Archive for the ‘National Party Congress’ Category

North Korea’s 7th Party Congress and the economy

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

The 7th Party Congress is over, and it turned out to be an affair focused on personal appointments and formalities rather than concrete policy. This post is an attempt to gather some of the news about the congress, some international but mostly domestic coverage and Kim Jong-un’s speeches, particularly that pertaining to economic matters.

Day 1  (5/6/2016) and before 

The congress opened on Friday May 6th. This is how Rodong Sinmun covered the opening:

The Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) opened here with splendor Friday.

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the WPK, was present there.

The congress was attended by delegates with the right to vote and speak elected at the provincial party conferences and officials of party, armed forces and power organs, economic organs, working people’s organizations and those in the fields of science, education, public health, literature and arts and media nominated at the provincial party conferences as observers.

Also present there were congratulatory groups of Koreans in Japan and the General Association of Koreans in China for celebrating the Seventh Congress of the WPK.

Kim Jong Un made an opening address.

He in his address, reflecting the infinite loyalty and ardent reverence of the delegates, Party members, service personnel of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and all other people across the country, extended the noblest tribute and greatest glory to the great Comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.


The congress sent congratulatory messages to the service personnel of the Korean People’s Army and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces who performed distinguished feats in defending the party congress and to the working people and officials of the institutions, industrial establishments and cooperative farms who performed brilliant labor feats in the 70-day campaign of loyalty.

The congress approved the following agenda items:

1.Review of the work of the C.C., the WPK.

2.Review of the work of the Central Audit Commission of the WPK.

3.On revising the Rules of the WPK.

4.On electing Kim Jong Un to the top post of the WPK.

5.Election to the central leadership organ of the WPK.

The congress started the discussion on the first agenda item.

Kim Jong Un began the report on the work of the C.C., the WPK.

The presentation of the report will go on at the second day-sitting.

In his opening address to the congress, carried by KCNA, Kim Jong-un highlighted both national prosperity and hardship:

Today we are holding the historic Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea amid the grand struggle in which the whole Party, the entire army and all the people, filled with iron nerves and confidence to achieve the final victory of the Juche revolution as soon as possible, are making an all-out, general onward march courageously, thwarting all manner of threats and desperate challenges by the imperialists.


The Seventh Congress of the WPK has been convened at a historic time when the phase of leap forward in implementing the cause of the Juche revolution is being opened up.

The last decades since the Sixth Congress of the WPK were characterized by grim struggle and glorious victory on the part of our Party and people.

During the period under review the situation of our revolution was very grave and complex.

In the unprecedentedly hard times when the world socialist system collapsed and the allied imperialist forces concentrated their anti-socialist offensive on our Republic, our Party and people were compelled to fight against them single-handed.

The imperialists strained the situation constantly for decades to keep our people from living at peace even for a moment and blocked all the pathways to economic development and existence through all manner of blockade, pressure and sanctions.

In the face of harsh and manifold difficulties and ordeals and the hardships and sufferings worse than those during a war, our Party and people were united more firmly around the Central Committee of the WPK, holding the President and the General in high esteem as the centre of unity and leadership, and made strenuous efforts to defend and advance the socialist cause, following only the revolutionary line of Juche put forward by the great leaders as they braved the storm of history without the slightest hesitation or vacillation.


This year when the Seventh Congress of the WPK is held, our service personnel and people achieved great successes in the first hydrogen bomb test and the launch of earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong 4 which served as landmarks in the nation’s history spanning 5 000 years, thus raising the dignity and might of Juche Korea to the highest level possible; in high spirits, they conducted a dynamic 70-day campaign of loyalty to perform great feats and make unprecedented labour successes in all fields of socialist construction.

All the service personnel and people throughout the country displayed the spirit of carrying out the policies of the WPK to the death in response to its militant call for launching the 70-day campaign, thereby making the greatest successes and leap forward in all sectors of the national economy and achieving the brilliant result of exceeding the targets of the campaign set by the WPK.


Kim also spoke about economic achievements, and said that North Korea’s economic plans had been fulfilled ahead of schedule (my emphasis):

During the campaign, the electric-power, coal-mining and metallurgical industries and rail transport sector strove hard for increased output and transport to bring about a surge in production, and many units in different sectors of the national economy including the machine-building, chemical, building-materials and light industries and agriculture raised a strong wind to ensure modernization and domestic production of our style and bring about an upswing in production, thus making the distinguished achievement of carrying out the first half-year and yearly national economic plans ahead of schedule.

Our heroic working class of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, scientists and technicians waged an unyielding struggle on the principle of giving priority to self-development to develop and manufacture new machines and equipment based on local efforts and technology, thereby presenting them as gifts to the Congress of the motherly Party. Others across the country wonderfully completed lots of major construction projects, which will be highly conducive to developing the economy and improving the people’s living standards, in a short span of time before the Congress to send reports of loyalty to the Central Committee of the WPK.

But reporters from abroad were in Pyongyang a few days before the congress opened and delivered some interesting dispatches. The Washington Post’s Anna Fifield, for example, visited Jangchon Cooperative Farm near Pyongyang on May 4th. Note that no one at the farm seems to have spoken to reporters about Kim Jong-un’s experimental agriculture reforms — if they have been implemented on a large scale, this would seem a good opportunity to express gratitude and pride in them.

The farm, which Kim visited in June, was deemed to be a shining example of progress, given that it is apparently used as a model for other agricultural cooperatives across the country. So reporters were taken down roads bustling with people to the conspicuously deserted complex.


Apparently, a total of 3,000 people live in this cooperative. But apart from a few people working in greenhouses and a handful more repairing roofs or painting lampposts, almost no one was around. Inside a science building, lab equipment sat like museum pieces.


What about these garden plots in front of the houses? They were household gardens, the minders said. Never mind that one house had a garden of only cabbages, another of only cucumbers, the next entirely squash.

Agriculture has been one of the areas where there has been significant change in recent years. Kim Jong Un’s regime has changed the quota system to allow farmers to keep between 30 and 60 percent of their crops, either to eat or to sell for profit in the markets. Economic analysts have been watching these changes­ keenly, part of a broader, if tentative, move toward marketization.

Full article:
A model farm – with few farmers – in North Korea 
Washington Post
Anna Fifield

On the first day, the congress also sent a congratulatory message to “working people and officials” who participated in the 70-day campaign, carried by KCNA:

The 70-day campaign was a great one for consolidating the single-minded unity of the party, army and people of the DPRK as firm as a rock, bringing about a great innovation and leap forward in building a thriving nation, foiling the vicious moves of the hostile forces to put pressure on the DPRK and stifle it and fully demonstrating the dignity and might of the great Paektusan nation, the message said, and went on:

The Central Committee of the WPK together with its Central Military Commission made public joint slogans in order to glorify this year in which its Seventh Congress is to be held as a year of great heyday in building a thriving nation, ardently appealed to all party members to stage the 70-day campaign in the letter to them and clearly indicated the orientation and ways for winning victory in the on-going general advance.

Unprecedented achievements have been made in the above-said campaign thanks to the heroic struggle of the working people and officials who turned out to greet the Seventh Congress of the WPK out of their boundless loyalty and warm patriotism toward the party.

