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I recently uploaded articles related to the North Korean leadership(Reproduction of elites in North Korea). Meanwhile, you may find also an article related to the Chinese Minority in Paris, Changes in the North Korean economy, and Changes over the Korean Peninsula)

Kang Sok Ju (1939-2016), a former deputy prime minister, passed away

Kang Sok Ju, a former deputy prime minister of North Korea (his biogram is available there) passe away on the 20th of May 2016. He was a diplomat in Paris for a while, having majored in French from the University of International Affairs in Pyongyang.

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Analyse des personnalités nord-coréennes présentes aux festivités des 70 ans du Parti du Travail Coréen

N’ayant pas fait parti des convives du 70ème  anniversaire de la formation du Parti du Travail Coréen (le Parti Communiste nord-coréen), j’ai du me contenter de regarder les 2 heures 171 minutes des festivités via la télévision russe.

En ce 10 octobre 2015, Le temps était radieux à Pyongyang. De nombreuses délégations étrangères qui ont du financer partiellement leur séjour en Corée du Nord ont du être surprises par l’aspect symbolique des cérémonies. Cependant en observant l’événement, l’observateur avertit a put noter la présence de revenants du Parti du Travail Coréen (le Parti Communiste nord-coréen) et de l’Armée Populaire de Corée.

Par souci de clarté, definissons le concept de revenant. De manière régulière, les médias (y compris moi-même) nous informent de la « disparition » d’élites nord-coréennes. Ces médias commettent une erreur « fatale » qui a pour origine une incompréhension partielle de la nature du régime nord-coréen. Sans en revenir aux détails, il existe en Corée du Nord un système de « rotation d’élites » qui fait que les élites nord-coréennes changent de postes politiques de manière régulière afin que celles-ci ne puissent créer de factions au sein de l’organisation principales à laquelle ceux-ci sont attachés. C’est pourquoi, de manière régulière, les « valets » de Kim Jong-eun disparaissent de la scène politique et réapparraissent quelques mois ou années plus tard. Le dernier disparu réapparu est Ma Won-chun (j’avais prédis dans le passé que celui-ci allait revenir sur les devants de la scène politique nord-coréenne).

Certaines de ces élites qui disparaissent héritent soit de fonctions symboliques (comme Ri Yong-mu, Kim Yong-ju), soit de fonctions importantes mais de second degré (comme Kim Jong-gak, l’ancien directeur du bureau politique de l’armée devenu recteur de l’Académie Militaire Kim Il-sung), soit des fonctions importantes mais cachées (par exemple dans des sociétés de commerce international, dans des départements du PTC). Quelle conclusion peut-on tirer ? Nous pouvons donc en déduire que les cérémonies officielles constituent un moment idéal pour voir si ces élites sont revenus dans le cercle des plus proches de Kim Jong-eun. Ajoutons à cela que l’origine de cette rotation des postes (que j’ai décris de manière plus approfondi dans un texte de ma plume pour le site anglophone sinonk.com) est soviétique et est appliqué depuis la formation du système politique en Union Soviétique.

Les festivités du 70ème anniversaire du PTC ont donc été un moment important pour déterminer les retours éventuels de certaines élites. On a pu y observer des retours surprenants comme le montre l’analyse en image suivante.

Photographies et commentaires

Hwang Pyong-so (1), Kim Jong-eun (2), Liu Yushan (3), Kim Ki-nam (4), Choe Ryong-hae (5), Choe Thae-bok (6), Kim Yang-gon (7), Pak Pong-ju (8), O Su-yong (9), Kim Pyong-phae (10)
Hwang Pyong-so (1), Kim Jong-eun (2), Liu Yushan (3), Kim Ki-nam (4), Choe Ryong-hae (5), Choe Thae-bok (6), Kim Yang-gon (7), Pak Pong-ju (8), O Su-yong (9), Kim Pyong-phae (10)
Kim Jong-gak
Kim Jong-gak (1), Ri Pyong-sam (2), Ri Myong-su (3). Certains croyaient Kim Jong-gak pour mort.
Kim Yo-jong
Kim Yo-jong (en vert). La soeur cadette de Kim Jong-eun
Kim Yong-chol
Kim Yong-chol, responsable du bureau de la reconnaissance de l’APC. Responsable de l’attaque de Cheonan. Un dur de l’APC.

