Archive for the ‘Central Committee’ Category

Kim Jong-un’s Party Congress prep: construction projects

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

Kim Jong-un has made at least two announcements recently, as the Korean Worker’s Party heads for its 7th Party Congress in May, about construction projects to be done. One of them is an orphanage in Ryanggang province, Daily NK reports:

Projects underway to promote Kim Jong Un’s legacy as a leader ahead of the 7th Party Congress in May are said to be in full swing across the nation. One such project taking place in Ryanggang Province calls for the full mobilization of residents to build an orphanage as an expression of the leader’s “love for the next generation,” Daily NK has learned.

“Authorities have recently been harassing residents saying that the orphanage under construction next to Kim Jong Suk Teachers’ College in Yonbong-dong needs to be ready for the Marshal’s (Kim Jong Un) inspection by the time of the Party Congress,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on Thursday. “The provincial party office has been hurrying people along, claiming the construction must be completed before the event.”

Progress was said to be slow during the winter, which was unseasonably cold, but construction efforts are now appearing to ramp up.

The project is being driven by the provincial head secretary and other cadres from the provincial Party and People’s Committee and is being promoted as a means to express loyalty to the leader, who has emphasized his “love for children,” said the source.

She added that cadres associated with the efforts, who have confidently stated that the facility will see completion before the Party Congress, have also been intensifying crackdowns on those seeking to avoid mobilization, out of concern that failure to complete the project on time may lead to issues of accountability.

“Vendors who are busy trying to make a living in the market were often able to get out (of mobilization) with bribes, but even that isn’t easy now,” a separate source in Ryanggang Province explained.

“The price for skipping a day of mobilization is now up to 10 RMB (13,000 KPW) a day per head, so some find it more affordable to just go to the construction site.”

The 13,000 KPW demanded is enough to purchase approximately 2kg of rice based on current prices, which is far from negligible for most members of the public. The higher price tag in effect acts as a tool to turn up the heat on people for mobilization.

The pressure to complete the project before the major political gathering has led to mobilization of students in the afternoons and workers at state-run factory as well.

The near full mobilization also involves specialized colleges, meaning that among the younger generation, stormtroopers (who are working on a railway project in Samjiyon) are seemingly the only group among ordinary residents that are exempt from the orphanage project.

Full article:
Kim Jong Un calls for construction of new orphanage in time for Party Congress
Kang Mi Jin
Daily NK
2016-04-19

IFES at Kyungnam University has also published an analysis of the news about the Ryomyong street project, which Curtis has already written about in this blog. They note that the recent sanctions do not seem to have altered plans for the project. Kim Jong-un’s rhetoric instead highlights the project as a blow against the international community and the US — North Korea will go full steam ahead on its own policies and no outside pressure can hold them back (my emphasis below):

On March 18, the state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim Jong Un declared the construction of ‘Ryomyong Street’, which is to be built between Kumsusan Palace of the Sun and the Ryonghung Crossroads in Pyongyang. The street’s name signifies a place where ‘the dawn breaks in the Korean revolution’. Kim also mentioned that the area is to be surrounded by magnificent skyscrapers and multi-level buildings that fit the geographical characteristics surrounding the palace, displaying the Party’s idea of giving importance to science and talents in socialist Korea.
[…]
Along these lines, Kim put emphasis on the policy of securing building materials in constructing the new street and to diversify the size, design and color of decorative objects on the exterior of buildings. He also instructed for the mobilization of ‘soldier-builders’ who previously worked on the construction of Mirae Scientists Street. The construction of the new street shall be carried out with “Mallima speed” during the country’s ‘70-day campaign’ in run-up to the Party Congress scheduled for this upcoming May. The news report also stated that “the party, state, and society should render positive assistance to the construction and the Cabinet, commissions, ministries and national institutions take the lead in this work.”

According to the report, Kim Jong Un also said that “The construction of the street is not merely for formation of a street but serves as a political occasion of clearly showing the spirit of the DPRK standing up and keeping up with the world, despite all sorts of sanctions and pressure by U.S. imperialists and their followers, the appearance of the country advancing to realize the great ideal of the people and truth that the DPRK is able to be well-off in its own way and nothing is impossible for it to do.” The construction of the street appears in part as a means to show off the strength of ‘Songun’ Korea, following in the footsteps of Kim Jong Il’s policy.

Despite the strong sanctions imposed upon the country by the international community, North Korea is striving to achieve some form of economic success. The 70-day campaign has been initiated in the run-up to the Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party. North Korean media are boasting about the country’s successes on the production front since the campaign’s initiation, saying “under the Juche ideology, people are working hard especially in the fields of electricity, coal, metal, and railroad transportation that they have achieved great success in the [campaign’s] first week.”

Full article here:
North Korea to Construct ‘Ryomyong Street’ Despite Sanctions
Institute for Far Eastern Studies
03-29-2016

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The UNSC sanctions and the North Korean economy

Friday, March 11th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

In the past few days, Daily NK has carried a number of interesting reports on how the latest round of UNSC sanctions have impacted the domestic economy in North Korea. Below, I’ve gathered a compendium of sorts. I’ll continue updating it as more stories surface.

Only a short while after the sanctions were announced, trucks carrying mineral exports were blocked from entering China. Some businesspeople were apparently surprised at China’s relatively forceful implementation of the sanctions, given that little impact had been seen from past sanctions:

Chinese authorities began prohibiting mineral exports from North Korea on March 1st in a move not strictly related to the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 2270, which outlines sanctions against North Korea. North Korean authorities and foreign-earning currency enterprises tied to the military did not see this move coming and expressed embarrassment and shock.

In a telephone conversation with the Daily NK on March 4, a source from North Pyongan Province said, “Beginning on March 1, mineral exports such as coal and ore have not been allowed to pass through Chinese customs into China. Trucks loaded with mineral deposits have been idly waiting in front of Chinese customs near Dandong. The foreign trading companies are simply waiting for instructions from the higher authorities.”

Full story:
Trucks loaded with mineral exports blocked from entering China
Seol Song Ah
Daily NK
2016-03-07

A few days later, Daily NK reported that “panic” had begun to set in, not just among high-level businesspeople and traders involved in the mineral extraction industry, but also among market vendors who worry that they won’t be able to buy products for import from China:

“The news that the UN resolution containing sanctions against North Korea passed unanimously is spreading like wildfire through [domestic] cell phones. People in the North had little interest in sanctions in the past, but these days they are expressing concern that ‘this time things are going to be different,’” a source in South Pyongan Province reported to Daily NK on March 7.

A source in North Hamgyong Province corroborated this news, reporting the same developments on the ground in that region.

“Sinuiju is known as the gateway to China and the ultimate symbol of friendly relations between our two nations. That’s why news of its closure to mineral exports is causing dismay,” she explained, adding that a rumor has also taken off that international customs offices in other border towns such as North Hamgyong’s Rajin and Hoeryong will be shuttered.

Further anxiety is being stoked by the fact that trusted allies such as China and Russia are participating in the sanctions and the fact that residents are getting detailed information about the resolution’s specific clauses.

“People are further concerned because things have apparently changed significantly since China helped the country to overcome the difficulties during the ‘Arduous March,’ [famine] in the mid 1990s. People from all over the country are concerned that China might shut the border down totally. If that happens, it will become difficult for everyone to make a living,” the source indicated.

“Wholesalers and market vendors are feeling the most vulnerable to the UN sanctions. Their greatest fear is that they won’t be able to buy products. Merchants who have been selling Chinese products at cheap prices are expecting a cost increase and have momentarily discontinued sales.”

Full story:
Panic sets in as sanctions specifics circulate 
Daily NK
Choi Song Min
2016-03-08

Not just mineral exports to China have taken a hit. Food products specialties like hairy crab, frequently imported to cities like Yanji in China from North Korea’s northern fishing cities like Rajin, are now being sold at domestic markets instead:

“These days items that were previously hard to find because they were earmarked for export are suddenly emerging at the markets,” a source from North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Thursday. “The price haven’t gone down enough yet, so you don’t see too many people actually buying them. But you do see flocks of curious people coming out to the markets to see all the delicacies for sale.”

She added, “High-end marine goods like roe, sea urchin eggs, hairy crab, and jumbo shrimp and produce like pine nuts, bracken, and salted pine mushrooms were once considered to be strictly for export, but now they’re easy to find. The number of such products, referred to as ‘sent back goods,’ at Sunam Market and other markets around Chongjin is growing by the day.”

Additional sources in both North and South Hwanghae Provinces reported the same developments in those regions.

Despite the sanctions that have already kicked in, products from China are still flowing into North Korea. however, the goods sold in bulk to China–minerals like coal, marine products, etc.– have nowhere to go and are therefore making their way back into the country.

Full story:
Would-be food exports to China popping up in jangmadang
Choi Song Min
Daily NK
2016-03-11

Politically, too, the topic of sanctions has become highly sensitive. According to reports by Daily NK, surveillance authorities have increased their focus on certain groups that they deem as more likely than others to speak out about the added pressures from the sanctions:

The boost in surveillance is interpreted as a move by the regime to nip in the bud any rumblings of political unrest engendered by members of society more likely to speak out about the pressure squeezing North Korea. Those tracing the lines of the circumstances leading to this pressure, namely a volley of sanctions lobbed at North Korea by the international community in response to its nuclear test and rocket launch, are a threat to the regime’s authoritarian grip over the population.

A source with the Ministry of People’s Security [MPS, or North Korea’s equivalent of a police force] informed Daily NK on March 8 that internal orders came down at the beginning of March for the MPS to survey and track the recent movements of those anyone ascribed to the “wavering” cohort. Two separate sources in the same province verified this information, but Daily NK has not yet confirmed if the same orders are in effect in other provinces.

Full story:
MPS steps up surveillance to suppress potential ‘pot stirrers’
Kang Mi Jin
Daily NK
2016-03-11

(UPDATE 2016-02-18): a couple of days ago, Daily NK published another piece on this topic. They note that market prices have remained relatively stable, and that many people don’t seem to treat this sanctions round as anything out of the ordinary:

Market prices in North Korea have remained relatively stable despite stronger sanctions enforced by the international community, including China, as well as greater limitations on market operationsdue to nationwide preparation for Pyongyang’s May Party Congress.

Multiple Daily NK sources within the country have confirmed that rice prices in Pyongyang, South Pyongan Province’s Sinuiju, and Ryanggang Province’s Hyesan are trading at 5,100 KPW, 5,150 KPW, and 5,080 KPW per kilogram, respectively, similar to levels before sanctions were stepped up (5,100 KPW, 5,100 KPW, 5,260 KPW).

This is also the case on the foreign exchange front, with 1 USD trading for 8,150 KPW in Pyongyang, 8,200 KPW in Sinuiju, and 8,170 KPW in Hyesan, showing some signs of strengthening for the local currency from pre-sanction rates (Pyongyang 8,200 KPW, Sinuiju·Hyesan 8,290 KPW).

“There had been concern we would see fewer goods in the market because of UN sanctions, but in reality, there hasn’t been much difference,” a source from North Pyongan Province told Daily NK in a telephone conversation on Sunday. “The state is placing restrictions on opening hours for the market for the ‘70-day battle’ (mobilization for the Party Congress), but the markets have remained lively, and there’s not much change in terms of market prices.”

Further confirming trends previously reported by Daily NK last week, an additional source in North Hamgyong Province reported yesterday that some people had stocked up food worried about sanctions from the UN, but that this hasn’t led to a violent gyration in prices. “Actually, in some regions, we’re seeing prices of certain products drop,” he noted.

This price stability seen in the marketplace, in spite of the sanctions having kicked in earlier this month, can be attributed to the fact that most products are still trading as they would have save one of the North’s main export items: minerals.

The simple reality that people have experienced similar times before is also at play. “In the past, people who had stockpiled food during other sanctions discovered that after the political climate evened out a bit they were unable to get their money’s worth for everything they bought. This is why we’re seeing less of it,” a source from Ryanggang Province explained. “Initially there was a little bit of noise, but in general people are remaining calm.”

Full article:
Market prices so far showing resilience against sanctions
Daily NK
Kang Mi Jin
2016-03-14

Also, Marcus Noland recently launched a “Black Market Contest” at the Witness to Transformation blog, letting readers bet on what will happen with the unofficial exchange rate as a result of the sanctions:

The exchange rate issue has re-emerged with the imposition of sanctions. My colleague Steph Haggard leans toward the view that the imposition of a broader set of sanctions, particularly with respect to mining, together with enhanced Chinese enforcement will generate a balance of payments cum financial crisis with uncertain implications for political stability. I am more skeptical of both the additional coverage and the likely Chinese rigor in enforcement.

But this is an empirical issue. If the sanctions bite, then one would expect to see their effects manifested in the black market rate on the won. So we decided to offer up this conundrum to the wisdom of the crowd, or at least of our readership, in this Witness to Transformation Black Market Contest. Yes, you can ply your wits against North Korean loan sharks and black market traders. Or maybe the North Korean monetary authorities. Here’s how it works.

Steph thinks that within two months, evidence of the impact of sanctions should begin to emerge. So the object of the contest is to guess the black market won-dollar rate two months hence. Since the sanctions resolution passed 2 March, we will use the first DailyNK average rate applying to the post-2 May period as the reference. So you have the next month to analyze trade data, contact spies in Dandong, or call in favors in Switzerland to inform your estimate. Whoever guesses closest to the May black market rate wins. In the event of a tie, whoever submitted their entry first wins.

