Archive for the ‘’ Category

Border Security Goes Back to NSA

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

Information from inside North Korea suggests that jurisdiction over border security has been moved from the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces to the National Security Agency(NSA), in a special order given by new leader Kim Jong Eun which has seen border security units undergoing an administrative switch to the NSA on April 16.

Read more below:



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


UN report explains sanctions decisions

Friday, August 6th, 2010

According to the Daily NK:

The 1718 Committee of the UN Security Council has published the final version of its “Report to the Security Council from the Panel of Experts established Pursuant to Resolution 1874,”

In the report, of which the Daily NK has obtained a copy, the 1718 Committee revealed North Korean overseas accounts which had likely been used for North Korea’s illicit activities such as conventional weapons transactions and luxury goods, and the names of entities and individuals involved in those activities. The lists were submitted by UN member states.

The report singles out 17 North Korean officials thought likely to violate UN Resolutions 1718 and 1874, and outlines the reasons why they were designated by the UN member states.

They are Jang Sung Taek, Vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission and the closest associate of Kim Jong Il, Vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission Oh Keuk Ryul, Kim Young Chun, the Minister for the People’s Armed Forces, Director of No. 39 Department Kim Dong Woon, Military Supplies Secretary in the Central Committee of the Party Jeon Byung Ho, former Yongbyon technical director Jeon Chi Bu, First Vice-director of the Ministry of the Munitions Industry Chu Kyu Chang, Standing Vice-director of the People’s Army’s General Political Department Hyun Cheul Hae, President of the Tanchon Commercial Bank Kim Dong Myung, Member of the National Defence Commission Baek Se Bong, Deputy Director of the General Political Department of the People’s Armed Forces Park Jae Kyung, President of the Academy of Science Byeon Youong Rip, Director of the General Bureau of Atomic Energy Ryeom Young, Head of the Department of Nuclear Physics of Kim Il Sung University Seo Sang Il, President of Kohas AG Jacop Steiger and Alex H.T. Tsai, who is known to have provided financial, technological and other support for KOMID, and his wife, Su Lu-chi.

It also released a list of autonomous designations provided by member states, covering 19 North Korean entities. That list was made based on information collected as of April 30th this year.

They are Amroggang Development Banking Corporation, Global Interface Company Inc., Hesong Trading Corporation, Korea Complex Equipment Import Corporation, Kohas AG, Korea International Chemical Joint Venture Company, Korea Kwangson Banking Corp, Korea Kwangsong Trading Corporation, Korea Pugang Trading Corporation, Korea Pugang Mining and Machinery Corporation ltd., Korea Ryongwang Trading Corporation, Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture Corporation, Korea Tonghae Shipping Company, Ponghwa Hospital, Pyongyang Informatics Centre, Sobaeku United Corp., Tosong Technology Trading Corporation, Trans Merits Co. Ltd., and Yongbyon Nuclear Research Centre.

13 out of the 19 have direct or indirect links to Tanchon Commercial Bank and Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID).

Amroggang Development Banking Corporation is the financial arm of KOMID and related to Tanchon Commercial Bank, which has also been designated by the 1718 Committee. Additionally, Global Interface Company Inc. is owned by Alex Tsai, who is thought to have provided, or attempted to provide, support to KOMID.

Sobaeku United Corp. is involved in activities related to natural graphite, producing graphite blocks that can be used in missiles.

The report points out, “North Korea has established a highly sophisticated international network for the acquisition, marketing and sale of arms and military equipment, and arms exports have become one of the country’s principal sources for obtaining foreign exchange,” and goes on to say, “Agencies under the National Defense Commission (NDC), the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and the Korean People’s Army (KPA) are most active in this regard.”

The report explains, “The Second Economic Committee of the National Defense Commission plays the largest and most prominent role in nuclear, other WMD and missile-related development programs as well as in arranging and conducting arms-related exports.”

It adds, “The General Bureau of Surveillance of the Korean People’s Army is involved in the production and sale of conventional armaments.”

The report points out that North Korea has opened 39 accounts with 18 overseas banks in 14 countries. 17 of which are held with Chinese banks.

Besides China, 11 banks in eight European and former Soviet countries (Russia, Switzerland, Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Italy, German, Belarus and Kazakhstan) hold 18 North Korean accounts. There is one account in Malaysia.