The Seventh Congress of the WPK extended warm congratulations to the working people and officials of the institutions, industrial establishments and co-op farms who creditably fulfilled the tasks before them during the campaign by sharing the thought, will and pace with the party and fully displaying matchless heroism and self-sacrificing spirit.

Day 2 (5/7/2016) 

On the second day of the congress, Kim gave a report on the work of the KWP Central Committee:

The demise of Kim Il Sung was the biggest grief and loss to our party and people and the biggest trial for our revolution.

After the greatest loss to the nation, the imperialists and their followers have reached the height in their political and military pressure, moves for provoking a war and economic blockade. To cap it all, the country was hit by severe natural disasters, bringing untold hardships and trial to the economic construction and people’s living.

When the world was concerned about the fate of the DPRK and when the imperialist reactionaries were foolishly trumpeting about “change in line” and “collapse of social system”, leader Kim Jong Il solemnly declared his iron will to invariably defend and carry to completion the revolutionary cause of Juche started by the President no matter how arduous the road of the revolution might be, and wisely led the revolution and construction only as intended by the President and the way he did.

By carrying forward the cause of the President under the wise guidance of Kim Jong Il, the WPK has firmly maintained the Songun revolutionary line, the path of winning the steady victory of the Korean revolution, and enforced the Songun politics in an all-round way.


As required by the prevailing situation and the developing revolution, the WPK advanced the strategic line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force and worked hard for its implementation.

The WPK organized and waged an all-people general onward movement for building a thriving people’s paradise as planned and desired by the great leaders and thus ushered in the new era of the prosperity of the country.

The entire party and all the people have achieved the single-minded unity of the whole society in which they are united closely around the leader in thinking and purpose and sense of moral obligation. This is the great success and feat achieved by our party during the period under review.

Our party and people dynamically waged the drive to implement the strategic line of socialist economic construction to lay firm material and technical foundations of self-supporting national economy and provide a springboard from which to build an economic giant.

In delivering this report, Kim mentioned (for the first time during the congress) the new 5-year plan (2016-2020) (emphasis added):

In order to successfully build a socialist power under the banner of modeling the whole society on Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism, it is necessary to strengthen the people’s government and enhance its function and role and, at the same time, thoroughly carry out the general line of our party to dynamically conduct the three revolutions–ideological, technical and cultural.

It is imperative to carry through the five-year strategy for the state economic development from 2016 to 2020.

Kim had a busy second day, and also delivered a review of the KWP’s work (also carried by KCNA):

As required by the prevailing situation and the developing revolution, the WPK advanced the strategic line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force and worked hard for its implementation.


A big stride has been made in the economic and cultural construction.

Raw materials, fuel and power bases of the self-supporting economy have been reinforced and Juche-based production processes introduced into core fields and the structure of industrial sectors further improved.

Is Kim perhaps alluding to changes in agricultural management in the following section? (my emphasis):

 A successful innovation was witnessed in the development of communications service and production processes, technical equipment and operation means have been further modernized in various fields including transport and building-materials industry.

A high-pitched campaign for bringing about a radical turn in seed selection, potato farming, double cropping and scientific farming was waged in the field of agriculture to provide a guarantee for increasing grain production.

Modern stock-breeding bases, fish farms, vegetable greenhouses, mushroom farms and vast thriving orchards were built across the country.

In fisheries a campaign for carrying out the Party’s idea of creating a new history of sea of gold has been waged to make a breakthrough in the development of the fishing industry.

Technical updating and the work for ensuring the local supply of raw and other materials has been positively conducted in factories and enterprises in the field of light industry to ensure increased production and supply of quality consumer goods for people.

Many monumental edifices representing the era of the Workers’ Party to which the Juche-oriented architectural idea was applied were built to lay a solid foundation for socialist economic construction and improvement of the people’s living standards.

Able scientists and technicians grew in number while the material and technical foundation for the scientific researches was consolidated despite economic hardship, bringing about radical development of the science and technology.

Fresh progress was made in the education as required by the IT era with the enforcement of the universal 12-year compulsory education and the establishment of the remote education system.

In another speech, Kim “set forth tasks for completing [the] socialist cause.” KCNA published the speech the same day it was given, and Kim does mention some goals connected to economic matters. This is, to my knowledge, the first statement where Kim actually elaborates somewhat on the five-year plan (my emphasis added):

We should attach importance to talents and attain the goal of turning all people into scientific and technological talents.

It is necessary to lay a firm material and technological foundation of the state and bring about a turn in improving the people’s living standard.

It is necessary to work out a phased strategy for the development of the national economy in a scientific and realistic way and carry out it without fail.

As an immediate task we should thoroughly carry out the five-year strategy for the state economic development from 2016 to 2020.

Note that Kim mentions “external economic relations” before any other matters when discussing the priorities of the five-year plan:

It is necessary to expand and develop external economic relations.

One could speculate whether the following pronouncement alludes to the enterprise management changes under Kim Jong-un — the true meaning of the statement seems to hinge on how one interprets “responsible”:

We should conduct the state unified guidance and strategic management of the economic work in a responsible manner.

The two statements above are the only ones that directly concern economic policy. They are fairly vague, but Kim’s expansions of special economic zones and management reforms come to mind.

Other parts of the speech are not necessarily interesting because of their connection to the economy. This is presumably a reference to the problem of people illegally watching foreign movies and tv-series (my emphasis):

We should usher in an overall efflorescence in the socialist literature and arts.

It is necessary to shatter the imperialist ideological and cultural poisoning and strictly preserve our socialist culture and lifestyle.

We should establish strong moral discipline throughout the society.

It is necessary to further increase the might of the politico-ideological power and military power.

We should more firmly cement the harmonious whole of the party and the popular masses.

We should detect and shatter all moves of the enemies to destabilize our socialism in good time and firmly defend our ideology and social system, class position and single-minded unity.

During the second day, Kim continued his review of the KWP’s work in another speech, and was no stranger to recognizing North Korea’s problems. In affirming North Korea’s “independence,” Kim struck a familiar chord and repeated a suspicion against foreign “aid” that both his grandfather and father often spoke of (my emphasis):

He noted that in the period under review, a radical change was made in the world political structure and correlation of forces and the international circumstances of the Korean revolution remained very complicated.


For global independence, it is important for each country and nation to maintain their sovereignty, holding aloft the banner of independence against imperialism.

The core of the struggle against imperialism is to frustrate the moves of the U.S. and its followers for aggression and war and defend the global peace and security.

Underscoring the need to conduct a vigorous struggle to get the aggressive military blocs, the root of military confrontation and war, dissolved and the military bases for aggression removed from other countries and thus build a new peaceful world, he continued:

All countries and nations aspiring after independence should never harbor any expectation and illusion about the imperialists’ cunning double-dealing tactics and hypocritical “aid”, but preserve the Juche character and national identity.

The progressive mankind of the world should vigorously struggle for international justice, irrespective of differences in political view, religious belief and economic and cultural development.

It is sometimes difficult to understand how the North Korean regime conceives of the logic behind Byungjin (parallel development of nuclear weapons and the economy), but the following passage gives a hint — with nuclear weapons, the country will be in a stronger position to negotiate its standing in all other areas as well:

Since it retained the status of a full-fledged independent power, a nuclear power, the DPRK will develop its external relations in conformity with the status.