Please list your estimate in the comments section below. The entry period closes 15 April.

Full article:
Witness to Transformation Black Market Contest
Witness to Transformation blog
Marcus Noland
2016-03-16

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Friday fun with North Korea’s new slogans

Friday, February 19th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

What better way to start off the weekend than to go through North Korea’s latest batch of political slogans (“Joint calls/공동구호”)? These were issued collectively by the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission on Wednesday February 17th, and printed on the frontpage of Rodong Sinmunas part of the run-up to the 7th Party Congress to be held later this year.

Below I have gathered those that relate to the economy, and a few other interesting ones, with brief annotation:

The calls underlined the need to make hurrah for the WPK and socialism resound far more loudly this year when the Seventh Congress of the WPK is to be held by staging an all-out death-defying struggle for building a thriving nation and improving the people’s living standard.

The Byungjin line is alive and well.

Let’s dynamically wage this year’s general advance in the same spirit as shown in succeeding in the H-bomb test!

Let’s build an economic giant as early as possible with the strength and the spirit of Korea and at the Korean speed!

Send more satellites of Juche Korea into space!

As often before, the satellite launch and the hydrogen bomb test are tied into the theme of economic development: both are technological advancements, showing the overall progress of the economy.

Produce more new-generation electric locomotives and passenger cars!

A shout-out to the domestic car industry?

Put the manufacture of Korean-style world-class underground trains on a serial basis!

The domestically manufactured subway cars haven’t been forgotten. One wonders if people living outside Pyongyang feel as strongly about them.

Step up the modernization of the mining industry and keep the production of nonferrous metal and non-metallic minerals going at a high rate!

Provide more resources for building an economic giant by channeling effort into prospecting underground resources!

At least now Jang Song-taek can’t touch them anymore.

Make the foreign trade multilateral and diverse!

This is interesting, and a clear statement about an important rationale for the SEZs: North Korea will remain politically and economically vulnerable as long as China continues to be its single largest trading partner by a large margin.

Let’s greet the 7th Party Congress with proud achievements in the improvement of the people’s living standard!

The people “will never have to tighten their belts again”, as Kim Jong-un said in his first public speech in 2012.

Achieve a great victory on the front of agriculture this year!

Which the regime has already claimed it did last year. The UN doesn’t agree.

Let’s give a decisive solution to the problem of consumer goods!

Let’s produce more world-competitive famous products and goods!

North Korean media has highlighted strides in consumer goods production several times this year.

Make Wonsan area an icon of city layout and build it into a world-level tourist city!

A shout-out to the Wonsan tourist zone, presumably.

Establish Korean-style economic management method guided by the Juche idea in a comprehensive manner!

Sounds like the management reforms, with greater autonomy for enterprises, are still on the table.

Let the entire party and army and all the people turn out in the forest restoration campaign!

And make sure they “properly conduct fertilizer management“. This is the only reference among the slogans to the forestry campaign, where the regime has publically acknowledged some crucial and systemic problems, but is yet to find a credible solution.

Put an end to proclivity to import!

Does this tell us something about North Korea’s trade balance that the numbers aren’t showing?

The Korean People’s Internal Security Forces should sharpen the sword for defending their leader, system and people!

Note that “people” comes after both “leader” and “system”.

Let us thoroughly implement our Party’s policy of putting all the people under arms and turning the whole country into a fortress!

Enhance the fighting capacity of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards by intensifying their drills as the anti-Japanese guerillas did in Mt. Paektu!

Develop and produce a greater number of various means of military strike of our own style that are capable of overwhelming the enemy!

Enhance the fighting capacity of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards by intensifying their drills as the anti-Japanese guerillas did in Mt. Paektu!

These four slogans seem to be saying that the Four Military Guidelines, adopted in 1962 by the Central Committee, are still very much in play: 1) arming the population, 2) fortifying the country, 3) establishing a cadre-based army, and 4) modernizing military equipment. Mao would probably have been happy to know that his People’s War Doctrine lives on in North Korea.

The whole list of slogans is very long, and saying that policy areas need to improve, or that production in a certain area needs to go up, isn’t much of a policy line. Still, it’s interesting to see what areas are highlighted.

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Economic reforms to come at North Korea’s Party Congress, Daily NK says

Monday, January 11th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

Daily NK today carries a piece reporting on economic reforms to potentially come at the Korean Worker’s Party Congress coming up this year:

In terms of the possibility of declaring new economic reforms, the source explained he would announce reform measures that stay within the overall framework of socialism. Taking an extra step forward from the new economic management system’s ‘June 28 Measures,’ which pertained to agricultural policies, the pending package of reforms will include provisions authorizing individuals to directly manage factories. In practice, this would enable the state to collect more taxes from the donju [newly affluent middle class] by providing them with more freedom to make money.

Aspects of these changes are already underway in select locales. “In some regions, municipal People’s Committee business offices have been granting donju increased license to earn money,” he said. “Provided that people can offer up the initial 6,000 RMB fee and build their own factories with basic infrastructure such as sanitation facilities they are relatively uninhibited in their business operations.”

Hints at reforms like these were largely absent from Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Address, I argued in an earlier post.

Read the full article:
Major organizational changes to be announced at Party Congress
Choi Song Min
Daily NK
2016-01-11

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Japanese police raid home of Chongryun chairman

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

UPDATE 1 (2015-5-29): Office 39 has been connected to the Japanese investigation. According to the Daily NK:

An investigation launched by Japanese police has revealed that Office 39, a special department charged with raising funds for Kim Jong Un’s use, is involved in illegal operation exporting pine mushrooms to Japan, Yomiuri Shimbun, a Japanese daily, reported on May 27th.

During a police raid on the home Huh Jong Do, the son of the head of the pro-North General Association of Korean Residents in Japan [Chongryon], the authorities uncovered documents revealing correspondence between the group and Office 39, revealing that North Korea has been exporting pine mushrooms to Japan in conjunction with Chosun Specialty Sales, an affiliate of Chongryon.

An official with the investigation said it was the first time documents explicitly stating “Office 39” have come to light, leading police to push ahead with the investigation and assert the shadowy agency’s direct involvement in the illicit operation.

Both Huh and Kim Yong Jak, head of Chosun Specialty Sales, were arrested on May 12th for violating laws administration of foreign currency. Police investigations revealed that these two men had imported approximately 1,800 kg of pine mushrooms from North Korea in September of 2010–a clear violation of Japan’s ban on trading with North Korea, implemented after North Korea’s second nuclear test in 2009.

Meanwhile, Washington D.C.-based Voice of America, quoting Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun, that Office 39, Huh, and Chosun Specialty Sales were all involved in the pine mushroom smuggling ring, dividing the profits among the involved parties.

ORIGINAL POST (2015-3-26): According to the Japan Times:

The head of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, had his home searched by police on Thursday, and two South Korean men were arrested on suspicion of illegally importing matsutake mushrooms from North Korea.

Raids took place at six locations, including the Tokyo home of Ho Jong Man, chairman of Chongryon, a body which has functioned as a de facto North Korean embassy for many decades in the absence of diplomatic ties between Tokyo and Pyongyang.

Observers said the raid on the chairman’s home could affect stalled bilateral talks on Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

Police arrested Lee Tong-chol, 61, president of a Tokyo-based trading house, and Yoshihiko Kin, 42, an employee of the company. They are suspected of illegally importing about 1,200 kg of matsutake mushrooms worth around ¥3 million via China in September 2010.

The mushrooms are believed to have been sold in Japan, mislabeled as Chinese-grown produce.

Japan has banned imports from North Korea since October 2006 as part of economic sanctions imposed in response to Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programs.

Both suspects are residents of Japan, and both denied the allegation. Investigators quoted Lee as saying he does not understand why he should be arrested, while Kin denied all knowledge of the matter.

Police are investigating the relationship between the suspects and Ho, who is a member of North Korea’s top legislature.

After the early morning raid on his home in Tokyo’s Suginami Ward, Ho told reporters angrily he does not even know the name of the trading company.

“The investigation is done unlawfully and this would lead to serious problems in the relationship” between North Korea and Japan, he said.

“This is political suppression against the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan,” he said.

Touching on the ongoing investigation into the fate of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, Ho said the Japanese authority is making things worse, interfering with the investigation by deliberately worsening relations with North Korea.

Meanwhile, a senior police investigator said authorities suspect a link between the illegal trade and Chongryon, and that they will do everything they can to investigate.

To that end, police have so far searched more than 10 locations, including the trading house and the homes of Lee and of Ho’s son last May.

The locations searched Thursday include the Tokyo home of the pro-Pyongyang group’s vice chairman.

Read the full story here:
Police search home of Chongryon leader over suspected North Korea mushroom shipment
Japan Times
2015-3-26

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On the 349 slogans (not 310)–and the politburo meeting resolution

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Yesterday nearly every major media outlet reported that the DPRK had published 310 new slogans. This was inaccurate. The DPRK published 349 slogans. Here they are numbered in a PDF document. You might marvel that I would go and count them like this, but it was not that hard. Another friend told me there were 375, and he was also wrong.

Here is what Yonhap had to say about the slogans:

North Korea’s key governing party organs have released a set of campaign slogans calling for painstaking efforts to improve the livelihoods of its citizens, Pyongyang’s state media said Thursday.

The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea announced the 310 slogans [ACTUALLY 349] to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the country from the 1910-45 Japanese colonial rule as well as the founding of the governing party, according to the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).

Noteworthy among the long list were calls to shore up the North Korean economy and enhance the livelihoods of the country’s citizens.

Among the slogans calling for livelihood enhancement was, “Make tireless efforts with an extraordinary determination to resolve the problems of the people’s living at any cost!,” according to the KCNA.

The slogans also stressed the regime’s willingness to mend ties with South Korea.

“It is a long-cherished desire of all the fellow countrymen and an urgent task of the nation to put an end to the tragedy of national division that has lasted 70 years,” one of the slogans read.

Lately, the North has shown signs of attempts to thaw long-standing tension with Seoul, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressing his desire to open inter-Korean talks during his New Year’s address earlier this year.

North Korea often announces such slogans encompassing all sectors of society on special occasions, hinting at the communist country’s policy direction going forward.

But more importantly, today (February 13th) KCNA announced a meeting and resolution of the KWP’s politburo:

On February 10, Juche 104 (2015), the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea met in Pyongyang, capital of the revolution.

Attending the meeting were members of the Presidium of, and members and alternate members of, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

The meeting adopted a resolution of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, titled, “On Greeting the 70th Anniversaries of the Founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Liberation of the Country as Revolutionary, Auspicious Events of Songun Korea Which Is Prospering under the Leadership of the Great Party.”

The resolution stated that our Party, army and people will greet before long the 70th anniversaries of the founding of the glorious Workers’ Party of Korea and the liberation of the country in a meaningful way.

A grand celebration of the anniversaries will constitute an important occasion for exalting the brilliance of the immortal exploits performed by the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, who achieved the historic cause of national liberation, founded a revolutionary party of the Juche type and led our revolution along the road resplendent with victory, and for demonstrating the high prestige and militant might of our Party, which is adorning the new century of the Juche era with proud victories and prosperity.

Holding fast to the banner of independence, the great Comrade Kim Il Sung defeated the brigandish Japanese imperialists by fighting a bloody war for 20 years and thus achieved the historic cause of national liberation; and on the basis of the organizational and ideological groundwork of building a party and the glorious revolutionary traditions created in the flames of the anti-Japanese revolution, he founded a revolutionary party of the Juche type, the Workers’ Party of Korea.

By enhancing the leadership role of the Party in the revolution and construction, he led to victory the Fatherland Liberation War, postwar reconstruction and two stages of social revolution, built the people-centred socialist system of our own style, achieved socialist industrialization of our country from scratch, and turned it into a powerful socialist country, which is independent, self-supporting and self-reliant in national defence.

The great Comrade Kim Jong Il formulated ComradeKim Il Sung’s revolutionary ideology as Kimilsungism and developed our Party into an ideologically pure and organizationally integrated body in which monolithic ideological and leadership systems are firmly established, into a motherly party which has formed a harmonious whole with the masses and serves them, into a seasoned and experienced party which is possessed of a high level of leadership art, and into a promising party which has definitely been assured of the leadership being inherited.

In the days of the Arduous March and forced march, when our people and revolution faced the worst-ever hardships and trials, he developed our Party into the guiding force of the Songun revolution, firmly safeguarding the sovereignty of our country and nation, developing our motherland into a single-heartedly united politico-ideological power and into an invincible military giant, which no formidable enemy dares to provoke, and kindling the flames of the industrial revolution in the new century to lay a firm foundation on which we can effect a great leap forward, great innovations, in building our country into an economic giant.

The exploits of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, who laid an eternal cornerstone for the victorious advance of our country and revolution by leading the cause of building a party of the Juche type and a prosperous country along the road resplendent with victory, will shine for all ages to come.

It is the steadfast will of the respected Comrade Kim Jong Unto further develop our Party and our Republic, which were founded by Comrade Kim Il Sung and led by him and Comrade Kim Jong Il, into the party and state that will shine forever together with the ideas and august names of the great leaders.

By formulating Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism as the eternal guiding ideology of our Party and revolution, he has provided a fundamental guarantee for developing ours into the party of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and under the unfurled banner of modelling the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism, he is wisely leading to victory the showdown with the United States and the building of a thriving nation.