Conclusions choisies

  • A droite de Kim Jong-eun on a pu symboliquement remarquer la présence du Secrétaire du Département de la Propagande du Parti Communiste chinois Liu Yushan. Ceci est purement symbolique. Les relations entre les deux pays sont exécrables et « grosso modo » se limitent aux investissements de sociétés privées chinoises en Coré du Nord.
  • Pas de russes aux côtés de Kim Jong-eun. Pour une raison très simple. Kim Jong-eun (et ses conseillers) voulait recadre les relations entre la Corée du Nord et la Russie et les mettant au second plan.
  • On peut penser qu’un changement de premier ministre en Corée aura lieu, Pak Pong-ju semble être très affaibli. De nombreuses personnalités nord-coréennes souffrent de divers troubles de santé. Par exemple Kang Sok-ju (le vice ministre des affaires étrangères, un des plus proches de Kim Jong-eun) souffre d’un cancer. D’autres anciennes élites nord-coréennes semblent également souffrir (par exemple Kim Ki-nam né en 1929) ou Choe Thae-bok (né en 1930). Le seul qui semble maintenir la route est Kim Yang-gon (responsable des relations avec la Corée du Sud), Hwang Pyong-so (un pantin politique directeur du Bureau Politique de l’APC – à noter celui-ci porte soit des lentilles soit s’est fait opérer des yeux, depuis fort longtemps il ne porte plus de lunettes – « est-ce un signe de modernité » ?) ainsi que Choe Ryong-hae (maréchal de l’APC).
  • Il y’a de nombreux absents invisibles à l’ecran (comme O Il-jong, que j’attendais proche de Kim Jong-eun, comme Ma Won-chun l’architecte de Kim Jong-eun,…).

Pour une analyse approfondie de ces festivités, contacter moi via nicolas_levi@yahoo.fr

Un vétéran de la politique nord-coréenne en Europe…et donc ?

Selon des médias sud-coréens, Kang Sok-ju (un ancien négociateur nord-coréen qui travaillait dans le cadre des pour-parlers nucléaires) serait en visite en   Gardez cependant en mémoire que très souvent se déplacent en Europe des politiciens nord-coréens de haut rang. Les médias ne sont pas informés néammoins ce type de visite a lieu de manière régulière, l’année dernière, Kung Sok-un (vice ministre des affaires étrangères de la RPDC) s’est rendu pendant 17 jours en Europe (notamment en Espagne et en Hollande). Jang Sung-thaek et Ri Chol se rendaient également souvent en Europe. La diplomatie ne se joue pas uniquement lors de ces visites.

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Some left but some stay: a quick review of the election to the SPA

Analyzing the list of people who were chosen at the new SPA (Supreme People Assembly of North Korea) election, we can notice that as usually the same people were chosen as in previous elections except some little changes. It would be a great challenge to analyze each person chosen to the SPA, therefore I would like to provide some information concerning only a minor part of these people.

The Jang dream team

Some people associated to Jang Sung Thaek (the uncle of Kim Jong Eun who was executed in December 2013) were chosen to the SPA session including:

Ri Chol – the former tutor of Kim Jong Eun – who was supposedly dead…according to South Korean newspapers.

Ji Jae Ryong – the DPRK ambassador to China- was also chosen. Ji Jae Ryong is considered as a former friend of Jang Sung Thaek. Jang Sung Thaek was responsible for his nomination as an ambassador of the DPRK to the former Yugoslavia in the 80’s.

Ri Kwang Gun – a NK technocrat who worked in Germany and Bangladesh – was also reelected. He was responsible for some of the business of the Jang family. Maybe some of them had betrayed Jang ? That’s also a possibility which may explain that they are still alive (I personally do believe that the reality is more complicated).

Interestingly Mun Kyong Dok (the head of the KWP in Pyongyang and a jovial friend of Jang Sung Thaek) was not elected.

Other nominations

Long-term associates of Kim Jong Il were reelected. This was done in order to maintain the Pact of Stability between Kim Jong Eun and the DPRK leadership. Among them we can quote:

Ri Ul Sol, Yang Hong Sop,  Jo Yon Jun, O Kuk Ryol, Kim Yong Ju (Kim Jong Eun uncle and Kim Il Sung brother), Kim Kyok Shik, Ju Kyu Jang, Kim Yong Dae, Kim Yong Nam, Kang Sok Ju, Ro Tu Chol, Pyong In Son, Choe Pu Il, Pak Pong Ju, Choe Hwi, Ma Won Chun, Jon Yon Jon, Kim Kye Kwan, An Kum Chol, Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Yong Chun, Sim Chol Ho, O Il Jong, Hwang Pyong So, Ri Kil Song (the former procurator of the DPRK, a 90 years old politician), Kim Wan Su, Kim Ki Nam, Pak Ui Chun, O Kum Chol, Thae Jong Su, O Su Yong (one of my favorite politician in terms of influence over the DPRK)…and many others

Own conclusions

The family of Kim Jong Eun is not fully visible in the list of SPA delegates. Kim Jong Eun was selected at the 111 place (is it not sweet ?), Kim Jong Nam, an enemy of Kim Jong Eun and a half-brother of the leader, was not chosen. He’s supposedly under the protection of the Chinese police. How long ? We do not know.

