives of people,” the source added.

(NKeconWatch: I have “cleaned up” some of the grammar here to make it more readable.  If you want to see the original version, click here.)

And in Sinuiju:

The intensive inspection of Shinuiju, in which over 70% of Chinese-North Korean commercial traffic occurs, caused several aftereffects inside North Korea: commercial traffic passing through Shinuiju and Dandong decreased by half compared to the past, and the aftermath of the inspections in Shinuiju added fuel to the fire of price rises in jangmadang goods across the country.

For instance, sugar, which is a raw material for doughnuts or candies that are consumed the most by average civilians in the jangmadang, carried a price of around 1,500 won per kilogram before the inspections, but in mid-May, it rose to 2,100 won and vegetable oil hiked from 5,500 to 7,500 won per kilogram. Such an increase in prices also caused a significant threat to the survival of citizens who made a living off the jangmadang trade.

But the final result of the evaluation of the Shinuiju inspection, which caused quite a stir externally, has purportedly been negligible.

The source said, “The volume of trade has decreased over several months and the number of visitors to China has also been reduced by half. The results of the inspection have not produced too much difference, except for the execution of 14 corrupt officials.”

The source further noted, “The only change which has been visible to the eye is the rise in the cost of bribes offered to North Korean customs from 40 to 80 dollars per hundred kilograms of goods. There was a rumor that the loading volume carried into the North would be fixed at 120kg, from 360kg, but this has not been done yet.”(Daily NK)

The Daily NK now reports that in the wake of these developments, Kim Jong il’s National Defense Commission (NDC) has moved in and directly taken over the inspections—and economic conditions have improved:

[Markets] have become lively again in the past few days as inspections by the National Defense Commission (NDC) have gotten underway.

A source in North Korea reported to Daily NK on Friday that “Merchants in Hyesan these days are fish in water. They say that they would not mind at all going through such inspections for an entire the year!”

Part of the reason for the turn around has been a change in focus.  Whereas Jang’s work hit many “ordinary” North Koreans (particularly those working for the wrong trading companies), NDC inspections are focused on controlling the mid- to upper-level cadres.  It is entirely speculatory to ask whether Kim’s strategy was to unleash Jang to get control of the region and afterwards assert direct control himself, or whether complaints from locals forced the NDC to end Jang’s campaign.

Of course this is all unverified information from inside North Korea, so who knows how much of it is correct!

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The People’s Safety Agency’s Authority Is Strengthened

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwee
6/17/2008

The Central Committee of the Chosun (North Korea) Workers’ Party recently commanded the People’s Safety Agency (PSA) to increase its authority.

A source from North Korea reported in a telephone interview with Daily NK on the 11th that “According to a document from the Central Committee of the Party, the legal authority of agents of the PSA is being strengthened.”

The source explained that “From now on, agents of the PSA can investigate every criminal offense committed by the military, the National Security Agency, the public prosecutors and cadres of courts. This command from the Party was delivered to the cadres’ lectures over the country on May 10.

The most remarkable part is that in every field except anti-nation or anti-regime crimes the PSA can inspect and search the houses of suspects from the military, the Party, the NSA and the public prosecutor’s office.

Through this, control over the military, which abused its power and was acknowledged as a public enemy by average residents for a decade under the military-first policy, is being systematized.

The document stated clearly that the PSA has the right to detain anyone who disobeys the agents’ onsite inspections in their homes and even to arrest them, according to the source.

One proviso only was added that when the agents undertake a house search of the cadres of the Party, they have to receive prior approval from upper levels within the PSA and they do not have the authority to arrest cadres of the Party on the spot as a suspect.

The source explained that up to this point general crimes committed by soldiers were just dealt with by the military police or the Defense Security Command of the People’s Army. Since the Shimhwajo Case in 1998, the PSA has not examined the cadres of the NSA or prosecutors.

The source relayed that regulations regarding punishment towards agents who intentionally overlook an inspection or who leak information on an inspection are specified in the document.

Since Jang Sung Taek, a brother-in-law of Kim Jong Il, led the Ministry of Administration of the Chosun (North Korea) Workers’ Party, the political authority of the PSA accordingly started being strengthened. The source explained that “In the past, the PSA was not able to intervene in any case without the permission of the prosecutors, but since October 2007 the agents of the PSA were granted the authority to deal with the arrest of criminals and with sending them to court themselves.

The position that Jang Sung Taek took in October 2007 was that the Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Chosun (North Korea) Workers’ Party is responsible for general public security organizations such as the National Security Agency, the People’s Safety Agency, the Central Prosecutor Office and the Special Court.

The source analyzed that “The Party did not push legislation on the expansion of the authority of the PSA, because political conflicts with other governmental organizations would be brought out.”

Some say that the background to the promotion of the PSA stems from Kim Jong Il’s fear that the authority of the NSA and of the military were too big while the Party’s power was extraordinarily weakened.

One other source said that “Although the military or information organizations have attempted many coups in human history, the police force has always sided with the government. Therefore, Kim Jong Il drastically strengthened the authority of the PSA.”

The source added that “Regarding the promotion of the PSA, the cadres of the Party took concrete examples of assassinations such as Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania and Park Chung Hee of South Korea, emphasizing the Romanian police’s fight against the military in order to protest Ceauşescu.”

“The People’s Safety Agents,” which is a newspaper circulated just in the PSA, and lecture materials for the PSA lately describe the PSA as the “escort warrior for the General” or “the second Escort Bureau,” the source explained, regarding the change of the PSA’s state.

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