Day 3 (5/8/2016)

On the third day, one of the main statements concerned the work of the auditing commission of the KWP. If one were to speculate, it may not be completely far-fetched to connect this emphasis on internal financial control with the anti-corruption drive launched earlier this year. This is what the designated rapporteur had to say about the work of the commission:

The reporter said the Party Central Auditing Commission confirmed that the party finance has properly performed its mission and duty and all financial activities have been conducted correctly on the principle of the party in the period under review on the basis of the audit data and reports of the review of the work of the auditing commissions submitted to the provincial party conferences.

He underlined the need to steadily improve the party’s financial management as required by the new era of the Juche revolution.

Kim Jong-un made a concluding review on the last day of the congress, also carried by KCNA (emphasis added):

It is necessary to continue to carry out the party’s strategic line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force [byungjin].

This strategic line is the most revolutionary and scientific one reflecting the lawful requirements of building a thriving socialist nation and the specific conditions of our country.

Byungjin was also front and center in the decision adopted on the review of the Party by the congress (also carried by KCNA) (emphasis added):

We will consolidate the position of the political and military power and fly the flag of victory on the eminence of the scientific and technological power, an economic giant and a highly civilized nation.

We will take the general line of socialist construction and the principle of self-development as the constant strategic line, win a great victory in building a thriving socialist nation and successfully realize the historic cause of modeling the whole society on Kimilsungism and Kimjongilism.

We will make a new leap forward in the development of the country’s science and technology, open up an era prospering with science and bring about a revolutionary turn in socialist construction in a short span of time.

We will work out the phased strategy for the national economic development in a scientific and realistic manner and carry it out without fail and carry through the five-year strategy for the state economic development from 2016 to 2020 for the present.

We will accelerate the building of a highly civilized socialist country and thus bring up all the people to be able men for the socialist construction with profound knowledge and cultural attainments, and provide them with conditions and environment for leading a wealthy and a highly civilized life to their heart’s content.

International media was not allowed in to witness the congress proceedings for most of the event, but that probably made for more interesting dispatches anyway. Reuters noted the increasing prevalence of electric bikes in Pyongyang:

While pedal-powered bikes still predominate on Pyongyang’s wide avenues, the electric bike trend began in the last year, locals and foreign residents of the North Korean capital said.

On Saturday, a Reuters journalist covering the congress saw six of the bikes in the space of 10 minutes.

“You can carry luggage,” said Kim Chol Jin, a computer science student at Kim Chaek University of Technology, who was riding his electric bike along Mirae Scientists Street.

“My wife bought me this to help shorten my commute,” he told Reuters journalists, who were accompanied by a government guide.

The proliferation of electric bicycles follows another recent local consumer trend: a surge in residential usage of LED light bulbs and solar panels, to get around the country’s chronic electricity shortage.

A bike made by a Chinese company called Anqi was for sale this week in Pyongyang’s Kwangbok Department Store for 2.62 million won – around $330 at the unofficial exchange rate of 8,000 won to the dollar. While that is well beyond the reach of the average North Korean, an expanding gray market economy has given rise to a growing consumer class known as “donju”, or “masters of money”.

Full article:
Power to the people: electric bikes take off in North Korea
James Pearson

Day four (5/9/2016) 

The 7th Party Congress concluded with a statement calling for a “general offensive toward complete victory of socialism,” also carried by KCNA (emphasis added):

It stressed that the main idea of the decision made at the 7th Congress of the WPK is to arouse the entire party, the whole country, the entire army and all the people again to the struggle for winning the final victory in the building of a thriving socialist nation as soon as possible [a rather ambiguous timeline, to say the least…] and thus make them wage a general offensive in the period up to the 8th Congress.

The 7th WPK Congress called upon all the servicepersons, youths and other people to launch a Mallima speed campaign of rapid progress and innovation for the implementation of its decision in every sector and unit, the appeal said, adding:

The entire party, the whole country and all the servicepersons and civilians should dash toward the high eminence of a thriving nation at the speed of Mallima.

And if anyone ever thought that the core characteristics of North Korea’s political system were ambiguous:

Never tolerate but mercilessly squash any element contrary to the idea and intention of the respected Comrade Kim Jong Un and any slightest act of breaking our single-minded unity and backbiting at our Party’s policies.

Science and technology were prevalent themes in much of the rhetoric from the congress:

Let us build an economic and highly-civilized power by dint of science and technology and thus make the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, our beloved motherland, the envy of the whole world.

This whole paragraph is one sentence:

Let us put the nation’s industry and agriculture on a modern, scientific and IT basis our own way and at the earliest date with our technology, efforts and resources and thus raise the level of the national economy to that of the most developed countries under the banner of self-development-first principle for turning everything of the country into wealth of socialism hard to find in other parts of the world, making the latest science and technology our possessions and creating everything with our materials.

Byungjin again:

Let all the people implement more thoroughly and steadily the Party’s line of simultaneously developing the two fronts, each holding arms in one hand and a hammer or a sickle in the other.

The cooperative farm that Washington Post visited got a special shot-out:

Let us raise the level of every factory and farm to that of the January 18 General Machinery Plant and the Jangchon Vegetable Co-op Farm and build every structure into such spectacular edifice as the Sci-Tech Complex and Mirae Scientists Street.

Beyond the congress

How much did this all cost the North Korean state? A Korea University scholar has attempted a calculation, as reported by Yonhap, and lands at a figure of more than $200 million, placing policy choices such as not increasing imports to close the gap between food need and availability, for example:

North Korea probably spent more than US$200 million on the just-ended ruling party congress, which will further burden the already impoverished country, a local scholar who keeps track of developments in the reclusive country said Friday.

Korea University’s Nam Sung-wook made the claim in an analysis of the four daylong Seventh Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) that ended Monday. He described the rare convention as a “political show.”


n the assessment, the academic argued the communist country spent at least the amount he estimated in the past six months for the “self coronation” of leader Kim Jong-un.

He said the move’s sole aim seems to be the consolidation of the hereditary power succession. The current leader inherited the country after the sudden death of his father in late 2011, while the late Kim Jong-il took over after his own father, the North’s founder Kim Il-sung, died in July 1994.

“Ultimately, the huge amount of money spent will result in a greater burden for North Koreans,” he said.


In another paper, professor Yang Moon-soo of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said the Pyongyang regime will likely pursue a market-friendly economic policy for the time being.

Cho Bong-hyun, a researcher at the state-run Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK), on the other hand, said the five-year economic development plan issued by Kim Jong-un at the party congress will turn out to be a failure and will eventually come to haunt the regime down the road.

Full article:
N. Korea spends over $200 mln on Workers’ Party congress: scholar
Yonhap News

This blog looks forward to closely following the implementation of the five-year plan!

UPDATE 1: The National Committee on North Korea has posted all of Kim Jong-un’s speeches.

UPDATE 2: Bob Carlin writes about his thoughts on the congress in 38 North.

UPDATE 3: Ruediger Frank writes about the economic aspects of the congress here. Here is the speech (PDF) to which Dr. Frank refers.


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

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


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.


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


Worker’s Party conference wrap-up

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

1. Below are some photos of the conference posted on including the first official pictures of Kim Jong-un:

2. As mentioned in the previous post, Kim Jong-il’s sister and son were named to the KPA and various KWP offices.

3. Hu Jintao endorses the conference outcome.  According to KCNA:

I, on behalf of the CPC Central Committee and on my own behalf, extend warm congratulations to you on the successful WPK Conference, your reelection as general secretary of the WPK and the election of its supreme leadership body.