Foire Internationale à Pyongyang

La foire bi-annuelle de Pyongyang a eu lieu en fin septembre 2013. Lors de celle-ci furent présentes des sociétés venat de Chine, Russie, Allemagne, Malaisie, Mongolie et bien entendu de Corée du Nord. Ont pu etre remarqué lors de ces foires les personnes de Pak Pong Ju, premier minister nord-coréen, Kang Sok Ju, vice premier ministre, Ri Ryong Nam et Ri Chol. Tous deux cherchent à attirer des investisseurs en Corée du Nord. Ils sont tout particuliérement liés à des mouvances chinoises. Plus de 57 000 produits étaient présentés lors de cette foire.

RRYKSJ

Entourés de rouge de gauche à droite, Ri Ryong Nam et Kang Sok Ju lors de l’inauguration de cette foire

Les élites nord-coréennes de la première génération

Ci contre ma derniére publication pour le site „New Focus International”, un site internet géré par des réfugiés nord-coréens. Le texte concerne la première génération de leaders nord-coréens. Il est disponible icileaders

Des erreurs de jugement concernant le leadership nord-coréen ?

Le site nkleadershipwatch.com qui est géré par mon collègue Michael Madden présente de manière très intéressante les élites nord-coréennes. Nous y avons un aperçu tres complet des élites de ce pays. Observer les photographies constitue un premier pas pour analyser les élites nord-coréennes. Il ne faut cependant pas oublier qu’il existe de nombreuses élites nord-coréennes puissantes que l’on ne voit pas a l’avant de la scène. Ce sont en général des personnes plus jeunes qui dirigent des organisations cruciales de la Corée du Nord. La futur Corée du Nord semblera ainsi être gérée par ces personnes et non par les élites que nous voyons le plus souvent dans les medias nord-coréens.

En effet on observant les élites nord-coréennes on remarque que ce sont toujours les mêmes personnes qui apparaissent. Il faut souligner que pas uniquement elles gèrent la Corée du Nord mais également leurs familles. Les familles les plus importantes en Corée du Nord sont celles de Kim Jong Eun, O Kuk Ryol (un militaire nord-coréen), Ri Jae Il (un officier de la propagande nord-coréenne), Kang Sok Ju (vice premier ministre nord-coréen). Comme par hasard ceux-ci sont tous liés à la famille des Kims (par mariages). Il est difficile d’obtenir les noms de ces nouvelles élites qui gèrent réellement la Corée du Nord. Un exemple de « nouvelle élite » nord-coréenne est la jeune personne (à gauche encadré sur la photographie ci-contre) qui officie au centre de liaison de Pan Mun Jon.

200090-2

Source de la photographie : nkleadershipwatch.com
Pour plus d’informations à ce sujet je vous conseille les lignes suivantes :

A Big Day for the Elite Clans

Entering 2012, Daily NK has been working harder than ever to bring new voices to discussion of the Korean Peninsula’s future, and as part of this effort is pleased to be able to publish a new guest column by Nicolas Levi, a Polish analyst working with the Poland Asia Research Center.

Tomorrow, the 4th Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference will take place in Pyongyang. The main event may be the 15th, the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, but for younger politicians from the main ruling clans, it is this chance to move up the North Korean hierarchy that really matters.

The family was and still is the basic component of social life in Korea, and its perpetuation is intrinsic to patriarchal Confucianism. In a Confucian patriarchal family, the family is an entity more valuable than its individual members. The family group is also inseparably identified with the clan. In the time of the Three Kingdoms (Koguryo, Baekje and Shilla), each of the three had rigid social hierarchies in which a small, powerful ruling class was drawn from a small number of families.

Equally, to ensure the continuity of the North Korean system, key-members of certain clans hand favorable jobs to the children of former and current power players as a matter of course. This is done above all to continue the clan power structure. Elders play a pivotal role in oriental culture, and in North Korea they sit deep in the main organizational structures to act as patriarchs.

Therefore, while it is true that North Korea is still primarily in the hands of the Kim family, there are other families that also hold a large slice of the power, and this is something which is often forgotten.