Under his outstanding and seasoned leadership, the prestige and authority of our Party are being raised remarkably, and the history and tradition of victory of heroic Korea are being carried forward to the hilt, and the cause of building a thriving nation is advancing full of vigour despite the incessant moves of the imperialist reactionaries to isolate and suffocate our country.

The respected Comrade Kim Jong Un said:

“We must hold up the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung andKim Jong Il as the eternal leaders of our Party and people, as the sun of Juche, and step up modelling the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism so as to build on this land a dignified, thriving socialist country, a powerful Paektusan nation, as wished by the great Generalissimos.”

All Party members, service personnel and people, rallied behind the Party ring after ring under the slogan “Let us all turn out in the general offensive to hasten final victory in the revolutionary spirit of Paektu!” must make greater efforts to create a new speed of the times, the speed of Korea, in building a thriving socialist country and demonstrate to the whole world the prestige and mettle of the prospering Songun Korea.

The Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea has adopted a resolution on the measures aimed at greeting the 70th anniversaries of Party founding and national liberation as revolutionary, auspicious events of Songun Korea which is prospering under the leadership of the great Party by giving full play to the revolutionary spirit and mettle of Paektu. The resolution reads in the following vein:

First, we will hold the great Comrades Kim Il Sung andKim Jong Il in high esteem as the eternal leaders of our Party and people and add eternal brilliance to their immortal revolutionary exploits.

We will splendidly lay out the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, where the great Generalissimos are preserved in their lifetime appearances, as the eternal sanctuary of the sun and defend it to the death, and have their bronze and coloured statues set up at such important units as those visited by them.

We will renovate the Korean Revolution Museum as befits the storehouse of national treasures, where one can learn the revolutionary careers of the peerlessly great men of Mt Paektu and their immortal exploits in a comprehensive way, spruce up other bases for education in revolutionary traditions and intensify educational work through them.

Second, we will strengthen the Party and consolidate rock-solid the single-hearted unity of our Party and revolutionary ranks.

This is a decisive guarantee for carrying forward through the generations and accomplishing under the leadership of the respected Marshal Kim Jong Un the revolutionary cause of Juche and the revolutionary cause of Songun pioneered on Paektu.

We will establish stringent organizational discipline whereby the whole Party acts as one under the monolithic leadership of the respected Marshal, and consolidate the political and ideological position of our revolution by taking hold of public sentiments and uniting the masses of the people firmly around the Party.

Third, we will hold fast to the Party’s line of the Songun revolution so as to build up our national self-defence capability.

In order to achieve final victory in the showdown with the United States and speed up the building of a thriving socialist country, it is urgent to strengthen the People’s Army, the buttress and main force of the Songun revolution, develop defence industry and step up the work of arming all the people and fortifying the whole country on a high level.

We will establish the monolithic command system of the respected Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un more firmly across the People’s Army and press on with the movement of winning the titles of O Jung Hup-led 7th Regiment and Guards Unit, in order to develop the army into an invincible force of guards who are fully possessed of the spirit of defending their leader and country to the death, the strongest in idea and faith, and capable of winning all battles.

We will display the same spirit and mettle as we did in conquering outer space to manufacture larger numbers of powerful, cutting-edge military hardware of our own style that are of high precision, light, unmanned and intelligent, so that we can cope with modern warfare, and develop defence industry by relying on latest science and technology.

Fourth, we will raise a fierce wind and achieve a major leap forward on all the fronts where we are building a thriving socialist country, in order to usher in a great golden age of Songun Korea.

That all sectors and all units of the national economy accelerate the onward march to bring about an upsurge in the building of an economic giant is a sure guarantee for fully demonstrating the country’s might as a politico-ideological and military power and achieving a brilliant triumph in the struggle to build a thriving nation and defend socialism.

We will open up a shortcut to the building of the knowledge-based economy by developing science and technology and going beyond the cutting edge, and bring about a radical turn in improving the people’s standard of living by resolving the food problem of the people with crop cultivation, animal husbandry and fishing as the main thrusts and directing great efforts to developing light industry.

In particular, we will firmly take hold of agriculture as an area of major thrust, enlist and concentrate nationwide efforts for agricultural production, speed up the building of the livestock farming base in the Sepho area, and make a fresh turn in the development of animal husbandry.

We will open up a new era of “gold sea” and make the whole socialist country permeated with the fragrant smell of fish and other kinds of seafood by decisively bolstering up the fishing sector, and direct uninterrupted efforts to developing light industry so as to increase the production of consumer goods for the people.

We will thoroughly translate the Party’s Juche-oriented idea on architecture into reality and usher in a new golden age of construction by completing without fail and by the dates set by the Party such major projects as building the Sci-Tech Complex, Mirae Scientists Street, second-stage Wisong Scientists Dwelling District, Terminal 2 of Pyongyang International Airport, Building No 3 of Kim Il Sung University, Pyongyang University of Architecture and Secondary School No 1 and renovating the Central Zoo and Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace.

We will make a leap forward in the vanguard sectors, basic industries, including electric-power generation, coal mining, rail transport and metal, chemical and machine-building industries, and other major sectors of the national economy.

We will direct nationwide efforts especially to expediting the construction of the Paektusan Songun Youth Power Station, the multi-tier power stations on the Chongchon River and the Wonsan Army-People Power Station, and to stepping up modernization of factories and enterprises.

We will bring about a new turn in the fields of education, public health service, art and literature, mass media and sports and in conserving the cultural heritage of our nation and exalting their brilliance by putting spurs to the building of a civilized socialist nation.

We will enlist the whole Party, the entire army and all the people in restoring the forests of the country and improving the work of land administration so as to transform the appearance of the country’s land.

We will arouse the whole society to vigorously conduct mass-based movements like those of winning the titles of Forest of Socialist Patriotism and Model County in Afforestation, and push ahead with the work of covering the whole country with fruit and other trees and flowers on the strength of cooperation between the service personnel and people.

Fifth, we will make a vigorous effort to achieve the historic cause of national reunification and promote international solidarity with our revolution.

Holding aloft the slogan “Let the whole nation join efforts to open up a broad avenue to independent reunification in this year of the 70th anniversary of national liberation!” we will resolutely frustrate the anti-DPRK war moves and nuclear and human rights rackets by the US imperialists and the south Korean puppets and open up a broad avenue to independent reunification by uniting firmly all the fellow countrymen in the north, in the south and abroad under the banner of patriotism, under the ideal of By Our Nation Itself; we will also develop foreign relations in a multilateral and proactive way, and strengthen international solidarity with our revolution.

Sixth, we will organize and hold events in celebration of the 70th anniversaries of Party founding and national liberation as grand political festivals.

We will hold in grand style a parade of the service personnel of the ground, naval, air and anti-aircraft and strategic forces of the Korean People’s Army and a procession of Pyongyang citizens in celebration of the Party’s 70th anniversary so as to fully demonstrate at home and abroad the might of the service personnel and people united single-heartedly behind the respected Marshal.

We will also hold different political events in a meaningful way to mark these landmark anniversaries.

The resolution, in its last part, stressed the need for Party organizations and other political organs at all levels to thoroughly implement the tasks set forth in the resolution by scrupulously arranging organizational and political work to carry it out and regularly keeping up-to-date with the progress of the work, and for the Cabinet and other relevant organs to take administrative and practical measures to carry out these tasks.

Looking back with deep emotion upon the immortal revolutionary exploits the peerlessly great men of Mt Paektu performed for the development of the Party and the building of a prosperous country, our service personnel and people are now filled with a firm determination to work harder to achieve the final victory of the revolution under the leadership of the great Party.

Invincible is the cause of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the party of the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, which is advancing under the leadership of the respected Comrade Kim Jong Un holding aloft the banner of independence and Songun, and certain is the final victory of the building of a thriving socialist nation, a powerful Paektusan nation.

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Rungra 88 Trading Company

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

According to the Daily NK:

Neungna 88 [Rungra 88],  Trading Company, located in Suncheon, South Pyongan Province, has been a popular workplace for women, offering jobs in clothes manufacturing. It is one of the companies tasked with earning foreign currency for the North, but recently, with the wages standing at a mere 10th of individually employed workers, more people are leaving their posts, the Daily NK has learned.

“Workers employed by breweries or bakeries receive roughly 200,000 KPW a month,” a source in South Pyongan Province reported to Daily NK on Tuesday. “But at Neungna 88, workers on the clothing line only make 20,000 KPW even though they work in unsatisfactory environments.”

The trade company falls under the Chosun Workers’ Party’s Finance and Accounting Department and exports to China everything from coal and iron ore to medicine, alcohol, clothing, and health supplements, earning back foreign currency. The profits are offered up to the Department or are used to procure holiday gifts for Party cadres under Kim Jong Eun’s name.

Neungna 88 in Suncheon is a branch of the headquarters in Pyongyang, and focuses on exporting clothes in collaboration with China, meaning the company brings in the yarn, fabric, and designs from China, and then exports the final products back. It also runs a restaurant serving pizza to procure additional funds. Increasing foreign food availability is the latest method employed by these foreign-currency organizations to encourage resident spending, encouraged by the increased demand. For foreign currency-earning enterprises to extend their activities domestically is indicative of the increasing purchasing power of the middle-class.

“If you get to Daedong River in Sunchon, you’ll see a big sign on a three-story building that reads Neungna 88 Trading Company,” the source explained. “The first floor is a pizza place, and on the second and third stories, there are some 150 women making clothes.”

Their monthly wages are 20,000 KPW [2.3 USD], which is almost seven times higher than other state-run companies, but the lowest among trading companies.There are no standards as to how much these trading companies have to pay their employees, and each company decides based on the profits and amount of work allocated.

Unlike men, it is very rare for women in their teens or 20s to work for a trading company. Despite this fact, some women work on garment manufacturing lines because of the regular food rations and extra benefits offered on national holidays, regardless of the low wages.

However, recently more people have been quitting their jobs, as those who are hired by private businesses are able to receive up to a ten-fold increase in wages and work in a more pleasant environment, the source explained. This portends a growing number of women who are seeking more than a low wage with rations and instead looking for better employment opportunities.

With this trend, the company has been trying to hire more women with experience at state-run apparel factories, but not many are willing to due to the low salary. “Because of this, unless Neungna 88 raises its wages it will create obstacles for exports, not only due to technical difficulties, but also low morale,” she concluded.

Read the full story here:
Women Leaving Low Paying Trade Co. Jobs
Daily NK
Seol Song Ah
2014-10-16

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Politburo meeting and 1st session of the 13th SPA

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

UPDATE 3 (2014-4-23): Michael Madden and Ruediger Frank have published articles in 38 north analyzing the “election” results.

UPDATE 2 (2014-4-17): 3th Supreme People’s Assembly Holds First Session, Few Changes in Pak Pong Ju’s Cabinet
Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The first session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) held by the Kim Jong Un regime concluded on April 9, 2014 showing no major personnel changes within the Cabinet. The existing regime will continue to lead the North Korean economy, and their recent economic reform measures are expected to gain momentum.

At this session, it was decided that North Korea will retain Prime Minister Pak Pong Ju as leader of the Cabinet, and that many of the other high-level officials will maintain their positions in economic affairs.

It is therefore expected that the Kim Jong Un regime’s economic reform measures, such as the expansion of farmers’ authority (through the Subworkteam Management System), the construction of economic development zones (EDZs), and the system promoting the independent economic management of factories (and all other production facilities), will be implemented smoothly and stably.

It is also expected that North Korea will ramp up the implementation of its economic management improvement measures due to their recent success, which exceeded the state’s expectations. This directly coincides with the decision to retain Pak Pong Ju as Premier, and is an effort to secure the stability, continuity and longevity of North Korean economic policy.

Only three high-level officials in the economic department were replaced at this first session of the SPA: Han Yong Guk replaced Kim Kwang Yong as the forestry minister, Kim Chon Gyun replaced Paek Ryong Chon as the President of the Central Bank, and Ri Je Son was appointed as the Minister of Atomic Energy Industry.

The Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry is presumed to be an expanded and reformed version of the General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE), which previously operated as an entity under the Cabinet. Established in 2013 at the 7th session of the 12th SPA, the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program, nuclear policy, and the “byungjin line”, a policy that emphasizes the parallel development of economy and nuclear weaponry.

In 2013, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced the establishment of the Ministry of Atomic Energy Industry, saying it will “both modernize and systemize the nation’s atomic energy industry.” In the announcement, the KCNA also said, “because [the Ministry] has been founded on a firm base of cutting-edge technology, both the production and quality of nuclear materials will increase, and development will be made in self-sustaining nuclear powered industries.”

The newly appointed Ri Je Son has served as the General Director of the GBAE since 1997, and was the target of United Nations Security Council sanctions after North Korea’s second nuclear test in 2009.

Han Yong Guk has risen up through the ranks in the forestry sector, and Kim Chon Gyun has previously served as both director and vice-president of the Central Bank of the DPRK.

These small changes in Cabinet personnel do in fact signify efforts to maintain the stability of the nation’s economic policy, but the fact that these changes are so few in number also signifies that, after the execution of Jang Song Thaek, “re-shuffling” of personnel within the Cabinet had already taken place to some degree.