The WPK headed by General Secretary Kim Jong Il has achieved great successes in the cause of building Korean-style socialism through self-reliance and strenuous efforts by leading all the Korean people for many years.

In recent years the Korean people have made a series of admirable achievements in economic development, improvement of the people’s standard of living and other fields to build a great prosperous and powerful nation.

China and the DPRK maintain deep and traditional friendship and close geographical relationship with wide-ranging common interests.

It is the steadfast policy of the Chinese party and government to consolidate and develop the Sino-DPRK friendly and cooperative relations.

We defend and promote the bilateral relationship, always holding fast to it in a strategic view under the long-term discernment no matter how the international situation may change.

We will strive together with the DPRK side to steadily put the bilateral relations on a new stage and provide greater happiness to the peoples of the two countries and make greater contribution to achieving lasting peace and common prosperity of the region.

I heartily wish you and the WPK continued and greater fresh successes in the work to build a thriving nation by leading the Korean people.

Hu Jintao repeated support a couple of days later.  According to the  AFP:

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Saturday pledged to strengthen ties with the new leadership in North Korea, during a visit to Beijing by a senior delegation from Pyongyang, state media reported.

Hu’s comments come after ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il this week offered senior posts in the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) to his son Jong-Un and promoted him to the rank of general — signs that he is the heir apparent.

China is North Korea’s sole major ally and provides an economic lifeline to impoverished Pyongyang.

“We believe that the WPK, the DPRK government and people will see new achievements in their national construction under the new WPK leadership,” Hu said, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency.

Hu, who has welcomed Kim to China twice this year, said the Communist party would work with the WPK’s new leaders to “promote and expand cooperation” and “strengthen communication” on regional and international issues, Xinhua said.

The leader of the North Korean delegation, party politburo member Choe Thae Bok, said Kim’s decision to dispatch a high-level group of envoys so soon after the WPK conference “shows the importance the DPRK attaches to the consensus reached by leaders of the two countries,” the report added.

4. KCNA recounts the conference outcomes:

WPK Conference Held
Pyongyang, September 28 (KCNA) — The Conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea was held with success in Pyongyang on Sept. 28.

Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the WPK and chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, was present at the Conference.

Present there were delegates elected at the meeting of WPK delegates of the Korean People’s Army and provincial and political bureaus’ meetings of delegates of the WPK.

Officials of the party, armed forces and power organs, working people’s organizations, ministries and national institutions, servicepersons and officials in the fields of science, education, public health, culture and arts and media attended the Conference as observers.

All the participants observed a moment’s silence in memory of President Kim Il Sung who successfully accomplished the cause of founding the Juche-type revolutionary party for the first time in history and developed the WPK into a powerful ever-victorious staff of the revolution.

Kim Yong Nam made an opening address.

Choe Yong Rim worked as chairman at the Conference upon authorization by the consultative meeting of provincial delegates.

The Conference elected its Presidium.

The Presidium included Kim Jong Il and Kim Yong Nam, Choe Yong Rim, Kim Yong Chun, Jang Song Thaek, Ri Yong Ho, Kim Jong Gak, Jon Pyong Ho, Choe Thae Bok, Yang Hyong Sop, Hong Sok Hyong, Kim Kuk Thae, Kim Ki Nam, Paek Se Bong, U Tong Chuk and Ju Kyu Chang.

The Conference decided on the following agenda items.

1. On the reelection of the great leader Comrade Kim Jong Il as general secretary of the WPK
2. On the revision of the WPK rules
3. Election of the central leadership body of the WPK

The Conference discussed the first agenda item.

Kim Yong Nam delivered a speech proposing Kim Jong Il’s reelection as general secretary of the WPK.

He said in his speech that Kim Jong Il has devoted his all to the prosperity of the country and the nation and the victory of the revolutionary cause of Juche only for decades since he embarked upon the road of the revolution.

The half a century-long history of Kim Jong Il’s revolutionary activities was a history of heroic struggles in which he blazed the path with his ceaseless thinking and pursuit and extraordinary energy and a history of victories in which he made gigantic creation and innovations with his iron will and pluck, the speaker said, and continued:

The recent meeting of WPK delegates of the KPA and meetings of provincial and political bureaus elected Kim Jong Il as a delegate of the WPK Conference reflecting the unanimous will of the army and people of the DPRK to invariably hold Kim Jong Il in high esteem as general secretary of the WPK.

Having Kim Jong Il at the top post of the WPK, organizer and guide of all victories of the Korean people, is the greatest happiness and highest honor of all the party members, servicepersons and people.

Kim Yong Nam courteously proposed to the Conference the reelection of Kim Jong Il as general secretary of the WPK reflecting the unanimous will and wishes of all the party members, servicepersons and people of the country.

Then followed speeches by Chief of the KPA General Staff Ri Yong Ho who is a delegate of the KPA party organization, First Secretary of the C.C., the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League Ri Yong Chol who is a delegate of the Pyongyang City party organization, Chairman of the C.C., the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea Hyon Sang Ju who is a delegate of the Jagang Provincial party organization, Chairman of the C.C., the Union of Agricultural Workers of Korea Ri Myong Gil who is a delegate of the North Phyongan Provincial party organization and President of Kim Il Sung University and concurrently Minister of Higher Education Song Ja Rip who is a delegate of the Pyongyang City party organization.

The speakers fully supported and approved in unison the proposal of the Conference on reelecting Kim Jong Il as general secretary of the WPK.

A resolution of the WPK Conference on reelecting Kim Jong Il as general secretary of the WPK was read out there.

The Conference discussed the second agenda item.

A resolution on the revision of the WPK rules was adopted.

The Conference discussed the third agenda item.

The Conference declared that Kim Il Sung, founder of the WPK and outstanding leader who led the party and the revolution to victories only, would be always held in esteem at the supreme leadership organ of the WPK reflecting the unanimous will and wishes of all the party members, servicepersons and people.

It also declared that Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the WPK, was reelected as member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK, member of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK, member of the C.C., the WPK and chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK according to the WPK rules and the detailed regulations for the election of the supreme leadership body of the WPK.

The Conference elected the central leadership body of the WPK.

Then followed the election of members and alternate members of the C.C., the WPK.

Candidates for the members and alternate members of the C.C., the WPK were elected as members and alternate members of the C.C., the WPK.

The members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK were elected.

Candidates for the members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK were elected as members of the commission.

The Conference notified its participants of the decisions of the September 2010 Plenary Meeting of the C.C., the WPK.

The results of the election of the Presidium of the Political Bureau and the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK and the secretaries of the C.C., the WPK and organization of the Secretariat were made public there.

The results of organization of the Central Military Commission of the WPK were released.

The appointment of the department directors of the C.C., the WPK and the editor-in-chief of Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the C.C., the WPK, and the results of election of the Control Commission of the C.C., the WPK were made public.

The Conference notified its participants of the decisions made at the First Plenary Meeting of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK.

Kim Yong Nam made a closing speech.

The Conference marked a significant occasion that demonstrated the revolutionary faith and will of all the party members, servicepersons and people to glorify the WPK as the glorious party of Kim Il Sung for all ages and accomplish the Songun revolutionary cause of Juche started on Mt. Paektu by invariably having Kim Jong Il, peerless political elder and illustrious Songun commander, at the top post of the party and the revolution.