“The DPRK also employs a broad range of techniques to mask its financial transactions, including the use of overseas entities, shell companies, informal transfer mechanisms, cash couriers and barter arrangements,” the report notes.

According to experts on North Korea, since North Korean overseas illegal activities are all led by the loyal group surrounding Kim Jong Il, U.S. financial sanctions in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions 1817 and 1874 and also U.S. Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 have the potential to be a great pressure on the Kim Jong Il regime.

The Panel of Experts, which was appointed by the UN Secretary-General on 12 August 2009 to author the report, are David J. Birch (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, coordinator), Masahiko Asada (Japan), Victor D. Comras (United States of America), Erik Marzolf (France), Young Wan Song (Republic of Korea), Alexander Vilnin (Russian Federation), and Xiaodong Xue (People’s Republic of China).

Read the full story here:
Report Explains Sanctions Decisions
Daily NK
Kim Yong Hun


DPRK announces military personnel changes

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

UPDATE 2: According to Yonhap:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il appointed his loyal aide to the No. 2 post in the National Defense Commission on Friday, state media said, another sign of the aging leader consolidating his circle.

O Kuk-ryol was named the commission’s vice chairman, second only to Kim, said the North’s Korean Central News Agency.

North Korean media have said little about O, considered to be a combat-savvy veteran who served as the North’s air force commander and chief of the operational department of the ruling Workers’ Party.

Baek Seung-joo, a Seoul-based analyst, said O helped Kim Jong-il win support from the military in the early 1980s after he was tapped as successor of his father and North Korean founder Kim Il-sung.

“O is a senior military figure whom Kim Jong-il trusts,” Baek said.

O, 78, replaces Kim Yong-chun, who was recently promoted as minister of the People’s Armed Forces, the counterpart of South Korea’s Defense Ministry.

N. Korean leader promotes loyal aide in military shakeup

UPDATE: A short biography of Kim Yong Chun (Big h/t again to Mike):

Born 1936, Kangwon Province

Mangyongdae Revolutionary School
Kim Il Sung University

Positions Held
1960: Secretary, South Phyongan Provincial Committee
1980: Alternate Member, CCKWP (October)
1982: Lieutenant General, Korean People’s Army (year presumed)
1986: Director-General, Strategy Department, delegate to 8th SPA (November), and member of CCKWP (6th term, 12th plenary session, December)
1987: Order of Kim il Sung Award (April)
1990: Delegate, 9th SPA, representing Solbong, Kangwon (April)
1992: Appointed General, KPA (April)
1993: Director-General, General Munitions Mobilization Bureau, KPA (October)
1994: Commanding Officer, KPA Sixth Army Corps (March) and member of Kim il Sung Funeral Committee (July)
1995: Member of O Jin-u Funeral Committee (February), appointed Vice-Marshal and Chief of Staff, KPA (October)
1998: Delegate, 10th SPA (July), appointed to the NDC (September)
2007: Elected Vice Chairman of the NDC, at the ninth session of the 11th SPA (April)
2009: Appointed as Minister of People’s Armed Forces (February)

Ongoing: Member of the CCKWP and the State Funeral Committee

According to KCNA, Ri Young ho was last promoted in 2002:

Pyongyang, April 14 (KCNA) — Kim Jong Il, Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army, issued order no.00152 to raise the military ranks of KPA commanding officers on the occasion of the Day of the Sun. According to the order dated April 13, Kim Yun Sim, Kim Jong Gak and Ryo Cyun Sok were promoted to generals.

The military rank of colonel general was conferred on Paek Sang Ho, Kang Yong Ho, Ri Thae Il, Kim Yang Jom and Pak Sung Won and that of lieut. General on Ri Yong Ho, Ri Yong Gil, Hwang Hong Sik, Pak Su Chol and Pang Kuk Hwan. Ri Yong Rae and 39 others were promoted to major generals.

Coincidentally, on that same day  in 2002 KCNA announces that Jang Song Taek’s brother was given a military promotion:

Military rank of KPA vice marshal conferred on Jang Song U

Pyongyang, April 14 (KCNA) — The military rank of vice marshal of the Korean People’s Army was conferred on Jang Song U, according to the April 13 joint decision of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the DPRK National Defence Commission.

