North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has promoted economic experts and his sister to key posts in the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, revamping the rogue state’s diplomatic and economic leadership as the party celebrated its 72nd anniversary on Tuesday 12th October 2017.

At a party meeting on Saturday, Kim stressed the need for a breakthrough that could transform the country into an independent economic power.

Thae Jong-su, an economic heavyweight and former vice premier, was made a member of the Politburo and a vice chairman of the Workers’ Party. His promotion was intended both as a response to international sanctions and as preparation for bolstering the North’s economy once it completes its nuclear weapons development, according to the Seoul-based Institute for National Security Strategy.

The perfect english speaker Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho, who once suggested Pyongyang could test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean, was promoted to the Politburo as well. It is believed to be rare for multiple foreign policy experts to occupy the body, which currently includes his predecessor Ri Su-yong. Kim may be trying to strengthen North Korea’s diplomacy given growing pressure from the U.S. and China.

김여정 2
Kim Yo-jong and Kim Jong-un (Korean sources)

Kim’s younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, was also given a seat in the Politburo. Believed to be only around 30 years old, she has nevertheless rapidly ascended the ranks. She was promoted to the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party in May 2016.

Choe Ryong Hae, a vice chair of the party, was also made a member of the Central Military Commission in a signal of his rising influence.

With the reshuffle, Kim has replaced 26% of Politburo members, 44% of party vice chairs and 36% of the military commission.

Tae jong-su is not a specialist of economic affairs. He previously worked in the administration of the WPK. Nevertheless, in 1976, he was nominated as a manager of a factory in Huichon. That’s would be not enough for giving him a managerial title, as the NK economy changed drastically since 1976. Furthermore being born in 1936, his nomination is more associated to the previous leadership than to the current one.

These people are associated to economic issues, nevertheless, the NK economy has been progressively decentralized since 1996. Major NK companies are under sanctions of the UN council, and the economy of this country consist of private SME specialized in the trade with China. However, some sectors of the economy are still in the hands of the NK leadership and the kim family.. Kim Sol-song is controlling a conglomerate of logistic companies and Kim Yo-jong is at the board of several industrial companies. Their management functions can be discussed, however they do perceive some regular revenues from their associated positions.  Any changes would be marked through the nomination of young party cadres to the Politburo.

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