Nomination of a new New North Korean Army Chief

North Korea has appointed an octogenarian apparatchik to the ejector seat of Army chief, it emerged on Sunday, in yet another sign that hardline dinosaurs are currently in the ascendant in internal power struggles.

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Ri Yong-gil, N. Korea’s military chief executed on corruption charges

According to the South Korean news Agency, “the chief of North Korea’s military was executed this month on corruption and other charges, a source familiar with North Korean affairs said Wednesday. Army Gen. Ri Yong-gil, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, also faced charges of pursuing personal gains.” His predecessors (Kim Kyok-sik, Hyon Yong-chol) were probably also executed.

I consider that he may have defect to a foreign country as did former executives of the North Korean Army. Some of them are based in the US. Ri Yong-gil was the chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Armywas the since september 2013. 

ri-myong-su-et-zhou-yongkang
Ri Myong-su (not circled) and Zhou Yongkang, the former Chinese politician responsible for North Korean Affairs.

Ri Yong-gil was probably replaced by Ri Yong-mu, an advisor to Kim Jong-il on military affairs and a former Director of the KPA General Staff Operations Bureau. I already predicted in the past, that Ri Myong-su will continue to maintain a high position in the North Korean leadership. According to a North Korean Source, Ri Myong-su used to be a military mentor of Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-jong.

Pak Yong Sik: new Defense minister

North Korean officials on last Saturday confirmed Gen. Pak Yong Sik has replaced the country’s former defense minister, believed to have been executed for insubordination. The country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Pak, a four-star Army general, was promoted to head of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces. It is the first confirmation from Pyongyang since Hyon Yong Chol was executed after dozing during government meetings.

Le ministre de la Défense nord-coréen exécuté pour “trahison”?

Selon des sources sud-coréennes le ministre de la défense nord-coréenne, Hyon Yong-chol, aurait été exécuté. Il aurait été fusillé pour trahison après s’être endormi lors d’une manifestation à laquelle assistait le dirigeant Kim Jong Un (je pense que cette information est fausse), rapportent mercredi les médias sud-coréens en citant les services de renseignement.

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Russian President Meets DPRK Minister of People’s Armed Forces

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, president of the Russian Federation, on Nov. 8 met General of the Korean People’s Army Hyon Yong Chol, minister of the People’s Armed Forces, who participated in the event for congratulating Marshal Dmitri Yazov, former Soviet minister of Defense, on his 90th birthday.

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Evénement à la SOAS de Londres

C’est avec une joie non-contenue que je souhaiterais vous convier le 15 novembre à 17 heures à la SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies) de Londres dans le cadre de laquelle je présenterais un exposé consacré à l’impact des militaires dans l’économie nord-coréenne. Le lien à l’événement est disponible ici

The education of North Korean via the organization of the Choson Exchange [SECOND PART]

  1. The selection of students

Andray Abrahamian reminded me about the fact those European scholars who are welcoming North-Koreans students are sometimes more interested in speaking about the Juche Ideology than in getting a top-level education. However, and based upon his affirmation, North-Koreans students who are studying in Beijing are always at the top of their classes: therefore where is the problem? In order to identify and to avoid the issue I presented earlier, a right selection has to be performed. Choson Exchange is conducting and is generally pleased with the quality of our candidates. The candidates are generally under the age of 30. They’re able to talk in English and come mainly from Pyongyang. Given the high costs of full-length academic programs and the limited number of people “Choson Exchange” is able to invest its funds in only the “best and brightest persons.”

  1. Outlining its realizations

Choson Exchange realized various programs for North Koreans students. Some North-Koreans were sent to Singapore (Singapore is a place which was always favored by the North-Koreans leadership- Kim Il Sung wanted to create a second Singapore within North Korea).

, China and other parts of the world where they had an access to tutors and fellow who educate the young North Koreans in the following fields:

– Fiscal Optimization (Adjustments and optimizations in Fiscal Operations in the FDI field);

– Banking Institutions (cooperation with foreign entities, development of joint ventures, laws debriefing, development of a legal context for FDI in North Korea);

– Corporate Finance (Income Statements, calculation of some ratios…)

– Accounting (Balance Sheet, Assets, Ratios calculations…)

According to some documents provided by the Choson Exchange, we can notice that the faculty of finances of the Kim Il Sung University which is existing in North Korea since only 2010, is providing some bright students.