Before his execution, Jang Song Thaek had influences on many ministries within the Cabinet, including the ministries of commerce, metal and coal industries, and the Cabinet’s Extractive Industries. Since his execution, North Korea has replaced the head of these ministries.

UPDATE 1 [1st session of SPA] (2014-4-9): KCNA has posted many articles on the first session of the SPA. I have archived the important ones below:

Story 1: 1st Session of 13th SPA of DPRK Held  (KCNA) (PDF). Notes: Kim Jong-un elected as First Chairman of the NDC. State posts determined. One interesting agenda item was not elaborated on: “2. Election of the State Guidance Organ of the DPRK”.

Story 2: DPRK National Defence Commission Elected (KCNA):

Pyongyang, April 9 (KCNA) — The following National Defence Commission was elected at the First Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK:

First chairman of the NDC of the DPRK Kim Jong Un

Vice-chairmen of the NDC Choe Ryong Hae, Ri Yong Mu and O Kuk Ryol

Members of the NDC Jang Jong Nam, Pak To Chun, Kim Won Hong, Choe Pu Il and Jo Chun Ryong.

Yonhap reports on Choe Ryong-hae:

Choe Ryong-hae, a top military official, has become a truly influential figure second to only North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 9 when the newly launched North Korean parliament elected him as new vice chairman of the communist country’s most powerful body, National Defense Commission (NDC), during its first session.

Choe, the director of the North Korean army’s General Political Bureau, took up the mighty post that had been kept vacant since Jang Song-thaek, a powerful uncle of the North Korean leader, was executed on treason charges in December.

With his NDC appointment, Choe has grabbed all of the No. 2 positions of the North’s three core power bodies, the Political Bureau of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee and the party’s Central Military Commission.

Story 3: Presidium of Supreme People’s Assembly of DPRK Elected (KCNA):

Pyongyang, April 9 (KCNA) — The following Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK was elected at the First Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly:

President of the Presidium of the SPA of the DPRK Kim Yong Nam

Its Vice-Presidents Yang Hyong Sop and Kim Yong Dae

Its Honorary Vice-Presidents Kim Yong Ju and Choe Yong Rim

Its Secretary General Hong Son Ok

Its Members Kim Yang Gon, Thae Jong Su, Jon Yong Nam, Hyon Sang Ju, Ri Myong Gil, Kim Jong Sun, Kim Wan Su, Ryu Mi Yong, Kang Myong Chol, Kang Su Rin and Jon Kyong Nam.

Story 4: Members of DPRK Cabinet Appointed (KCNA) (PDF).

Yonhap reports:

Meanwhile, the North apparently opted for stability by making no dramatic changes in a Cabinet shakeup, which the parliament rubber-stamped during its session.

The North’s octogenarian titular head of state, Kim Yong-nam, retained his position as president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, with Premier Pak Pong-ju also keeping his job.

What is notable is that the North replaced its foreign minister. Ri Su-yong, a former ambassador to Switzerland, was named to replace Pak Ui-chun as the top diplomat of the communist country.

Ri is known to have served as a guardian of leader Kim and his younger sister Kim Yo-jong when they studied at an international school in Switzerland in the 1990s.

NK News reports on other changes:

Mun Myong Hak replaced Ri Yong Yong as Minister of Coal Industry
Kim Yong Gwang replaced Han Hyo Yon as Minister of Metallurgical Industry
Ri Hak Chol replaced Kang Min Chol as Minister of Mining Industry
Han Ryong Guk replaced Kim Kwang Yong as Minister of Forestry
Kim Kyong Nam replaced Ri Song Ho as Minister of Commerce
Pak Chun Nam replaced Hong Kwang Sun as Minister of Culture
Kim Chon Gyun replaced Paek Ryong Chon as President of the Central Bank
Pak Myong Chol replaced Kim Pyong Ryul as President of the Supreme Court (not a cabinet position)

Story 5: Director of Supreme Public Prosecutors Office Appointed, President of Supreme Court Elected (KCNA)

Pyongyang, April 9 (KCNA) — The 1st Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK appointed Jang Pyong Gyu as director of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office and elected Pak Myong Chol as president of the Supreme Court.

Story 6: Panel Committees of SPA of DPRK Elected (KCNA)

The following Legislation Committee and Budget Committee, panel committees of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK, were elected at the 1st Session of the 13th SPA of the DPRK:

Legislation Committee of the SPA of the DPRK
Chairman Choe Pu Il
Members Jang Pyong Gyu, Pak Myong Chol, Pak Thae Dok, Thae Hyong Chol, Cha Hui Rim and Pak Myong Guk.

Budget Committee of the SPA of the DPRK
Chairman O Su Yong
Members Pak Yong Ho, Kye Yong Sam, Hong So Hon, Kim Hui Suk, Choe Yong Il and Pak Hyong Ryol.

Story 7: Statistics on the SPA members (KCNA)

The elected deputies to the SPA are the genuine people’s representatives who are devoting themselves to strengthening the DPRK government and accomplishing the revolutionary cause of Juche, remaining loyal to the idea and guidance of supreme leader Kim Jong Un.

Among the SPA deputies are anti-Japanese revolutionary fighters who participated in the anti-Japanese armed struggle led by President Kim Il Sung and veterans of the Fatherland Liberation War.

17.2 percent of the deputies are service personnel who are performing shining feats at posts to defend the country and worksites to build a rich and powerful country, true to the Songun revolutionary leadership of Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un.

Workers account for 12. 7 percent, cooperative farmers 11.1 percent and women 16.3 percent. They are bringing about shining labor innovations in the van of the heroic advance to build a thriving socialist nation.

Also among the deputies are officials of the party and power bodies, administrative and economic organs and working people’s organizations, those in the fields of science, education, public health, literature and arts and media and various other sectors and those of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan and organizations under it.

Winners of Order of Kim Il Sung, Kim Il Sung Prize, Order of Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Il Prize account for 30.2 percent, recipients of the titles of the DPRK hero and labor hero 14. 6 percent and recipients of academic degrees and titles including professors and doctors and scientists, technicians and experts 91.7 percent.

3.9 percent of the deputies are aged below 39, 66.9 percent 40-59, 29.2 percent above 60 and 94.2 percent of them graduated from universities or received similar level of education.

Story 8: Report on Implementation of State Budget for 2013 and State Budget for 2014 (KCNA)(PDF).

16% of the total expenditure was spent for national defence, thus contributing to smashing the enemies’ reckless moves to ignite a nuclear war and the anti-DPRK confrontation racket and powerfully demonstrating the dignity and might of the DPRK.

45.2% of the total expenditure went to the field of economic construction to consolidate the foundation of the self-supporting economy, bring a surge in the production in various fields of the national economy including agriculture and usher in a heyday in construction.

38.8% of the total expenditure was spent for the field of cultural construction including education, healthcare, sports and music and arts, contributing to the enforcement of popular policies and the building of a highly-civilized socialist nation.

This year’s state budgetary revenue and expenditure have been shaped in such a manner as to meet the financial needs for realizing the Party’s plan to build a thriving nation as early as possible and carrying out the national economy plan.

The state budgetary revenue is expected to grow 4.3% over last year. Out of this, transaction revenue is expected to swell 4.5%, the revenue from the profits of state enterprises 7.9%, that from the profits of cooperative organizations 4.8%, that from real estate rent 9.5%, that from social insurance 5.1%, that from sale of properties and price differential 2.4%, other revenues 1.7% and the revenue from economic and trade zone 5.1%.

This year’s state budget envisages that provinces, cities and counties will ensure the expenditure with their own incomes and deliver revenue to the national budget for their fulfillment of the plan for local budgetary revenue and expenditure.

The state budgetary expenditure is expected to increase 6.5% over last year. Out of this, spending for the fields of agriculture, stockbreeding and fishery is expected to go up 5.1%, that for capital construction 4.3%, that for science and technology 3.6%, that for the vanguard sector of the national economy and the fields of basic industry and light industry 5.2%, that for education 5.6%, that for healthcare 2.2%, that for social insurance and social security 1.4%, that for sports 17.1% and that for culture 1.3%.

15.9% of the total state budgetary expenditure is expected to be spent for national defence this year and a huge amount of educational aid fund and stipends is to be sent to the children of Koreans in Japan.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s Korea Real Time:

The last publicly available figure for Pyongyang’s annual budget, in 2008, was 451.3 billion North Korean won. Based on the latest available market rate, that would be roughly equivalent to $61.8 million. Using that figure to calculate spending on national defense would give a figure of around $8.65 million.

Here are the pictured from Rodong Sinmun:

 2014-04-10-SPA-1

 

2014-04-10-SPA-2

 

2014-04-10-SPA-3

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

1. The Daily NK has an interview with a participant in the 12th SPA.

2. Here is 13th SPA “election” coverage.

ORIGINAL POST [Politburo] (2014-4-9): KCNA reports on the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Worker’s Party:

Meeting of Political Bureau of C.C., WPK Held under Guidance of Kim Jong Un

Pyongyang, April 8 (KCNA) — A meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea was held under the guidance of Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, on April 8.

It was attended by members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK, and members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK.

Vice-premiers of the Cabinet and some department directors, first vice-department directors and vice-department directors of the C.C., the WPK were present at the meeting as observers.

The meeting discussed the issue of reinforcing the organization for increasing the leadership role and function of the Party as required by the developing revolution.

It discussed a proposal for forming the state leadership body to be submitted to the First Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly.

It also discussed an organizational matter.

Decisions on the relevant agenda items were unanimously adopted at the meeting.

Kim Jong Un at the meeting set forth important tasks to be fulfilled to further strengthen the WPK to be an invincible revolutionary party, firmly protect the dignity and sovereignty of the country and dynamically accelerate the work to improve the standard of the people’s living and the building of a rich and powerful country.

The meeting held under the guidance of Kim Jong Un marks a historic occasion that encouraged the service personnel and people in the struggle to dynamically advance along the road of independence, Songun and socialism under the uplifted banner of great Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism and provided an important milestone in bringing earlier the building of a thriving nation and a great revolutionary event of national reunification.

Here are photos from Rodong Sinmun:

2014-04-09-politburo-1

 

2014-04-09-politburo-2

 

2014-04-09-politburo-3

Here is coverage in the Daily NK.

Read the full story here:
Meeting of Political Bureau of C.C., WPK Held under Guidance of Kim Jong Un
KCNA
2014-4-8

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Jang Song-thaek purge [UPDATED]

Monday, December 9th, 2013

UPDATE 30 (2014-12-1): According to the JoongAng Ilbo, the purge continues:

North Korea is engaged in another purge of people close to Jang Song-thaek, the once powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong-un who fell from grace and was executed last Dec. 12, sending a deep chill through the top ranks of the Workers’ Party and the country’s elite.

According to a report to be published Monday by the Institute for National Security Strategy, which is run by the National Intelligence Service, dozens of senior party members were executed or stripped of their titles in a second phase of a purge of allies of the fallen Jang.

Some were executed on treason charges, heightening fears among the top party elite with connections to Jang.

The report says the second purge began after the collapse of a new 23-story apartment building that killed more than 400 people in Pyongyang in May. Enraged by the accident, the 31-year-old leader blamed “remnants of Jang Song-thaek” for the collapse because the building was constructed by the Ministry of People’s Security, which used to be overseen by Jang.

The report says 20 officials were either executed by firing squad or sent out of Pyongyang in the purge. Choe Pu-il, head of the security ministry who is also known as a basketball coach of Kim when he was young, was demoted and has been out of public sight since July.

In September, nearly 20 members of the Propaganda and Agitation department and Guidance department of the Communist Party were also shot to death on charges of being anti-party, or guilty of bribery, having improper relationships with women and taking drugs.

In October, the report says about 10 party members were shot to death for their connection to Kim’s uncle. One senior secretary from the Workers’ Party’s Haeju committee was also allegedly executed for watching television dramas from South Korea in October.

Some were executed for trivial reasons, such as changing a song lyric that originally praised Kim Jong-un while singing karaoke, the report says.

The string of executions has the entire elite in Pyongyang on edge. According to the report, Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong, who was the de-facto guardian for Kim Jong-un when he studied in Switzerland, fretted about his future because he failed to stop a United Nation’s resolution calling Kim to be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

“Minister Ri Su-yong feared he could not predict what would befall him after all his diplomatic efforts failed to stop the UN resolution,” wrote senior researcher Hyun Sung-il in the report’s opening statement.

Researcher Hyun was a former North Korean diplomat in Zambia who defected to the South in 1996.

One senior official at the research institute said there is a rumor among top party members that their country could crumble in less than 10 years in such conditions.

“When analyzing Kim’s lip movements during his chats with elderly party members on television, it is not rare to find him insulting them with foul language,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

UPDATE 29 (2014-8-30): The Asahi Shimbun reports on speculated collateral damage:

The purge and execution of North Korea’s de facto No. 2 man eight months ago has resulted in uncertain fates for his associates, some of whom have since been promoted and another likely incarcerated in a political prison camp.

Jang Song Thaek was the uncle to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un through marriage to the younger sister of Kim Jong Il, the late father and predecessor of Kim Jong Un.

Tokyo, Seoul and other parties believe struggles over concessions set the stage for the purge of Jang, who served as vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.

The cadre of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea included many who had worked with Jang.

Kim Yang Gon, director of the party’s United Front Department, Kim Yong Il, director of the party’s International Department, and Kang Sok Ju, a party secretary, all worked under Jang when he was a section chief in the party’s Organization and Guidance Department in charge of the Foreign Ministry.