5. According to  KCNA the WPK rules were changed, but I am unsure how.

6. Official Report on Plenum of WPK Central Committee:

The meeting discussed the following agenda items:

1. Election of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee

2. Election of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee

3. Election of Secretaries of the WPK Central Committee and on Organization of the Secretariat

4. On Organization of the WPK Central Military Commission

5. On Appointment of Department Directors of the WPK Central Committee and the Editor-in-Chief of Rodong Sinmun, an Organ of the WPK Central Committee

6. Election of the Control Commission of the WPK Central Committee

The meeting elected the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee.

It elected secretaries of the WPK Central Committee and organized the Secretariat.

It organized the WPK Central Military Commission.

It appointed department directors of the WPK Central Committee and the editor-in-chief of Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the WPK Central Committee.

It elected chairman, vice-chairmen and members of the Control Commission of the WPK Central Committee.

7. According to KCNA: The Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Workers’ Party of Korea Central Committee is made up of Kim Jong Il, Kim Yong Nam, Choe Yong Rim, Jo Myong Rok and Ri Yong Ho.

8. According to KCNAMembers of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea are Kim Jong Il, Kim Yong Nam, Choe Yong Rim, Jo Myong Rok, Ri Yong Ho, Kim Yong Chun, Jon Pyong Ho, Kim Kuk Thae, Kim Ki Nam, Choe Thae Bok, Yang Hyong Sop, Kang Sok Ju, Pyon Yong Rip, Ri Yong Mu, Ju Sang Song, Hong Sok Hyong and Kim Kyong Hui. Alternate members of the Political Bureau are Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Il, Pak To Chun, Choe Ryong Hae, Jang Song Thaek, Ju Kyu Chang, Ri Thae Nam, Kim Rak Hui, Thae Jong Su, Kim Phyong Hae, U Tong Chuk, Kim Jong Gak, Pak Jong Sun, Kim Chang Sop and Mun Kyong Dok.

9. According to KCNA: The Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea is as follows: Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea. Secretaries of the C.C., WPK Kim Ki Nam, Choe Thae Bok, Choe Ryong Hae, Mun Kyong Dok, Pak To Chun, Kim Yong Il, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Phyong Hae, Thae Jong Su and Hong Sok Hyong

10. According to KCNA: The Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea is as follows: Chairman Kim Jong Il, Vice-Chairmen Kim Jong Un and Ri Yong Ho and Members Kim Yong Chun, Kim Jong Gak, Kim Myong Guk, Kim Kyong Ok, Kim Won Hong, Jong Myong Do, Ri Pyong Chol, Choe Pu Il, Kim Yong Chol, Yun Jong Rin, Ju Kyu Chang, Choe Sang Ryo, Choe Kyong Song, U Tong Chuk, Choe Ryong Hae and Jang Song Thaek.

11. According to KCNA: Department directors of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea:  Kim Ki Nam, Jang Song Thaek, Kim Yong Il, Kim Phyong Hae, Ri Yong Su, Ju Kyu Chang, Hong Sok Hyong, Kim Kyong Hui, Choe Hui Jong, O Il Jong, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Jong Im, Chae Hui Jong and Thae Jong Su.  Kim Ki Ryong was nominated to be editor-in-chief of Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the WPK Central Committee.

12. According to KCNAMembers and Alternate Members of WPK Central Committee:The following are members of the WPK Central Committee: Kim Jong Il, Kang Nung Su, Kang Tong Yun, Kang Sok Ju, Kang Phyo Yong, Kang Yang Mo, Ko Pyong Hyon, Kim Kuk Thae, Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Kyong Ok, Kim Ki Nam, Kim Ki Ryong, Kim Rak Hui, Kim Myong Guk, Kim Pyong Ryul, Kim Pyong Ho, Kim Song Dok, Kim Song Chol, Kim Jong Gak, Kim Jong Suk, Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Im, Kim Chang Sop, Kim Chol Man, Kim Chun Sam, Kim Thae Bong, Kim Phyong Hae, Kim Hyong Ryong, Kim Hyong Sik, Kim Hi Thaek, Kim Yang Gon, Kim Yong Nam, Kim Yong Chun, Kim Yong Il, Kim Yong Chol, Kim Yong Jin, Kim In Sik, Kim Won Hong, Kwak Pom Gi, Ryang Man Gil, Ryo Chun Sok, Ro Tu Chol, Ro Pae Gwon, Ryu Yong Sop, Ri Ryong Nam, Ri Man Gon, Ri Myong Su, Ri Mu Yong, Ri Pyong Sam, Ri Pyong Chol, Ri Pong Dok, Ri Pong Juk, Ri Thae Nam, Ri Hyong Gun, Ri Hi Hon, Ri Yong Gil, Ri Yong Su, Ri Yong Ho, Ri Yong Mu, Ri Yong Hwan, Ri Yong Chol, Ri Ul Sol, Rim Kyong Man, Mun Kyong Dok, Pak Kwang Chol, Pak To Chun, Pak Myong Chol, Pak Su Gil, Pak Sung Won, Pak Jong Sun, Pak Jong Gun, Pak Jae Gyong, Pak Thae Dok, Pak Ui Chun, Pyon Yong Rip, Pyon In Son, Paek Se Bong, Song Ja Rip, Jang Pyong Gyu, Jang Song Thaek, Jang Chol, Jon Kil Su, Jon Ryong Guk, Jon Pyong Ho, Jon Jin Su, Jon Chang Bok, Jon Ha Chol, Jon Hui Jong, Jong Myong Do, Jong Ho Gyun, Jong In Guk, Jo Kyong Chol, Jo Myong Rok, Jo Pyong Ju, Ju Kyu Chang, Ju Sang Song, Ju Yong Sik, Cha Sung Su, Chae Hui Jong, Choe Kyong Song, Choe Ryong Hae, Choe Pu Il, Choe Sang Ryo, Choe Thae Bok, Choe Hui Jong, Choe Yong Dok, Choe Yong Rim, Thae Jong Su, Han Kwang Bok, Han Tong Gun, Hyon Chol Hae, Hyon Yong Chol, Hong Sok Hyong, Hong In Bom, An Jong Su, Yang Tong Hun, Yang Hyong Sop, O Kuk Ryol, O Kum Chol, O Su Yong, O Il Jong, U Tong Chuk, Yun Tong Hyon and Yun Jong RinThe alternate members are: Kang Ki Sop, Kang Kwan Ju, Kang Kwan Il, Kang Min Chol, Kang Hyong Bong, Ko Su Il, Kim Kyok Sik, Kim Kye Gwan, Kim Tong Un, Kim Tong Il, Kim Tong I, Kim Tong Il, Kim Myong Sik, Kim Pyong Hun, Kim Pong Ryong, Kim Chang Myong, Kim Chon Ho, Kim Chung Gol, Kim Thae Mun, Kim Hui Yong, Kim Yong Suk, Kim Yong Jae, Kim Yong Ho, Kim Yong Gwang, Kim U Ho, Kwon Hyok Bong, No Kwang Chol, Tong Jong Ho, Tong Yong Il, Ryom In Yun, Ro Kyong Jun, Ro Song Sil, Ryu Kyong, Ri Kuk Jun, Ri Ki Su, Ri Myong Gil, Ri Min Chol, Ri Sang Gun, Ri Song Gwon, Ri Su Yong, Ri Jong Sik, Ri Jae Il, Ri Je Son, Ri Chan Hwa, Ri Chang Han, Ri Chol, Ri Chun Il, Ri Thae Sop, Ri Thae Chol, Ri Hong Sop, Ri Hi Su, Ri Yong Ju, Ri Yong Ho, Ri Il Nam, Pak Ri Sun, Pak Pong Ju, Pak Chang Bom, Paek Kye Ryong, Paek Ryong Chon, So Tong Myong, Son Chong Nam, Song Kwang Chol, Sin Sung Hun, Jang Myong Hak, Jang Yong Gol, Jang Ho Chan, Jon Kyong Son, Jon Kwang Rok, Jon Song Ung, Jon Chang Rim, Jong Myong Hak, Jong Pong Phil, Jong Pong Gun, Jong Un Hak, Jo Song Hwan, Jo Jae Yong, Jo Yong Chol, Ji Jae Ryong, Cha Kyong Il, Cha Jin Sun, Cha Yong Myong, Choe Ki Ryong, Choe Kwan Jun, Choe Tae Il, Choe Pong Ho, Choe Chan Gon, Choe Chun Sik, Choe Hyon, Choe Yong Do, Choe Yong, Thae Hyong Chol, Han Chang Nam, Han Chang Sun, Han Hung Phyo, Ho Song Gil, Hyon Sang Ju, Hong Kwang Sun, Hong So Hon, Hong Sung Mu, Hwang Pyong So, Hwang Sun Hui, Hwang Hak Won, An Tong Chun, Yang In Guk and O Chol San.