According to KCNA yesterday: 

Minister of People’s Armed Forces and Chief of General Staff Newly Appointed in DPRK

Pyongyang, February 11 (KCNA) — A decision of the DPRK National Defence Commission and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea was released on February 11 in the name of Kim Jong Il, chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and chairman of the WPK Central Military Commission.

Vice Marshal of the Korean People’s Army Kim Yong Chun was appointed as minister of the People’s Armed Forces of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and KPA General Ri Yong Ho as chief of the KPA General Staff, according to the decision.

Former Defense Minister, Kim il Chol, was 70 when he was appointed to the post in 1998.  According to the media at the time:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has picked Vice Marshal Kim Il Chol, a close confidant, as defense minister, virtually completing a reorganization of the military, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Tuesday.

The KCNA report monitored in Tokyo said Kim Il Chol, about 70 years old, was promoted from first vice minister to minister of the People’s Armed Forces.

The post of defense minister had been vacant since the death of Choe Kwang in February 1997.

Kim Jong Il issued the order Monday in his capacity as chairman of the National Defense Commission (NDC), a post which makes him North Korea’s head of state under the revised Constitution.

The Supreme People’s Assembly, the North’s parliament, revised the country’s 1972 Constitution on Saturday, abolishing the state presidency.

Kim Il Chol was a frequent companion of Kim Jong Il, the supreme commander of the North Korean army.

These changes come at the same time as other personnel changes are announced.  See related posts here and here.

Hat tip to Mike.


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.


Download glitch fixed: North Korea Google Earth (version 11)

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
Download it here

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the eleventh version.

Additions include: Mt. Paegun’s Ryonghung Temple and resort homes, Pyongyang’s Chongryu Restaurant, Swiss Development Agency (former UNDP office), Iranian Embassy, White Tiger Art Studio, KITC Store, Kumgangsan Store, Pyongyang Fried Chicken Restaurant, Kilju’s Pulp Factory (Paper), Kim Chaek Steel Mill, Chongjin Munitions Factory, Poogin Coal Mine, Ryongwun-ri cooperative farm, Thonggun Pavilion (Uiju), Chinju Temple (Yongbyon), Kim il Sung Revolutionary Museum (Pyongsong), Hamhung Zoo, Rajin electrified perimeter fence, Pyongsong market (North Korea’s largest), Sakju Recreation Center, Hoeryong Maternity Hospital, Sariwon Suwon reservoir (alleged site of US massacre), Sinpyong Resting Place, 700 Ridges Pavilion, Academy of Science, Hamhung Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung, South Hamgyong House of Culture, Hamhung Royal Villa, Pork Chop Hill, and Pyongyang’s Olympic torch route. Additional thanks go to Martyn Williams for expanding the electricity grid, particularly in Samjiyon, and various others who have contributed time improving this project since its launch.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.  Additionally, this file is getting large and may take some time to load.


The People’s Safety Agency’s Authority Is Strengthened

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwee

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.


The end of ‘Songun’? Part II

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Three weeks ago, the Daily NK specualted that preparations for North Korea’s political succession are leading to an end of “Songun” and a resurgence of the Korean Workers Party.  A recent story in the Donga Ilbo seems to be reinforcing this claim, noting that several assets in the military’s portfolio are being moved to various state institutions and ministries (where the Worker’s Party and probably Kim’s key supporters exercise more oversight).

Here is an excerpt from the story:

A knowledgeable source on North Korea said yesterday, “[Leader] Kim Jong Il has ordered the military to transfer its foreign operations to his cabinet and is implementing radical reform of military authorities.”

Kim ordered to reduce the number of executives and the size of the ruling Workers’ Party, government and military by 30 percent at the end of last year.

The source also said officers in the chain of command including the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, the National Security Council, the Ministry of State Inspection and the General Staff Department began retiring in January.

The North Korean leader is also reportedly streamlining troop distribution. The North’s Border Guard Brigade has removed regiments and the role of the minting agency has shrunk.

The Ministry of People’s Security, considered the North’s main police organization, is seeing its status rise. No longer under the control of the prosecution, the ministry can now probe corruption in the prosecution and civilian damage caused by the military.

An Anti corruption campaign and purges might also be a part of this transition.

Read the whole story here:
N.Korea Changing ‘Military-First’ Policy
Donga Ilbo