Choe Ryong Hae, another party secretary, and Mun Kyong Dok, former chief secretary of the Pyongyang municipal party committee, both worked with Jang when he held a senior position in the party’s youth work department.

Kang Sok Ju remains influential even after Jang’s execution in December. He was likely appointed a party secretary in charge of international affairs in April.

South Korean government officials said Kang recently met a visiting delegation of European political parties. Kang told the delegation that talks between Washington and Pyongyang are expected to take place in January next year, after U.S. midterm elections in November, according to the officials.

Choe Ryong Hae was also appointed a party secretary in April, although he was dismissed as director of the General Political Bureau of the military.

“Choe was held in low regard within the military but remains in the forefront because he has the trust of Kim Jong Un,” said a source well-versed in North Korean affairs.

Ri Su Yong, who is believed to have been under Jang’s direction in the former Commission for Joint Venture and Investment, was promoted to foreign minister in April.

Ji Jae Ryong, ambassador to China and a purported close aide to Jang, also remains politically active.

But life has turned miserable for Mun Kyong Dok, who Tokyo and Seoul believe has likely been sent to a political prison camp.

Kim Yang Gon has been spared a fall from grace, but rumors say he was seriously injured with a broken leg or is receiving about six months of political re-education.

Kim Yong Il may remain the director of the International Department, but he has undeniably lost his clout. There are rumors about his possible transfer to an ambassadorship.

That raises questions about why Jang’s purported associates have been treated differently.

Tokyo and Seoul believe struggles between Jang and the military over concessions set the stage for Jang’s purge.

Jang ordered concessions held by trading companies and other parties under the military’s umbrella to be moved to the Cabinet, the party’s Administrative Department, and other sectors under his own influence, partly because Kim Jong Il had misgivings about the military’s rise in power. The offended military likely co-opted Kim Jong Un to engineer Jang’s purge, according to the story.

No major change has, in fact, been seen in North Korea’s political line since Jang was purged.

“The incident did not develop into a full-scale purge of all officials concerned because it was not a political struggle,” a South Korean government official said.

Choe and other senior officials have taken turns avoiding being mentioned in official news reports for certain periods of time since Jang was purged. They were apparently questioned during those periods over whether they received any distribution of interest from Jang, the findings of which likely decided the fates of officials associated with him.

UPDATE 28 (2014-8-7): The South Korean media reports on the continuing fallout from the Jang purge:

The North Korean regime has shut down the Workers Party department once headed by purged eminence grise Jang Song-taek and executed or interned 11 high-ranking officials, sources said Sunday.

One of them was burned alive.

A source said the regime is preparing a third purge of officials who supported Jang. The first purge involved his family, relatives and high-ranking party officials, while the second purge underway. The third will target his supporters in provincial chapters of the Workers Party.

The source said Jang’s elder sister Kye-sun and her husband and ambassador to Cuba Jon Yong-jin, as well as their son-in-law Kim Yong-ho, who was head of a trading company, were executed. But ambassador to Malaysia Jang Yong-chol, Jang’s nephew, escaped with his life.

He was sent to a concentration camp shortly after Jang Song-taek’s execution but was ordered to return to Pyongyang without a job after South Korean media reported rumors of his execution, the source added.

Jang’s closest confidants Ri Yong-ha and Jang Su-gil as well as nine other high-ranking party officials were purged, while around 100 lower-ranking party officials loyal to Jang were sacked.

O Sang-hon, a deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Security, was “executed by flamethrower,” the source said.

The reason for the horrific method that he had turned the ministry into Jang’s personal protection squad, the source added. O managed a bureau in the ministry as his personal security service and raised its status to the same rank as officials guarding leader Kim Jong-un.

UPDATE 27 (2014-5): For what it is worth, Dennis Rodman claims that Jang Song-thaek is still alive. According to an interview with Dujour:

DJ: And the accusations about him having his family members killed…

DR: You could say anything here about North Korea and people would believe it. The last time I went there, when they said they killed his girlfriend, they killed his uncle, they just fed him to the dogs… They were standing right behind me.

DJ: You’re saying that the uncle that the North Korean government itself confirms was executed is actually alive?

DR: He was standing right there.

UPDATE 26 (2014-4-7): More rumors from the Chosun Ibo on the purge of Jang song-thaek:

The North Korean regime has shut down the Workers Party department once headed by purged eminence grise Jang Song-taek and executed or interned 11 high-ranking officials, sources said Sunday.

One of them was burned alive.

A source said the regime is preparing a third purge of officials who supported Jang. The first purge involved his family, relatives and high-ranking party officials, while the second purge underway. The third will target his supporters in provincial chapters of the Workers Party.

The source said Jang’s elder sister Kye-sun and her husband and ambassador to Cuba Jon Yong-jin, as well as their son-in-law Kim Yong-ho, who was head of a trading company, were executed. But ambassador to Malaysia Jang Yong-chol, Jang’s nephew, escaped with his life.

He was sent to a concentration camp shortly after Jang Song-taek’s execution but was ordered to return to Pyongyang without a job after South Korean media reported rumors of his execution, the source added.

Jang’s closest confidants Ri Yong-ha and Jang Su-gil as well as nine other high-ranking party officials were purged, while around 100 lower-ranking party officials loyal to Jang were sacked.

O Sang-hon, a deputy minister at the Ministry of Public Security, was “executed by flamethrower,” the source said.

The reason for the horrific method that he had turned the ministry into Jang’s personal protection squad, the source added. O managed a bureau in the ministry as his personal security service and raised its status to the same rank as officials guarding leader Kim Jong-un.

UPDATE 25 (2014-2-13): The DPRK has a new ambassador to Laos.

UPDATE 24 (2014-2-8): KCNA reports that the DPRK has replaced its ambassador to Nepal:

DPRK Ambassador to Nepal Appointed
Pyongyang, February 8 (KCNA) — Kim Yong Hak was appointed as DPRK ambassador to Nepal, according to a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK.

UPDATE 25 (2014-2-5): RFA reports that dozens of entertainers and performers linked to Jang Song-thaek have been imprisoned:

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the jailing of 40 popular actors and actresses as part of his relentless crackdown on those closely linked to his executed uncle, sources say.

Jang Song Thaek’s execution two months ago followed a massive purge in the government and military, and Kim seems to be moving now to flush out Jang’s allies in the entertainment industry, according to the sources.

“About 40 entertainers, referred to as a group linked to Jang Song Thaek, have been sent to Soosung prison in Chongjin in North Hamgyong province,” a source told RFA’s Korean Service, referring to a detention facility that is usually reserved for “first class” political prisoners.

“I heard this from a North Korean official of North Hamgyong province who is in charge of earning foreign currency,” the source said, as if to reinforce the credibility of his information.

The source said he was informed that entertainers belonging to such popular groups as the Chosun Art Film Studio, Pyongyang Circus Troupe, and Mansudae Art Theater were taken to the prison facility on Jan. 17 in two trucks.

Among those thrown in prison were Ryu Jin Ah, a singer with the Moranbong Band who was known to be Jang’s “lover,” and Li Yik Seung, an actor with Chosun Art Film Studio believed to be involved in “procuring” actresses for Jang and officials close to him, another source said.

The Moranbong Band made a public appearance in July 2012 on Kim’s orders and Ryu was bestowed a top entertainer title a year later, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Li, who won the Kim Jong Il Award in February 2012, played the role of a mine owner in “Comrade Kim Goes Flying,” a 2012 romantic comedy film co-produced by North Korea, Britain, and Belgium.

‘Womanizing problem’

The second source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ryu and Li were linked to the 67-year-old Jang’s “womanizing problem,” cited as among reasons for his execution aside from the more serious charges of attempting to overthrow the government and seize power from his nephew.

“It is well known among residents in North Hamgyong province that a number of entertainers have been confined in the Soosung prison in Chongjin,” the source said.

A former Japanese chef for the Kim family told RFA recently that Kim had ordered Jang’s execution for his role in procuring teenage girls to satisfy the sexual desires of Kim’s father and Jang himself.

Chef Kenji Fujimoto said that by having Jang killed, Kim “wanted to prove that he’s different” from his father Kim Jong Il and his grandfather Kim Il Sung, both of whom he said had “quite a history with women.”

Fujimoto, who was Kim Jong Il’s personal sushi chef from 1988 to 2001, claimed that aside from his official duties as de facto number two to Kim Jong Il, the 67-year-old Jang had been in charge of a “pleasure division” tasked with recruiting girls aged 15-16 years for the late dictator.

In his New Year message broadcast on state TV, Kim Jong Un defended the execution of his uncle—who was married to his father’s sister—saying it was a “resolute action” and labeling Jang “scum.”

Jang was also de facto number two under the junior Kim before his execution and was considered instrumental in his rise to power in December 2011.

Sources inside North Korea had told RFA earlier that Kim was already purging the country’s military officer corps of personnel linked to Jang in a massive shake-up that has led to a freeze on military exercises and delayed replacement of cadres in the ruling party but raised promotion prospects for younger officers.

UPDATE 23 (2014-2-3): The DPRK’s ambassador to the United Kingdom gave an interview in which he discussed the purge of Jang Song-thaek. According to the Hankyoreh:

Hyun Hak-bong, North Korean ambassador to the United Kingdom, told the UK’s Sky News that Jang Song-thaek, former head of the administrative division of the Korean Workers’ Party, was executed for misappropriation of public funds.

When the subject of Jang came up in an interview on Jan. 30, Hyun said that Jang was sentenced to death in the court according to the law and that he was shot to death. This is the first time that a North Korean official has explained on the record why and how Jang was executed. Asked about the crimes Jang was charged with, Hyun said that he had committed the acts in question, anti-state acts, and that he had abused his authority and driven the North Korean economy into the ground. Hyun said that among Jang’s crimes was the misuse of 4.6 million euros in 2009.

In 2009, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s father Kim Jong-il was still alive. This implies that after Kim Jong-un took power, he suddenly took issue with something that had happened four years earlier.

In regard to this, Hyun said that the party had forgiven Jang’s behavior on several occasions in the past, but that this time his actions went “beyond the red line,” stressing that execution had been the only option.

Addressing reports that Jang’s family and relatives had been killed as well, Hyun called these fabricated reports and dismissed them as “political propaganda by our enemies.” However, when the interviewer asked Hyun if Jang’s family was still alive, the ambassador avoided a definitive response. “I know he was punished but if his family were punished or not, I don’t know,” Hyun said.

UPDATE 22 (2014-1-28): Rimjingang offers some speculation on the continued purges of Jang’s associates.

UPDATE 21 (2014-1-22): Alexandre Mansourov  provides a detailed chronology of Jang’s fall from grace in 38 North.

UPDATE 20 (2014-1-20): Choson Ilbo reports that O Kuk-ryol has been taking over Jang’s portfolio:

A senior North Korean source on Sunday said O is gaining control of the financial operations of the National Defense Commission that was once managed by Jang as well as other business interests.

O has crucially gained control of agencies in charge of bringing in foreign currency such as a body created by Jang to develop an economic zone in Sinuiju near the border with China.

He has thus regained rights to the development of Rajin-Sonbong port, exports of seafood and gold mining that Jang stripped him of in 2010.

Radio Free Asia in the U.S. reported that companies managed by O have had exclusive control of LPG import licenses from China and Russia since Jang’s execution.

UPDATE 19 (2014-1-6): Pyongyang has replaced its coal industry and metal industry ministers. According to the Korea Herald

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency on Sunday introduced Mun Myong-hak as coal industry minister, a position held by Rim Nam-su at least until a year ago, while reporting on the 30th anniversary of a coal mining complex in the western province of South Pyongan.

The charges culminating in Jang’s death unveiled by the KCNA included underpricing overseas “precious underground resources including coal” and land within an up-and-coming special economic zone.

The mineral-rich North has long been seeking to shore up its crumbling economy through exports of coal, iron ore, hard coal and other resources, mostly to China.

Seoul’s spy chief Nam Jae-joon late last month ascribed Jang’s shock purge to discords among the elite over lucrative coal export business.

It remains unclear, however, whether Jang and Rim had had a close relationship.

Former manager of a youth coal mine in South Pyongan, Mun was twice named a member of the Supreme People’s Assembly, in 2003 and 2009, before being introduced last January as head of a youth coal mining complex in Sunchon in the region.

His appointment was the latest in an ongoing personnel shakeup in Pyongyang.

On Thursday, Korean Central Television introduced Kim Yong-kwang as metal industry minister as it aired the reactions of ministry officials to Kim Jong-un’s New Year address. His predecessor Han Hyo-yon last appeared in state media last June.

Kim was vice metal industry minister from June 2008 and manager of a mining complex in Musan, North Hamgyong Province, from December 2011, and was nominated to the steering committee of the funeral of late leader Kim Jong-il around then.

“Our metal industry will actively contribute to strengthening national power by bringing up the working classes’ combative enthusiasm and reproducing steel,” he told the broadcaster on Thursday.

The Choson Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan, said last month that Kim Jong-ha has become secretary of the Cabinet secretariat, succeeding Kim Yong-ho.

UPDATE 18 (2013-12-30): North Korea has recalled its deputy ambassador to UNESCO. According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s deputy ambassador to UNESCO was called back to Pyongyang from Paris on Monday, a diplomatic source said, marking the latest summoning of North Korean diplomats following the recent execution of leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle.