13. According to KCNA: The plenum elected chairman, vice-chairmen and members of the Control Commission of the WPK Central Committee. Kim Kuk Thae was elected chairman, Jong Myong Hak first vice-chairman, Ri Tuk Nam vice-chairman and Cha Kwan Sok, Pak Tok Man, Cha Sun Gil and Kim Yong Son members of the commission.

14. According to KCNA: The First Plenary Meeting of the Central Auditing Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea was held here on Sept. 28.  Present there were Kim Chang Su, Pak Myong Sun, Choe Pae Jin, Kim Chol, Sim Chol Ho, O Ryong Il, Kye Yong Sam, Ryu Hyon Sik, Ko Myong Hui, Pang Yong Uk, Jang Jong Ju, Ho Kwang Uk, Ji Tong Sik, Jong Pong Sok and Choe Kwon Su, members of the commission elected at the Conference of the WPK. The meeting elected chairman and vice-chairperson of the commission. Kim Chang Su was elected chairman and Pak Myong Sun vice-chairperson.

15. The Daily NK offers a summary of the conference.

16. Mike has a summary at NK Leadership Watch.

17. The Choson Ilbo reports that the conference was scaled down:

The extraordinary congress of the North Korean Workers Party which convened Tuesday was apparently held at a smaller venue than previously expected. The Mansudae Assembly Hall (The Supreme People’s Assembly building), where it took place, seats 1,000, whereas previous guesses had put it at the 6,000-seater April 25 Cultural Hall or the People’s Cultural Palace, which has 2,000 seats.

That suggests only 500 to 700 delegates attended the congress since a half of the seats at a party congress are normally filled with audience members. In comparison, some 1, 323 delegates attended the second party congress in October 1966.

A high-ranking North Korean defector who saw photos of the latest party congress said it is clear that the event was considerably scaled down, in sharp contrast to the past event that had been held in a festive mood involving some 6,000 people.

A senior source in North Korea also put the number of delegates at about 500, saying even some very senior officials had not been selected as delegates.

The North seems to have downscaled the event due to anxiety over the leadership succession and a volatile mood in the country including signs of public unrest as food rations in Pyongyang were suspended, the source added.

Many people who were unable to fit into the main conference hall reportedly watched the congress on video screens installed at the April 25 Cultural Hall and the People’s Cultural Palace.

18. Previous posts on the conference can be found here in chronological order: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,  here.


Aidan Foster-Carter offers DPRK current events summary…

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

In the East Asia Forum:

June 2010 saw two major anniversaries on the Korean peninsula. On June 25 sixty years ago the Korean People’s Army (KPA) invaded the South launching a bitter three-year war. North Korea still denies culpability, claiming it was repelling a Southern invasion; despite overwhelming evidence, now backed by Soviet archives, that it was the aggressor. No less mendaciously Pyongyang nonetheless celebrates the July 27, 1953 Armistice which ended open hostilities as a ‘brilliant victory in the Fatherland Liberation War’ — even though this left the North bombed and napalmed to ruination.

China still formally backs the North’s version, but this year some brave soul decided to take seriously the late Deng Xiaoping’s instruction to ‘Seek truth from facts.’ The International Herald Leader, an affiliate of Xinhua news agency let the cat out of the bag. It featured interviews with Chinese historians telling the true story, and a timeline stating that ‘The North Korean military crossed the parallel on June 25 1950 and Seoul was taken in four days.’ Naturally, the article rapidly vanished from the web. But many Chinese now are openly critical of the DPRK, and embarrassed that Beijing continues to toe Pyongyang’s line.

North Korea itself sticks to the old tunes. On June 22 the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported what it headlined as ‘Revenge-vowing Meetings.’

Youth and students and agricultural workers gathered in Susan-ri… and in Sinchon … Tuesday to vow to take revenge upon the U.S. imperialists on the occasion of the ‘June 25, the day of the struggle against the U.S. imperialists’.

The reporters and speakers at the meetings recalled that the U.S. imperialists brutally destroyed cities, villages, factories and farms and killed innocent civilians…denouncing the Yankees as a herd of wolves in human skin and the Koreans’ sworn-enemy with whom they cannot live under the same sky…

They bitterly condemned the U.S. imperialists and the Lee group of traitors for totally negating the historic June 15 North-South Joint….

If the U.S. imperialists intrude into the DPRK even an inch, all the servicepersons and people will mercilessly wipe out the aggressors.

Rhetoric like the above is clearly intended to fan the flames of hatred.

A further KCNA item on June 24 purported to list the ‘Tremendous Damage Done to DPRK by US.’ The KCNA, with unusual precision, computed a total of nearly 65 trillion dollars for human and material losses inflicted from 1945 up to the present. Considering the state of US public finances, Kim Jong-il should not expect a cheque any time soon. There is also a degree of inflation; last time KCNA published such an exercise, in November 2003, the bill was a mere US$ 43 trillion. One can only wonder what is the point of such grandstanding.

So savage a mood has torpedoed a second anniversary; one which should have been happier. On June 13 2000 South Korea’s then president, the veteran democrat Kim Dae-jung flew to Pyongyang for the first ever inter-Korean summit with the North’s leader, Kim Jong-il. On June 15 they signed a North-South Joint Declaration; Kim Dae-jung was awarded that year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Thus began a decade of unprecedented North-South cooperation, albeit patchy and one-sided. This ‘sunshine’ policy was ended by South Korea’s current president, Lee Myung-bak, who insists that the North must give up its nuclear weapons first if it wants better ties with the South. That sounds fine in theory, but few expect it will ever happen.

