The status of the cabinet still rising

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

In this third year of the Kim Jong Un regime, the expanding activities of the Cabinet are drawing much attention. High-level officials of the Cabinet are frequently appearing at public events in North Korea and Kim Jong Un is repeatedly emphasizing the importance of this organ of state power.

North Korean media reported on the February 12th annual mass rally celebrating Kim Jong Un’s Songun leadership at the secret camp in Mount Paektu. The speakers at the event were reportedly Senior Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Department Deputy (1st vice) Director Choe Hwi, Vice Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Kang Pyo Yong, and Vice Premier Jon Sung Hun.

At the event, Vice Premier Jon delivered a speech and expressed determination to “follow the ideology and policy of our revered leader Kim Jong Un and solidify the monolithic leadership system of the Party in all state economic policy.” In addition, he promised to elevate the status and responsibilities of the Cabinet as “the control tower” of the nation’s economy.

The annual mass rally is held for those to display loyalty to the deceased leader Kim Jong Il (whose birthday is celebrated on February 16). The event is attended by party, state, and military officials. Since Kim Jong Un’s power transition in 2011, it is unprecedented for the North Korean media to cover the speech of the vice premier at this rally.

In addition, a national conference of sub-workteam heads in the agricultural sector (National Conference of Subworkteam Leaders in the Agriculture Sector) opened at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium from February 6 to 7. At the conference, DPRK Premier of the Cabinet Pak Pong Ju, DPRK Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Ro Tu Chol, Vice Premier and Minister of Agriculture Ri Chol Man, Vice Premier and Minister of Chemical Industry Ri Mu Yong, and other high-level Cabinet officials were present, demonstrating the rising status of the Cabinet.

In particular, Kim Jong Un sent a letter (“Let Us Bring About Innovations in Agricultural Production under the Unfurled Banner of the Socialist Rural Theses”) to the participants at the conference. In the letter, he stated that “It is essential to enhance the role of the Cabinet and the agricultural guidance organs,” and that the power to make a transformation in agricultural production will depend “largely on the role of the Cabinet and the agricultural guidance organs.”

Furthermore, DPRK Premier Pak is actively conducting onsite inspections of various agricultural and economic related sites. He visited the construction site of the Sepho Tableland on January 29 and made a field survey of the Hwanghae Iron and Steel Complex and Posan Iron Works on February 2.

In a speech in April 2012, Kim Jong Un mentioned plans to strengthen the power of the Cabinet. This policy appears to be ongoing. As North Korea continues to emphasize agriculture as a core economic focus as well as improvement of the lives of the people, the role and the activities of the Cabinet are likely to be reinforced.


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