  1. Problems of the Choson Exchange:

The Choson Exchange is facing a large number of issues concerning the realization of its problems. However a big asset lying on their hands is the fact, that the management team of this organization is still the same since a few years and believes in the future of the project. Therefore these proactive people (I think especially to Andray Abrahamian and Geoffrey See – other cannot be omitted) will be able to cope with this challenge especially taking in account the harsh reality of North Korea.

Considering education institutions, Choson Exchange members noticed that foreign books, research journals are not used by academics and scholars[1].  Some foreign journals are available, however there are or old, either not actual. Due to a lack of funds, North-Koreans libraries are accepting foreign donations (in terms of books).

There is also a lack of transparence concerning the information. Concerning the Curriculum of some professors, Choson Exchange had no access to this kind of information. Professors and scholars are publishing, however mainly on internal economical education publications[2].  Some interesting related to the new North-Koreans economy can be found in these kinds of North-Koreans journals.

  1. Possible grounds for the development of the project

Choson exchange is also lacking some funds which may guarantee the viability of the project. This organization is functioning thanks to funds which are coming from various sources. Being not affiliated to the Choson Exchange, I strongly however encourage investing in the activities of the Choson Exchange.

Conclusion

While it is important to help the future North Korean elites, however, I believe it’s ever more important to pursue the formation of a new North Korean elite group. Those can be educated by organizations such as Choson Exchange. I also guess that Choson Exchange should develop its wonderful initiatives inside North Korea because potential elites such as intellectuals who were educated in North Korea know well about the reality of the country, but they face a lot of obstacles in learning modern knowledge. It is an important issue because North-Koreans higher-education reforms will affect not only the future of North-Koreans elites but also the future of the rest of the country and of the society who will get a profit of the situation.

Keywords: North Korea, Education, Reunification, Nation-Building, Trust, Cooperation, China, South Korea, Choson Exchange, Banking Institutions, Geoffrey See, Andray Abrahamian, Daesong Bank, JVIC, Choe Thae Bok, Elites, Kim family

Nicolas Levi

Nicolas Levi is a researcher at the Polish Academy of Sciences and an analyst on Korean Issues at the Poland Asia Research Center (www.polska-azja.pl). Holding a PhD regarding the North-Koreans leadership, his personal website (nkreports.wordpress.com) focuses on North Korea issues. Member of the Réseau Asie et Pacifique (a French association focused on Asian issues). He has overseen the publications of a wide range of analyses. Prestented to the public through media outlets including the British Association of Korean Studies, DailyNK.com, Foreign Policy, New Focus International, Newsweek Polska,…


[1] In 2007, I had the pleasure and the occasion to be in North Korea at the National Library. When I was presented some foreign journals and books, this literature was published in the 70’s and was originally coming from the Soviet Union. The North Korean libraries are receiving books from Foreign Institutions on a regular basis; however these books are being kept away and are only used by selected students and scholars. These “selected students” are generally, but not always, directly connected to the top North-Koreans leadership.

[2]According to Dr Curtis Melvin (nkeconomicwatch.com) “Thompson Reuters, a rating agency of scientific findings, announced NK has published 187 papers in reputable science journals between 2000 and 2012. Reviewing the publication history, from 2000 to 2006 NK scientists annually published articles abroad totaling in the single digits–except in 2004. However, Reuters reports that since 2007 that the annual average has increased to 28 publications per year. Of the publications in these foreign journals, 77.5% (or 145) of the publications were joint-research with foreign researchers. Of these joint-research projects, 61.4% (or 89) publications were with the Chinese. This is followed by Germans (27 publications), Australians (9 publications), South Korean (8 publications), American (7 publications) and Japan (5 publications). The reporting agency claims that the reason why so few NK research was published in international academic journals is that NK lack the appropriate English (communication or writing; it’s not specific) skills.” This text was published in http://www.nkeconwatch.com on the 25th May 2012. North-Koreans scholars should be also encouraged to publish abroad via foreign scholars. I’m actually trying to run this kind of projects.