North Korea made much of the June 15 anniversary, even while excoriating the ‘traitor’ Lee Myung-bak for trampling on it. Pyongyang warmly welcomed a South Korean radical priest, Han Song-ryeol, who made the trip illegally to mark the occasion.

South Korea by contrast played up the war anniversary more than the inter-Korean one. Lee Myung-bak used this occasion to once again call on the North to admit that it sank the ROK corvette Cheonan on March 26, and to apologise.

Will the Cheonan go unpunished?
Nevertheless, it looks increasingly like Pyongyang has got away with it. June brought Lee Myung-bak little joy on the issue, at home or abroad. Local elections in South Korea on June 2 saw his ruling Grand National Party (GNP) rebuffed. Many voters saw Lee’s tough first reactions, which roiled global markets, as adding to rather than reducing risk.

Abroad too Lee has met obstacles. Assured of firm US and other Western support he is struggling to convince Russia and China. That was predictable: for Beijing and Moscow, unwillingness to paint Pyongyang into a corner was always going to trump the facts. A Russian naval team visited Seoul to inspect the Cheonan wreckage, including DPRK torpedo parts, but is not expected to report until July. In this light the ROK government will be relieved that the G-8 summit in Canada on June 25 issued a strong statement on the Cheonan – after energetic lobbying by Japan’s new prime minister Naoto Kan, which will get his relations with Lee Myung-bak off to a good start. Connoisseurs of diplomatic wordplay noted that while the G-8 condemned the attack, noted that an international team had blamed it on Pyongyang, and called on the DPRK to avoid any attacks against the ROK, it did not quite join up all those dots; doubtless at Moscow’s behest. Lee may lobby similarly when he arrives for the ensuing G-20 summit; although since South Korea chairs the group and will host its next jamboree in Seoul in November, it may look bad if he were perceived as acting in too particularist a way.

Earlier, on June 4 South Korea formally referred the Cheonan incident to the UN Security Council (UNSC). On June 14 both Korean states briefed the UNSC, with the North as ever denying all responsibility and urging the Council not to consider the matter. No official response is expected until July. With Russia and China likely to abstain at best, whatever the Security Council eventually comes up with looks set to be a damp squib. South Korea has already said it will not seek further sanctions, on top of those already in force under earlier UNSC resolutions from 2006 and 2009 after the North’s two nuclear tests. But it would like a clear, resounding condemnation, preferably in the form of a resolution.

Looking ahead, it is not too soon to wonder how the two Koreas will get past Cheonan. Record numbers of DPRK workers at the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ) – 44,000 as of June, according to the ROK unification ministry (MOU) – are seen in Seoul as a sign that at some level Pyongyang remains committed to this joint venture at least.

A big event in September
Meanwhile North Korea looks more preoccupied with the succession issue than in reaching out to South Korea.

On June 26 KCNA reported that ‘the Political Bureau of the WPK [Workers’ Party of Korea] Central Committee decides to convene early in September … a conference of the WPK for electing its highest leading body reflecting the new requirements of the WPK.’

Though nominally it is North Korea’s ruling communist party, and still an important tool of control at lower echelons, the WPK has seen its topmost organs atrophy under Kim Jong-il. Neither the rarely mentioned Politburo nor the Central Committee (CC) is known to have met at all in the 16 years since Kim Il-sung died. Kim Jong-il has favoured the army, ruling through the NDC and informally via a kitchen cabinet of trusted cronies. The dear leader is also of course secretary-general of the WPK, but he acquired that post irregularly: by acclamation at a series of local Party meetings, rather than being duly elected by the CC.

Hence while the precise nature of September’s meeting remains vague, like its exact date, it looks like a long overdue effort to restore a measure of due process to the Party. If this is in fact a full formal WPK congress, it would be the first since the Sixth Congress thirty years ago in October 1980. It was then that Kim Jong-il, hitherto veiled behind coded references to a mysterious ‘Party Centre’, was finally revealed in the flesh. The speculation is that this new meeting similarly will finally give the world a glimpse of the enigmatic Kim Jong-eun.

While all rumours emanating from Seoul should be treated carefully it’s hard not to link this news with reports that Kim Jong-il’s health is worsening. There are claims that on some aides including his son are duping him with Potemkin factories to hide from him how dire the economy really is. An already tardy succession can clearly brook no further delay, or else regime stability and continuity may be gravely imperilled.

The economy shrank again last year
If Kim Jong-il wants to know how his economy is really doing, he could look at the latest estimates from the enemy.

The (southern) Bank of Korea (BOK) published its latest estimates, covering 2009, on June 24, just in time for Seoul to crow about them as it marked the Korean War anniversary. By this reckoning North Korea’s real annual gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.9 per cent last year. Unlike most other countries this had little to do with the global financial crisis. Rather it reflected local conditions, natural and man-made.

The gaps just get wider
The result is a huge and ever widening gap. North Korea’s gross national income (GNI) in 2009 was a mere 2.7 per cent of the South’s. BOK cites Northern GNI in 2009 was US$22.4 billion, compared to US$837 billion for the South. True, the South has over twice as many people. But the average North Korean per capita income too is a minute fraction of the South’s, with the ROK topping US$17,000 while the DPRK’s is a paltry US960. (Some experts, including a former unification minister, think even this is too high and posit a figure nearer US$300, putting North Korea among the poorest nations on earth.)

With trade figures the gap is even wider. This year inter-Korean trade will fall, since Seoul has banned most of it (except the Kaesong zone, which accounts for over half) as punishment for the Cheonan. Peanuts to the South, this has been crucial for the North: South Korea is its largest market, taking almost half of its meagre total exports. Last year inter-Korean trade like DPRK trade overall fell slightly, from US$1.82 to US$1.68 billion. Yet Northern exports crept up, from US$932 to 934 million.

In 2009 North Korea’s real trade totals were just under US$2 billion in exports and US$3.1 billion in imports. They are still dwarfed by South Korea’s respective figures of US$364 and US$324 billion – and this in a bad year for the South, due to the downturn.

Every year the gap widens further, yet still Kim Jong-il refuses economic reform. It is hard to fathom a mind-set which can inflict such disaster and tragedy on a once proud land and people – and whose idea of a way out of its self-dug hole is to fire a sneaky torpedo.

Good losers
It was left to North Korea’s footballers to remind the world that their country does not lack for talent and virtue. As one would expect, North Korea were a disciplined team. They kept to themselves and avoided the press – with one striking exception, Jong Tae-se. Born in Japan to a South Korean father and a pro-North Korean mother, and having attended schools run by Chongryun – the organisation of pro-North Koreans in Japan – he elected to play for the DPRK; although he still holds ROK nationality, lives in Japan and plays in the J-League for Kawasaki Frontale.

A young man whose talk is as uninhibited as his style of play, Jong cried when the DPRK anthem was played before the Brazil match. Yet his love for his adopted homeland is not uncritical. ‘Everybody thinks about our country as being closed and mysterious, so we have to change that,’ he told AFP. ‘We can change for the better if we are more open with the way we talk to people and it would make a better team.’

It would make a better country too. If North Korea’s fate must rest in the hands of an untried youth, better it were the warm-hearted and wised-up Jong Tae-se than Kim Jong-eun.