Hong Yong, the North’s deputy permanent delegate to UNESCO, and his wife were spotted at the Beijing airport before boarding an Air Koryo flight earlier in the day, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

Last week, the North’s ambassador to Sweden, Pak Kwang-chol, returned to North Korea. Pak was one of the close aides to the purged uncle, Jang Song-thaek.

“North Korea appears to be intensively carrying out recalls of high-ranking diplomats,” the source said.

“A number of North Korean diplomats, trade officials and businessmen, who served as close subordinates of Jang Song-thaek, have been returned home,” the source said.

North Korea’s ambassador to China, Ji Jae-ryong, has been conducting business as usual, but North Korean diplomats in Beijing “have been recently trying to refrain from outdoor activities,” the source said.

Ji, 71, has shared the same political fate as Jang over the past three decades and served as a “linking pin” between Jang and the Chinese leadership since he took up the post in 2010.

Earlier this month, the North’s ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-chol, a nephew of the executed uncle, had also been summoned back to the country.

Mr. Hong had apparently held the post for just six months.

UPDATE 17 (2013-12-27): Yonhap reports that the DPRK’s ambassador to Sweden has been recalled. According to the article:

North Korean ambassador to Sweden, Pak Kwang-chol, was called back to Pyongyang on Friday, a diplomatic source said, marking the latest recall of North Korean diplomats following the recent execution of leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle.

Pak, one of close aides to the purged uncle, Jang Song-thaek, returned to North Korea via an Air Koryo flight after making a brief stopover in Beijing earlier in the day, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

Escorted by North Korean officials, Pak and his wife were spotted at Beijing airport before boarding the Air Koryo flight, the source said.

Park took up the post in September last year, according to a report by the North’s state media.

UPDATE 16 (2013-12-23): South Korea’s spy chief states that Jang’s demise stemmed from business dealings. According to AFP:

The shock purge and execution of the North Korean leader’s uncle stemmed from his attempts to take control of the country’s lucrative coal export business, South Korea’s spy chief told lawmakers Monday.

The execution — the biggest political upheaval since Kim took power two years ago — sparked speculation that Jang had lost out in a power struggle with hardline army generals.

But Nam Jae-Joon, the head of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, said Jang’s attempts to secure control of state-run natural resources businesses played a big part in his downfall.

Nam, briefing members of parliament’s intelligence committee on the situation in the North, also said the young ruler currently “appears to have no problem” in his grip on power — but may stage armed provocations against the South sometime between January and March to rally domestic unity.

“Jang intervened too much in lucrative state businesses… related to coal, which drew mounting complaints from other [related] state bodies,” lawmaker Jung Chung-Rae, a member of the committee, quoted Nam as saying at the closed hearing.

Jang for years handled the country’s mineral exports, which go mostly to China.

The impoverished but mineral-rich North has sought for years to bolster its crumbling economy by increasing exports of coal and other minerals, which account for the bulk of its exports to China.

But Jang and his associates angered other top party officials by rapidly expanding their control over the coveted mineral businesses, Jung quoted Nam as saying.

“Kim Jong-Un was briefed about it… and issued orders to correct the situation,” Jung told reporters.

But many officials loyal to Jang did not immediately accept his orders, which eventually led an angry Kim to launch a sweeping purge, the lawmaker quoted the spy chief as saying.

The regime is currently probing officials in the ruling party’s administrative department once supervised by Jang as well as other state-run trading arms, Nam was quoted as saying.

According to the New York Times, also covered the announcement, though this telling of the story focuses more on a dispute that erupted from fishing rights:

The execution of the uncle of Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, had its roots in a firefight between forces loyal to Mr. Kim and those supporting the man who was supposed to be his regent, according to accounts that are being pieced together by South Korean and American officials. The clash was over who would profit from North Korea’s most lucrative exports: coal, clams and crabs.

North Korean military forces were deployed to retake control of one of the sources of those exports, the rich crab and clam fishing grounds that Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of the country’s untested, 30-year-old leader, had seized from the military. In the battle for control of the fishing grounds, the emaciated, poorly trained North Korean forces “were beaten — very badly — by Uncle Jang’s loyalists,” according to one official.

The rout of his forces appears to have been the final straw for Mr. Kim, who saw his 67-year-old uncle as a threat to his authority over the military and, just as important, to his own family’s dwindling sources of revenue. Eventually, at Mr. Kim’s order, the North Korean military came back with a larger force and prevailed. Soon, Mr. Jang’s two top lieutenants were executed.

The two men died in front of a firing squad. But instead of rifles, the squad used antiaircraft machine guns, a form of execution that according to South Korean intelligence officials and news media was similar to the one used against some North Korean artists in August. Days later, Mr. Jang himself was publicly denounced, tried and executed, by more traditional means.

Given the opaqueness of North Korea’s inner circle, many details of the struggle between Mr. Kim and his uncle remain murky. But what is known suggests that while Mr. Kim has consolidated control and eliminated a potential rival, it has been at a huge cost: The open warfare between the two factions has revealed a huge fracture inside the country’s elite over who pockets the foreign currency — mostly Chinese renminbi — the country earns from the few nonnuclear exports its trading partners desire.

..

But when Mr. Kim succeeded his father two years ago, he took away some of the military’s fishing and trading rights and handed them to his cabinet, which he designated as the main agency to revive the economy. Mr. Jang was believed to have been a leading proponent of curtailing the military’s economic power.

r. Jang appears to have consolidated many of those trading rights under his own control — meaning that profits from the coal, crabs and clams went into his accounts, or those of state institutions under his control, including the administrative department of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, which he headed.

But this fall, the long-brewing tensions that arrangement created broke into the open. Radio Free Asia, in a report last week that cited anonymous North Korean sources, reported that Mr. Kim saw North Korean soldiers malnourished during his recent visits to islands near the disputed western sea border. They say he ordered Mr. Jang to hand over the operation of nearby fishing grounds back to the military.

According to accounts put together by South Korean and American officials, Mr. Jang and his associates resisted. When a company of about 150 North Korean soldiers showed up at the farm, Mr. Jang’s loyalists refused to hand over the operation, insisting that Mr. Jang himself would have to approve. The confrontation escalated into a gun battle, and Radio Free Asia reports that two soldiers were killed and that the army backed off. Officials say the number of casualties is unknown, but they have received similar accounts.

It is hard to know exactly how large a role the episode played in Mr. Jang’s downfall — there is more money in coal than in seafood — but Mr. Kim was reportedly enraged when he heard of the clash. Mr. Nam said that by mid-November his agents were already reporting that Mr. Jang had been detained. The Dec. 12 verdict noted that Mr. Jang “instructed his stooges to sell coal and other precious underground resources at random.”

Mr. Nam said the fact that such behind-the-scenes tensions had spun so far out of control that Mr. Kim had to order his own uncle’s execution raised questions about the government’s internal unity.

“The fissure within the regime could accelerate if it further loses popular support,” the lawmakers quoted Mr. Nam as saying.

New Focus International has published three articles on the Jang affair. These articles take a different approach than the articles above. These look at Pyongyang’s the de facto political culture and competition between JST and the party’s Organization and Guidance Department. You can read them here:

1. The transformation of N.Korean politics through the execution of Jang Song-thaek

2. Purge and execution of Jang Song-thaek: The transformation of N.Korean political procedure

3. Kim Jong-un is not in charge. Then who is?

4. We have just witnessed a coup in North Korea

5. This is it: North Korea’s hidden power system

Here is coverage at the Wall Street Journal’s Korea Real Time.

UPDATE 15 (2013-12-20): The Daily NK reports that Jang’s family members have been rounded up and punished.

UPDATE 14 (2013-12-6): Jang’s purge has had impact on operations at Rason Economic and Trade Zone and Hwanggumphyong SEZ.

UPDATE 13 (2013-12-17): NK News reports that  articles about Jang song-thaek have been deleted from the KCNA.kp web page (thought not the KCNA.co.jp site). According to the article:

In total, 10-15 articles on Jang were deleted, with approximately 500 other articles mentioning Jang’s name edited to remove Jang’s name specifically.

“The scale of what they’re attempting to do here is unprecedented. North Korea ‘s websites are somewhat of an unknown quantity, and nothing on this scale has been detected before,” said Frank Feinstein, a New Zealand based computing specialist that tracks North Korean media output for NK News’s KCNA Watch.

“They’re attempting to write not just Jang, but several other elites, right out of the history books,” Feinstein added.

UPDATE 12 (2013-12-16): James Person at the Wilson Center’s NKIDB writes about the DPRK’s last major purge in the 1960s.

UPDATE 11 (2013-12-15):  Michael Madden has written a thorough obituary for Jang Song-thaek.

UPDATE 10 (2013-12-15): KCNA lists Kim Kyong-hui on the funeral committee for Kim Kuk-thae, indicating she has survived the purge of her husband.

UPDATE 9 (2013-12-13): 38 North has published three prespectives on Jang’s execution: Haksoon Paik, James Church, Alexandre Mansourov

UPDATE 8 (2013-12-12): NK News has thoughts on Jang’s execution from David Straub, Victor Cha, Andrei Lankov, and Sunny Lee.

UPDATE 7 (2013-12-12): Rodong Sinmun has coverage (in Korean). Here are two images that were published of the tribunal that sentenced Mr. Jang:

jang-tribunal

 

jang-tribunal-2

Top: The three-member military tribunal of the Ministry of State Security. Bottom: Jang can be seen in handcuffs as he is escorted by two guards from the Ministry of State Security.

UPDATE 6 (2013-12-12): KCNA announces execution of Jang song-thaek:

Traitor Jang Song Thaek Executed

Pyongyang, December 13 (KCNA) — Upon hearing the report on the enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the service personnel and people throughout the country broke into angry shouts that a stern judgment of the revolution should be meted out to the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional elements. Against the backdrop of these shouts rocking the country, a special military tribunal of the DPRK Ministry of State Security was held on December 12 against traitor for all ages Jang Song Thaek.

The accused Jang brought together undesirable forces and formed a faction as the boss of a modern day factional group for a long time and thus committed such hideous crime as attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state.

The tribunal examined Jang’s crimes.

All the crimes committed by the accused were proved in the course of hearing and were admitted by him.

A decision of the special military tribunal of the Ministry of State Security of the DPRK was read out at the trial.

Every sentence of the decision served as sledge-hammer blow brought down by our angry service personnel and people on the head of Jang, an anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional element and despicable political careerist and trickster.

The accused is a traitor to the nation for all ages who perpetrated anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts in a bid to overthrow the leadership of our party and state and the socialist system.

Jang was appointed to responsible posts of the party and state thanks to the deep political trust of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il and received benevolence from them more than any others from long ago.

He held higher posts than before and received deeper trust from supreme leader Kim Jong Un, in particular.

The political trust and benevolence shown by the peerlessly great men of Mt. Paektu were something he hardly deserved.

It is an elementary obligation of a human being to repay trust with sense of obligation and benevolence with loyalty.

However, despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him.

From long ago, Jang had a dirty political ambition. He dared not raise his head when Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were alive. But, reading their faces, Jang had an axe to grind and involved himself in double-dealing. He began revealing his true colors, thinking that it was just the time for him to realize his wild ambition in the period of historic turn when the generation of the revolution was replaced.

Jang committed such an unpardonable thrice-cursed treason as overtly and covertly standing in the way of settling the issue of succession to the leadership with an axe to grind when a very important issue was under discussion to hold respected Kim Jong Un in high esteem as the only successor to Kim Jong Il in reflection of the unanimous desire and will of the entire party and army and all people.

When his cunning move proved futile and the decision that Kim Jong Un was elected vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea at the Third Conference of the WPK in reflection of the unanimous will of all party members, service personnel and people was proclaimed, making all participants break into enthusiastic cheers that shook the conference hall, he behaved so arrogantly and insolently as unwillingly standing up from his seat and half-heartedly clapping, touching off towering resentment of our service personnel and people.

Jang confessed that he behaved so at that time as a knee-jerk reaction as he thought that if Kim Jong Un’s base and system for leading the army were consolidated, this would lay a stumbling block in the way of grabbing the power of the party and state.

When Kim Jong Il passed away so suddenly and untimely to our sorrow, he began working in real earnest to realize its long-cherished greed for power.

Abusing the honor of often accompanying Kim Jong Unduring his field guidance, Jang tried hard to create illusion about him by projecting himself internally and externally as a special being on a par with the headquarters of the revolution.

In a bid to rally a group of reactionaries to be used by him for toppling the leadership of the party and state, he let the undesirable and alien elements including those who had been dismissed and relieved of their posts after being severely punished for disobeying the instructions of Kim Jong Il and kowtowing to him work in a department of the Central Committee of the WPK and organs under it in a crafty manner.

Jang did serious harm to the youth movement in our country, being part of the group of renegades and traitors in the field of youth work bribed by enemies. Even after they were disclosed and purged by the resolute measure of the party, he patronized those cat’s paws and let them hold important posts of the party and state.

He had let Ri Ryong Ha, flatterer, work with him since the 1980s whenever he was transferred to other posts and systematically promoted Ri up to the post of first vice department director of the Party Central Committee though he had been purged for his factional act of denying the unitary leadership of the party. Jang thus made Ri his trusted stooge.