Read the full story here:
North Korea: Unhappy anniversaries
East Asia Forum
Aidan Foster-Carter


Know the Party before Getting to Know Kim Jong Il

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

Daily NK
Namgung Min

As rumors regarding Kim Jong Il’s illness surfaced during North Korea’s 60th anniversary celebrations, opinion was divided on whether the military or the Party will rise in power post-Kim Jong Il.

It is true that the power of the military rose post-Kim Il Sung, according to the “military-first” political line. The National Defense Commission (NDC) began leading various agencies and councils, and came to hold greater power because Kim Jong Il was introduced as the National Defense Commission Chairman during North-South Summits.

Thus, the National Defense Commission under military-first politics began to appear to be North Korea’s sole power base, as news on general-level promotions was released publicly by the National Defense Commission.

However, despite military-first politics, it remains the Chosun (North Korea) Workers’ Party that fundamentally controls the North Korean regime. Therefore, in order to understand the North Korean regime, one must understand the Chosun Workers’ Party.

Upcoming October 10th is the founding anniversary of this most important of organizations. The eyes of the world are focused on whether Kim Jong Il will appear on this day or not.

Therefore, it is time to closely examine what the Chosun Workers’ Party does and how it controls the North Korean regime.

The Korean Workers’ Party claims to be the direct heir to the North Korean Branch of the Chosun Communist Party that was established during “The Chosun Communist Party Convention of Leaders and Devotees of the 5 Northwest Provincial Party Committees” held on October 10th, 1945. Hence the founding date is October 10th. In April, 1946 the name was changed to the North Chosun Communist Party, which then became the Chosun (North Korean) Workers’ Party after being merged with Chosun New People’s Party in August of the same year.

North Korea is operated under the leadership of the Chosun Workers’ Party, as previously seen in other socialist countries; the nation’s power is concentrated in the Party. This implies that as the Party controls the country, the country is evolving into a socialist society and from there into a communist society.

The Workers’ Party, venerable as it is, not only holds the highest position of authority in North Korea but thus stands above other national agencies, organizations or the military.

I. The positions and roles of the Chosun Workers’ Party

The positions and roles of the Workers’ Party are described in detail in the “Rules and Regulations of the KWP,” “Ten Principals for the Party’s Unique Ideological System” and the “Socialist Constitution of North Korea.”

It is written in Article 11 of the Socialist Constitution, amended in 1998, that “The DPRK shall conduct all activities under the leadership of the Workers’ Party.” Furthermore, the Workers’ Party is stated to be an organ that controls other agencies and organizations as the highest revolutionary organization leading all other working organs.

However, the socialist constitution and the rules of the Party are only for the purpose of propagating the notion of the rationality and legitimacy of North Korea abroad while concealing a dictatorship. The reality within North Korea is completely different from the actual contents of the constitution.

In actuality, the socialist constitution and the rules and regulations of the Party defines that all sectors such as government, military, administration, judiciary, and even public prosecutor’s office are led by the Party, while being utilized as the apparatus for Kim Jong Il’s Stalinist dictatorship. That is, the regulations recognize the Party’s leadership of the country and simultaneously state that the Party can only be operated and led by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

The Workers’ Party in legal terms is an organ that guides North Koreans, but in reality it is only an organ under the iron command of the supreme Leader. Therefore, the Leader stands in the highest position, above the Party, nation and sovereign organs.

II. The structure and functions of the Chosun Workers’ Party

The utmost decision-making organ of the Workers’ Party is the National Party Congress.

According to the rules and regulations of the Party, all decision making of the Party regarding policies, strategies, and tactics should be passed through the National Party Congress. However, in actuality the Party Congress only rubber stamps the decisions that were already made by the Central Committee of the Party.

It is theoretically a ground rule that the Party Congress meets once every 5 years. The first congressional meeting was held in August 1946, the Congress met for the 6th time in October 1980, but has failed to meet since; 28 years. The fact that the Congress is not meeting regularly signifies that the regime system is not operating according to accepted principles of socialist states in the past.

If the Congress fails to meet, the Central Committee of the Party functions as the highest decision-making organ. The Central Committee should meet and discuss issues once every 6 months.

During these meetings, the General Secretary, committee members and the Presidium of the Politburo and committee members of the Central Committee of the Party should be elected. The Central Committee also has the authority to organize the Secretariat and the Central Military Commission.

However, even these twice annual meetings have not been held since the 21st meeting of the 6th cohort in 1993. When the meetings are not held, then the Politburo needs to take authority. However, the Secretariat of the Central Committee, whose General Secretary is currently Kim Jong Il, currently does so.

The highest organ in a communist society is officially the Presidium of the Politburo. In North Korea, Kim Jong Il is the only left in the presidium after the deaths of Kim Il Sung and Oh Jin Woo. This is why North Korea is sometimes called a totalitarian state. In the Chinese government, the Politburo presidium is properly functioning and decisions are made here. From a “democratic” perspective, the Chinese Communist Party and the Chosun Workers’ Party are completely different.

In any case, within the Secretariat of the Central Committee there are specialty departments such as the Guidance Department, Propaganda and Agitation Departments, and the United Front Department, and it also includes departments that supply secret funding to Kim Jong Il such as the 38th and 39th Departments.

The provincial organs of the Party consist of party committees of provinces, cities and counties that even include the most basic low-level party committees such as elementary party committees and sector party committees.

The structure of the Workers’ Party can also be divided into permanent party organs and temporary collective leadership groups. The permanent party organs include all members who work in any specialty departments, from the Central Committee down to low-level provincial party organs. Temporary collective leadership groups signify councils of high-level or low-level leaders of the central and provincial organs, made to implant permanent authority within the society through various meetings.

There are approximately 4,000,000 members of the Workers’ Party, including Kim Jong Il, high-level officials to low-level members, and figures from the legislature, judiciary, and the administration.

III. Main Departments and Their Roles

The main government complex of the Central Committee of the Worker’s Party is located in Changkwang-dong, Joong-district of Pyongyang. There are many buildings in the complex which include Kim Jong Il’s personal office and most of the Central Committee departments.

The second government complex is located in Junseung-dong, Moranbong-district of Pyongyang. The Social Culture Department, United Front Department and Operations Department are included in this complex.

The Workers’ Party has placed all specialty departments under the authority of the Secretariat, to function as restriction and guidance on all areas of the party members, citizens and North Korea. There is a Guidance Department that observes party members then there are other departments that exercise political functions.

The Guidance Department actualizes party guidance and restraint within communities. The department functions as Kim Jong Il’s right hand and as the core department by restraining the lives of all officials, members and citizens within the party.

The Guidance Department sub-divides into the inspection department, official department, party-member registration department, administration department and a communication department that allows direct reports regarding any incident or accident. The Guidance Department also manages the judiciary and the public prosecutor’s office.

The inspection department is responsible for inspecting any anti-party, non-party, undisciplined or unreasonable activities that develop within the regime or leadership of the Party and report to Kim Jong Il. The Guidance Department inspection section is strictly separated from other departments and North Korean party members or officials are all fearful of it.

There are approximately 20 specialty departments such as the Propaganda and Agility Department, the 38th and 39th Departments to supply fund to Kim Jong Il, the United Front Department dealing with South Korea, the International Department, the Science Education Department, and the Operations Department that carry out political activities.

Currently the Korean Workers’ Party is in the middle of the process of replacing 1st or 2nd generation leaders with 3rd or 4th generation, often more practical, personnel.