Jang let his confidants and flatterers who had been fired for causing an important case of denying the unitary leadership of the party work in his department and organs under it in a crafty manner in a few years. He systematically rallied ex-convicts, those problematic in their past careers and discontented elements around him and ruled over them as sacred and inviolable being.

He worked hard to put all affairs of the country under his control, massively increasing the staff of his department and organs under it, and stretch his tentacles to ministries and national institutions. He converted his department into a “little kingdom” which no one dares touch.

He was so imprudent as to prevent the Taedonggang Tile Factory from erecting a mosaic depicting Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Iland a monument to field guidance given by them. Moreover, Jang turned down the unanimous request of the service personnel of a unit of the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces to have the autograph letter sent by Kim Jong Un to the unit carved on a natural granite and erected with good care in front of the building of its command. He was so reckless as to instruct the unit to erect it in a shaded corner.

He committed such anti-party acts as systematically denying the party line and policies, its organizational will, in the past period. These acts were a revelation of deliberate and sinister attempt to create extreme illusion and idolization of him by making him appear as a special being who can overrule either issues decided by the party or its line.

He went so rude as to take in the middle even those things associated with intense loyalty and sincerity of our army and people towards the party and the leader and distribute them among his confidants in an effort to take credit upon himself for doing so. This behavior was to create illusion about him.

Due to his persistent moves to create illusion and idolization of him his flatterers and followers in his department and organs under it praised him as “No. 1 comrade.” They went the lengths of denying even the party’s instructions to please him at any cost.

Jang established such a heterogenous work system in the department and the relevant organs as considering what he said as more important than the party’s policies. Consequently, his trusted henchmen and followers made no scruple of perpetrating such counterrevolutionary act as disobeying the order of the Supreme Commander of the KPA.

The revolutionary army will never pardon all those who disobey the order of the Supreme Commander and there will be no place for them to be buried even after their death.

Dreaming a fantastic dream to become premier at an initial stage to grab the supreme power of the party and state, Jang made his department put major economic fields of the country under its control in a bid to disable the Cabinet. In this way he schemed to drive the economy of the country and people’s living into an uncontrollable catastrophe.

He put inspection and supervision organs belonging to the Cabinet under his control in defiance of the new state machinery established by Kim Jong Il at the First Session of the Tenth Supreme People’s Assembly. He put all issues related to all structural works handled by the Cabinet under his control and had the final say on them, making it impossible for the Cabinet to properly perform its function and role as an economic command. They included the issues of setting up and disorganizing committees, ministries and national institutions and provincial, city and county-level organs, organizing units for foreign trade and earning foreign money and structures overseas and fixing living allowances.

When he attempted to make a false report to the party without having agreement with the Cabinet and the relevant ministry on the issue related to the state construction control organization, officials concerned expressed just opinion that his behavior was contrary to the construction law worked out by Kim Il Sung andKim Jong Il. Hearing this, he made the reckless remark that “the rewriting of the construction law would solve the problem.”

Abusing his authority, he undermined the work system related to the construction of the capital city established by Kim Il Sungand Kim Jong Il, reducing the construction building-materials bases to such bad shape little short of debris in a few years. He weakened the ranks of technicians and skilled workers at the unit for the construction of the capital city in a crafty manner and transferred major construction units to his confidants so that they might make money. In this way he deliberately disturbed the construction in Pyongyang.

He instructed his stooges to sell coal and other precious underground resources at random. Consequently, his confidants were saddled with huge debts, deceived by brokers. Jang made no scruple of committing such act of treachery in May last as selling off the land of the Rason economic and trade zone to a foreign country for a period of five decades under the pretext of paying those debts.

It was none other than Jang who wirepulled behind scene Pak Nam Gi, traitor for all ages, to recklessly issue hundreds of billions of won in 2009, sparking off serious economic chaos and disturbing the people’s mind-set.

Jang encouraged money-making under various pretexts to secure funds necessary for gratifying his political greed and was engrossed in irregularities and corruption. He thus took the lead in spreading indolent, careless and undisciplined virus in our society.

After collecting precious metals since the construction of Kwangbok Street in the 1980s, he set up a secret organ under his control and took a fabulous amount of funds from a bank and purchased precious metals in disregard of the state law. He thus committed such anti-state criminal acts as creating a great confusion in financial management system of the state.

He let the decadent capitalist lifestyle find its way to our society by distributing all sorts of pornographic pictures among his confidants since 2009. He led a dissolute, depraved life, squandering money wherever he went.

He took at least 4.6 million Euro from his secret coffers and squandered it in 2009 alone and enjoyed himself in casino in a foreign country. These facts alone clearly show how corrupt and degenerate he was.

Jang was so reckless with his greed for power that he persistently worked to stretch his tentacles even to the People’s Army with a foolish calculation that he would succeed in staging a coup if he mobilized the army.

He fully revealed his despicable true colors as a traitor for all ages in the course of questioning by uttering as follows: “I attempted to trigger off discontent among service personnel and people when the present regime does not take any measure despite the fact that the economy of the country and people’s living are driven into catastrophe. Comrade supreme leader is the target of the coup.”

As regards the means and methods for staging the coup, Jang said: “I was going to stage the coup by using army officers who had close ties with me or by mobilizing armed forces under the control of my confidants. I don’t know well about recently appointed army officers but have some acquaintances with those appointed in the past period. I thought the army might join in the coup if the living of the people and service personnel further deteriorate in the future. And I calculated that my confidants in my department including Ri Ryong Ha and Jang Su Gil would surely follow me and had a plan to use the one in charge of the people’s security organ as my confidant. It was my calculation that I might use several others besides them.”

Asked about the timing of the coup and his plan to do after staging the coup, Jang answered: “I didn’t fix the definite time for the coup. But it was my intention to concentrate my department and all economic organs on the Cabinet and become premier when the economy goes totally bankrupt and the state is on the verge of collapse in a certain period. I thought that if I solve the problem of people’s living at a certain level by spending an enormous amount of funds I have accumulated under various names after becoming premier, the people and service personnel will shout “hurrah” for me and I will succeed in the coup in a smooth way.”

Jang dreamed such a foolish dream that once he seizes power by a base method, his despicable true colors as “reformist” known to the outside world would help his “new government” get “recognized” by foreign countries in a short span of time.

All facts go to clearly prove that Jang is a thrice-cursed traitor without an equal in the world as he had desperately worked for years to destabilize and bring down the DPRK and grab the supreme power of the party and state by employing all the most cunning and sinister means and methods, pursuant to the “strategic patience” policy and “waiting strategy” of the U.S. and the south Korean puppet group of traitors.

The hateful and despicable nature of the anti-party, anti-state and unpopular crimes committed by Jang was fully disclosed in the course of the trial conducted at the special military tribunal of the DPRK Ministry of State Security.

The era and history will eternally record and never forget the shuddering crimes committed by Jang Song Thaek, the enemy of the party, revolution and people and heinous traitor to the nation.

No matter how much water flows under the bridge and no matter how frequently a generation is replaced by new one, the lineage of Paektu will remain unchanged and irreplaceable.

Our party, state, army and people do not know anyone exceptKim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un.

Our service personnel and people will never pardon all those who dare disobey the unitary leadership of Kim Jong Un, challenge his absolute authority and oppose the lineage of Paektu to an individual but bring them to the stern court of history without fail and mercilessly punish them on behalf of the party and revolution, the country and its people, no matter where they are in hiding.

The special military tribunal of the Ministry of State Security of the DPRK confirmed that the state subversion attempted by the accused Jang with an aim to overthrow the people’s power of the DPRK by ideologically aligning himself with enemies is a crime punishable by Article 60 of the DPRK Criminal Code, vehemently condemned him as a wicked political careerist, trickster and traitor for all ages in the name of the revolution and the people and ruled that he would be sentenced to death according to it.

The decision was immediately executed.

You can never clap too loud or too long…

See more NK News here and here.

UPDATE 5 (2013-12-12): Here is Ruediger Frank in 38 North.

UPDATE 4 (2013-12-11): Rodong Sinmun followed up with this article the next day:

An order of the respected Supreme Commander is what our army should carry out at the risk of its life.

It has been invariable faith and will of our revolutionary army at all times — in the days when it had to smash armed provocations of the U.S. and its satellites and in the days when it has been engaged  in both socialist construction and national defense.

Our revolutionary arms has always been merciless at all its enemies, particularly those who attempted to do harm to the headquarters of our revolution; those who refused to obey the order of the Supreme Commander and those who dreamed different dreams while in the same bed.

Jang Song Thaek and a handful of his followers dared to challenge our Party policies and disobeyed the orders of our Supreme Commander. Their crimes have been exposed now. This angered men and officers of our People’s Army.

Roaring voices now come from all corners of the country, “Our rifle never wavers. Hand those betrayers to us. We will finish them off, leaving no traces of their dirty bodies.”

The anti-Party, counter-revolutionary, factional crimes of Jang Song Thaek and his villains make us more keenly alive to the mission of the revolutionary army.

The first target we are going to crush is those who want to haggle about our Party’s line and directions, make a mess of the Party leadership exploits, keep away from the Party and class principles, and those who try to turn the pure minds of our people to rotten fish.

Our revolutionary army knows no one but its respected Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un.

UPDATE 3 (2013-12-10): Rodong Sinmun offers the following summary of the meeting:

Let Us Unite Firm around Kim Jong Un To

Accomplish Revolutionary Cause of Juche

Now our army and people have united firmer than ever before around the Workers’ Party of Korea.

An enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK was held under the guidance of the respected Marshal Kim Jong Un. It was a historic landmark meeting in strengthening our party and accomplishing the revolutionary cause of Juche in our country.

The meeting laid bare the anti-party, counter-revolutionary, factional acts of Jang Song Thaek and his group who opposed the monolithic system of the party leadership.

Our party removed Jang from the Party and purged the party ranks of his group, thus giving a telling blow to the factionalists.

Our army and people welcomed the resolution of the meeting and reaffirmed their conviction to go along the road of final victory under the leadership of the party, holding high the banner of Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism.

The enlarged meeting is of weighty significance in further consolidating the organizational and ideological unity of the party centered on Kim Jong Un.

It will also go a long way towards cementing the single-minded unity of our party and revolutionary ranks.

The meeting also marked an important turn in our efforts to build a thriving nation.

All the Party members, men of the People’s Army and people should learn to know the significance and importance of the meeting and unite them closer around the great party and continue to march vigorously for final victory of revolution.

They must always remain true to Kim Jong Un’s idea and lines and to his leadership. And in this, officials must take the lead.

Complacence and concession are taboo in ideological work because they may leave a margin for any unsound idea to make an inroad and decay sound minds.

The Party organizations of all levels must work to prepare every member of the party and of the working people as one ready to share weal and woe with the respected Marshal.

Let all of us more firmly unite around Kim Jong Un and continue our onward march with full vigor to realize the idea and cause of the great generalissimos.

UPDATE 2 (2013-12-9): Martyn Williams is the first in the Western Hemisphere to get the TV footage:

Michael Madden has some of the names and relationships from the video outlined here.

UPDATE 1 (2013-12-9): Andrei Lankov offers analysis at NK News. Alexandre Mansourov offers additional information at 38 North.

ORIGINAL POST (2013-12-9): According to KCNA (2013-12-9):

Jang-ST-Arrested

Pictured above (Yonhap, KCTV): Jang being removed from Politburo meeting. Jean Lee notes that Jang was sitting in the audience. He was not up on the stage with other members of the leadership.

Report on Enlarged Meeting of Political Bureau of Central Committee of WPK

Pyongyang, December 9 (KCNA) — A report on the enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) was released on December 8.

The following is the full text of the report:

An enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK was held in Pyongyang, the capital of the revolution, on Dec. 8.

Respected Comrade Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the WPK, guided the meeting.

Present there were members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK.

Leading officials of the Central Committee of the WPK, provincial party committees and armed forces organs attended it as observers.

Our party members, service personnel and all other people have made energetic efforts to implement the behests of leader Kim Jong Il, entrusting their destiny entirely to Kim Jong Un and getting united close around the Central Committee of the WPK since the demise of Kim Jong Il, the greatest loss to the nation.

In this historic period for carrying forward the revolutionary cause of Juche the chance elements and alien elements who had made their ways into the party committed such anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts as expanding their forces through factional moves and daring challenge the party, while attempting to undermine the unitary leadership of the party.

In this connection, the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK convened its enlarged meeting and discussed the issue related to the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts committed by Jang Song Thaek.

The meeting, to begin with, fully laid bare the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts of Jang Song Thaek and their harmfulness and reactionary nature.

It is the immutable truth proved by the nearly 70-year-long history of the WPK that the party can preserve its revolutionary nature as the party of the leader and fulfill its historic mission only when it firmly ensures its unity and cohesion based on the monolithic idea and the unitary center of leadership.

The entire party, whole army and all people are dynamically advancing toward the final victory in the drive for the building of a thriving nation, meeting all challenges of history and resolutely foiling the desperate moves of the enemies of the revolution under the leadership of Kim Jong Un. Such situation urgently calls for consolidating as firm as a rock the single-minded unity of the party and the revolutionary ranks with Kim Jong Un as its unitary centre and more thoroughly establishing the monolithic leadership system of the party throughout the party and society.

The Jang Song Thaek group, however, committed such anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts as gnawing at the unity and cohesion of the party and disturbing the work for establishing the party unitary leadership system and perpetrated such ant-state, unpopular crimes as doing enormous harm to the efforts to build a thriving nation and improve the standard of people’s living.

Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader but was engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scene.

Though he held responsible posts of the party and state thanks to the deep political trust of the party and leader, he committed such perfidious acts as shunning and obstructing in every way the work for holding President Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in high esteem for all ages, behaving against the elementary sense of moral obligation and conscience as a human being.

Jang desperately worked to form a faction within the party by creating illusion about him and winning those weak in faith and flatterers to his side.

Prompted by his politically-motivated ambition, he tried to increase his force and build his base for realizing it by implanting those who had been punished for their serious wrongs in the past period into ranks of officials of departments of the party central committee and units under them.

Jang and his followers did not sincerely accept the line and policies of the party, the organizational will of the WPK, but deliberately neglected their implementation, distorted them and openly played down the policies of the party. In the end, they made no scruple of perpetrating such counter-revolutionary acts as disobeying the order issued by the supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army.

The Jang group weakened the party’s guidance over judicial, prosecution and people’s security bodies, bringing very harmful consequences to the work for protecting the social system, policies and people.

Such acts are nothing but counter-revolutionary, unpopular criminal acts of giving up the class struggle and paralyzing the function of popular democratic dictatorship, yielding to the offensive of the hostile forces to stifle the DPRK.

Jang seriously obstructed the nation’s economic affairs and the improvement of the standard of people’s living in violation of the pivot-to-the-Cabinet principle and the Cabinet responsibility principle laid down by the WPK.

The Jang group put under its control the fields and units which play an important role in the nation’s economic development and the improvement of people’s living in a crafty manner, making it impossible for the economic guidance organs including the Cabinet to perform their roles.

By throwing the state financial management system into confusion and committing such act of treachery as selling off precious resources of the country at cheap prices, the group made it impossible to carry out the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on developing the industries of Juche iron, Juche fertilizer and Juche vinalon.

Affected by the capitalist way of living, Jang committed irregularities and corruption and led a dissolute and depraved life.

By abusing his power, he was engrossed in irregularities and corruption, had improper relations with several women and was wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants.

Ideologically sick and extremely idle and easy-going, he used drugs and squandered foreign currency at casinos while he was receiving medical treatment in a foreign country under the care of the party.

Jang and his followers committed criminal acts baffling imagination and they did tremendous harm to our party and revolution.

The ungrateful criminal acts perpetrated by the group of Jang Song Thaek are lashing our party members, service personnel of the People’s Army and people into great fury as it committed such crimes before they observed two-year mourning for Kim Jong Il, eternal general secretary of the WPK.

Speeches were made at the enlarged meeting.

Speakers bitterly criticized in unison the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts committed by the Jang group and expressed their firm resolution to remain true to the idea and leadership of Kim Jong Un and devotedly defend the Party Central Committee politically and ideologically and with lives.

The meeting adopted a decision of the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee on relieving Jang of all posts, depriving him of all titles and expelling him and removing his name from the WPK.

The party served warning to Jang several times and dealt blows at him, watching his group’s anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts as it has been aware of them from long ago. But it did not pay heed to it but went beyond tolerance limit. That was why the party eliminated Jang and purged his group, unable to remain an onlooker to its acts any longer, dealing telling blows at sectarian acts manifested within the party.

Our party will never pardon anyone challenging its leadership and infringing upon the interests of the state and people in violation of the principle of the revolution, regardless of his or her position and merits.

No matter how mischievously a tiny handful of anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional elements may work, they can never shake the revolutionary faith of all party members, service personnel and people holding Kim Jong Un in high esteem as the unitary centre of unity and unitary centre of leadership.

The discovery and purge of the Jang group, a modern day faction and undesirable elements who happened to worm their ways into our party ranks, made our party and revolutionary ranks purer and helped consolidate our single-minded unity remarkably and advance more dynamically the revolutionary cause of Juche along the road of victory.

No force on earth can deter our party, army and people from dynamically advancing toward a final victory, single-mindedly united around Kim Jong Un under the uplifted banner of great Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism.

Though the report notes that many of Jang’s associates have been purged, Yonhap notes that the DPRK ambassador to China, one of Jang’s associates, is conducting business as usual.

The North Korean ambassador to China, considered one of the close aides to the purged uncle of the North’s leader Kim Jong-un, appears to be conducting “business as usual for now,” a Seoul diplomatic source said Monday, on the same day that Pyongyang confirmed the powerful uncle had been sacked from office.

The North Korean ambassador, Ji Jae-ryong, has shared the same political fate as the purged uncle, Jang Song-thaek, over the past three decades, and served as a “linking pin” between Jang and the Chinese leadership since he took up the post in 2010, the source said.

“So far, we have detected no unusual movements at the North Korean embassy in Beijing,” the source said on the condition of anonymity.

“It has also been business as usual for Ambassador Ji Jae-ryong and other North Korean diplomats,” the source said.

The same article notes that some of Jang’s relatives in Malaysia were recalled.

Last week, an intelligence source in Beijing said that the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-chol, who is a nephew of Jang, was believed to have been recalled home.

The wife and two 20-something sons of the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia were also spotted last week before boarding an Air Koryo flight in China’s northeastern city of Shenyang, multiple witnesses said.

And in Cuba (Japan Times)…

North Korea’s ambassador to Cuba, Jon Yong Jin — the husband of Jang’s elder sister — has also been recalled, he said, according to a joint briefing by ruling and opposition party lawmakers.

Here is the report by Voice of [North] Korea:

See Madden’s post here. NK News has info here.

Here is coverage in major media outlets: New York Times, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal (and here), Associated Press.

Although it is still rumor at this point, some have speculated that Jang has been executed. The Ministry of Unification asserts he is “safe”. The JoongAng Daily reports he is in his Changgwang residence.

It is also rumored that one of Jang’s associates is under the protection of the South Korean government at a secret location in China  (see here and here). Two other associates, Ri Ryong-ha and Jang Su-gil, have allegedly been executed. Seoul denies they have anybody under their protection.

Mr. Jang’s removal was announced several days ago by the South Korean intelligence service.  According to the New York Times:

Mr. Jang’s apparent fall from power came after his two deputies at the administrative department of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea were executed last month on charges of “corruption and anti-party activities,” according to South Korean lawmakers who were briefed by intelligence officials in a hurriedly scheduled meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul.

The intelligence agency did not reveal how it learned of the executions, the lawmakers said.

“I don’t think Jang’s deputies were executed for mere corruption. Rather, they were executed because they established a ‘power,’ ” said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at Sejong Institute in South Korea.

Mr. Jang would not be the first No. 2 or the first uncle of the North Korean leader to lose power. Kim Jong-il plotted a purge of his own powerful uncle to solidify control after the death of his father, the North’s founding president, Kim Il-sung.

In July last year, Kim Jong-un removed his then No. 2 man, Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho.

Analysts said they suspected that Mr. Jang’s downfall may have been engineered by Kim Won-hong, who was made head of the nation’s secret police and spy agency in April last year, and Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, who became the top political officer in the military under Mr. Kim. On Tuesday, the South Korean intelligence officials said North Korea’s secret police began investigating the corruption of Mr. Jang’s close allies this year.

Reuters offers great background info on Mr. Jang:

The man considered the power behind the throne in secretive North Koreais believed to be out of a job, thanks to his nephew and leader Kim Jong Un, and it wasn’t immediately clear if this time he can find the way back.

Jang Song Thaek survived purges and official displeasure to reach the pinnacle of his career, thanks largely to his sometimes tempestuous marriage to Kim Kyong Hui, the 67-year-old daughter of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung.

The Pyongyang power couple formed a kind of regency in the obscurantist political world of the North behind Kim Jong Un, its young and mercurial leader, who succeeded his father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011.

“The most important thing for Jang Song Thaek is he has institutional memory – he knows where all the bodies are buried and that’s critical in North Korea,” said Mike Madden, a North Korea expert and author of NK Leadership Watch blog.

“He knows who has a drinking problem, and whose wife likes to talk to her relatives a little too much.”

The couple’s reach was augmented by their control over the ruling Korean Workers’ Party’s secret funds that handle the Kim family’s finances both at home and abroad, according to An Chan Il, a former North Korean military officer who defected to the South and has become an expert on the North’s power elite.

After his dismissal in 2004, Jang, 67, was rehabilitated to stand at the peak of power as Vice Chairman of the National Defence Commission, the country’s top military body, and was a member of the ruling Workers’ Party Politburo.

He has likely been sacked from both posts, according to South Korean lawmaker Jung Cheong-rae, who on Tuesday cited a senior South Korean official with the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

“Jang is both the greatest benefactor and the greatest threat (to Kim Jong Un)”, said Park Hyeong-jung at the state-run Korea Institute of National Unification in Seoul back in April.

Jang met Kim Kyong Hui when they were students at Kim Il Sung University. He had good looks and charm, was popular and outgoing, known more for partying and deftness with the accordion than his academic achievements, according to Hwang Jang-yop, a former Workers’ Party secretary and defector who was head of the school at the time.

PARTIES AND WOMEN

His humble background made Jang a less than ideal suitor for the headstrong daughter of North Korea’s founder. Yet Kim Kyong Hui did not let her father’s objections stop her from marrying – with the help of her brother, according to Jang Jin Song, a North Korean defector who previously worked at the Workers’ Party United Front Department, a propaganda unit tasked with destabilising South Korea.

The marriage was not a happy one, he said. As Jang Song Thaek started rising through the ranks of the Workers’ Party, he became less attentive to his family. It was an open secret that he partied hard and womanised, said defectors in Seoul and South Korean politicians who met Jang on a 2002 visit as part of an economic delegation touring the South’s industrial successes.

Their daughter, Kum-song, died in an apparent suicide while attending school in France, ironically because her parents objected to her boyfriend, according to Jang Jin Song.

Kim Kyong Hui herself had an affair with a young pianist who taught her daughter, according to Jang Jin Song, who recalled that a classmate of his at the Pyongyang University of Music and Dance had been a rival for Kim’s affections. The piano teacher, a former child prodigy and household name, and who was 10 years younger than his paramour, would soon disappear.

Kim Kyong Hui would be told he had committed suicide. But Jang the defector said Kim knew her husband had had her lover killed, one of a vast number of people to fall victim to a reign of terror Jang Song Thaek orchestrated in the late 1990s.

Before he became the power behind the throne under Kim Jong Un, Jang was ejected from the elite in 2004 for angering Kim Jong Il by hosting lavish parties, according to media reports and assessments by South Korean think-tanks.

Two years later, he was back, and in 2011 was widely credited with orchestrating the ouster of Army chief of staff Ri Yong Ho, a major rival who had been a loyal aide to the father of Pyongyang’s current leader.

Jang’s removal, if final, could mean Kim Jong Un has lost perhaps the strongest benefactor he could have to help his transformation into a ruler of the calibre of his predecessors, a factor that leaves the question of his future return open.

“Jang’s a big potato to get rid of,” said Madden of NK Leadership Watch. “They can’t get rid of him completely. If they do, they’re in trouble because this is the guy you do not want going to a foreign country.

“… Jang is basically a Kim Jong Il figure. Kim Jong Un does not have the intellectual capacity to do what his father did. His father was really in touch with a lot of things that Kim Jong Un is not.”

See also this article by Aiden Foster-Carter in the Wall Street Journal’s Korea Real Time.

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Worker’s Party and Women’s Union address membership dues

Friday, November 1st, 2013

According to the Daily NK:

The North Korean authorities increased both Party and Chosun Union of Democratic Women’s fees in the run up to this year’s [Chosun Workers’ Party] Foundation Day on October 10th, and demanded that members pay in full and on time going forward. Members of both organizations are supposed to pay a small percentage of their wages in organizational dues on a monthly basis, but systems for payment broke down in the face of the social and political upheaval of the 90s and early 2000s.

“We recently replaced Party membership cards with ones containing images of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il together. That was done in accordance with the revised ‘Ten Principles [for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System],’” the source from Hyesan in Yangkang Province reported to Daily NK on the 31st. “For workers earning 3000 won a month, the base membership fee of 60 won was doubled to 120 won. At the same time as Party cards were replaced, members were told to normalize payment of their dues as well.”

“When they were given the order, a lot of people pointed out that they hadn’t been paying their fees on time because they hadn’t been getting paid on time, either.” The increase means that fees now constitute a total of 4% of a Party member’s basic official salary, although with additions many members are paid closer to 6000 won per month. The Women’s Union monthly fee has risen from 20 won to 50 won, the source reported.

The source also revealed reactions to the news. “Some have welcomed it because they think it may mean a corresponding rise in wages,” he said. “We’ll have to wait and see whether that happens; in any case, these things are an attempt to concentrate power over the people in the hands of the Party.”

The source also noted that a great many people have lost their loyalty to the Party anyway. “People’s loyalties have changed, and changing Party memberships won’t do anything to bring it back,” he concluded. “‘Shouldn’t they work to change the people’s hearts, first?’ That is the question. People are Party members in name only.”

Other sources also report that there have been extensive meetings and Party membership conferment ceremonies of late, as well as lectures on the sanctioned method of storing one’s membership card. “The authorities constantly drill into us that Party membership cards must be protected like one’s own life,” the source said. “There’ll probably continue to be strong controls on that, too.”

Read the full story here:
Dues Rise as Timely Payments Decreed
Daily NK
Kang Mi Jin
2013-11-1

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