Of course, the most important family is that of Kim Il Sung. People from this top clan are present in the leadership of a dizzying number of the most important political, economic and military structures. Kim Jong Eun, in spite of the fact that he’s only around 29, is already Supreme Commander of the Chosun People’s Army and a 4-star general. His cousin Kim Il Cheol was formerly Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, and another cousin, Ri Yong Mu, is a current member of the National Defense Commission (NDC), the supreme decision making body under the North Korean constitution. Ri Myeong Su is the Minister of People’s Safety (and a distant uncle of Kim Jong Eun’s); Kim Kyung Hee, Kim Jong Eun’s aunt, is at the head of the Party Light Industry Department and is a 4-star general (in spite of what is said, she does have a military background, especially in nuclear issues), while her husband Jang Song Taek is among the most powerful Party men of all.

Elsewhere, Kang Dok Su, a former media boss, is Kim Jong Eun’s cousin, Kang Yeong Seop (a distant uncle) is the leader of the Christian Association of North Korea, Ri Myeong San (a cousin) is the Vice Minister of Foreign Trade, and Yang Hyeong Sop (a cousin of Kim Jong Il’s) is at the top of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the North Korean parliament. Kim Il San, the former mayor of Kaesong, is also a cousin of Kim Jong Eun’s, while the family of Kim Ok, Kim Jong Il’s fourth and last wife, is also well placed at the head of educational institutions.

That’s not all; Kang Kwang Ju and Kim Yang Geon, also Kim Jong Il’s cousins, are directors of the United Front Department. Kim Seol Song, Kim Jong Eun’s half-sister, is high in the Party Munitions Industry Department.

But other families also have plenty of power. The second most important family is that of the aforementioned Jang Sung Taek. People who belong to this family occupy various positions in diverse fields. First, there is Jang himself. He’s vice chairman of the NDC and at the head of the Taepung Investment Bank. He’s also married to Kim Kyung Hee, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il, and deals with economic issues concerning the SEZ at Rasun. In the past he was director of the most important organization in North Korea: the Organization and Guidance Department. But it is not only Jang Sung Taek that wields power; his brothers, Jang Sung U, Jang Sung Hyeol, Jang Sung Kil, Jang Sung Seop and Jang Sung Ho, are all highly placed in the military, too.

There is also Kang Young Cheol, who since 2010 has been the DPRK Ambassador to Malaysia. He is a nephew of Jang Sung Taek’s (the late Jang Song U was his father). Jeon Yong Jin, the son-in-law of Jang Sung Taek, is the DPRK Ambassador to Cuba (he was previously Vice Chairman of the DPRK Foreign Culture Liaison Committee). Jeon Yong Jin’s father (the husband of Jang Song Ae, the sister of Jang Sung Taek) is Jeon Hee Jeong, a close advisor to the Kim family on foreign affairs. He notably advised Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and still does so for Kim Jong Eun. Jon Hee Jeong is the Director of the Foreign Affairs Department at the National Defense Commission and an officer in the Personal Secretariat of Kim Jong Eun. He’s a close associate of Jang Sung Taek’s.

Jang Sung Taek’s children also work (or, in one tragic case, worked) in the Party structure. His daughter Jang Kum Song studied abroad in France and worked for a time in the Organization and Guidance Department. However, because her parents wouldn’t accept her relationship with a foreigner, she committed suicide in Paris in 2006.

Another key family is that of Kim Yong Nam. Kim himself, 87 years old, is the country’s ceremonial head. His half-brother Kim Ki Nam is in the History Department of the Workers’ Party Central Committee. Kim Ki Nam’s wife is the director of the Academy of Social Sciences. His deceased brother Kim Du Nam was not only a member of the Party Central Military Commission but also President of Kumsusan Memorial Palace and chief of the Office of Military Officers in Kim Jong Il’s Personal Secretariat. This family has very close social and political ties to a number of the early pupils of Mangyongdae School, too, including General O Kuk Ryol. Kim Du Nam and O Kuk Ryol constituted in the past a huge faction in the North Korean military leadership.

The family of O Kuk Ryol deals mostly with military rather than economics issues. O Jum Song, his father, was a partisan with Kim Il Sung but was killed in the 30’s. One of his sons-in-law, So Ho Won, is the Vice Chairman of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. O Se Won, his son, is at the head of a foreign trading corporation. One daughter is a screenwriter for Korean Film Studio.

The family of Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho, the army Chief of Staff, is one of the newer big players. Ri Yong Ho is not only a close advisor to Kim Jong Eun but also a key military official who was on the funeral committee of Kim Jong Il. His father was Ri Pong Su, the North Korean Minister of Justice in the 60’s. Ri is also present in the structures of the most important military power bases. Ri Son Il, one of his sons, works as an official with a foreign trade company.

When taken in total, we can say that it is these families that really rule North Korea; in each case, they have members in all the main political, economical and military organizations. It is these families that we can expect to rally round Kim Jong Eun and continue the regime for the foreseeable future. Admittedly, in the longer term there is the possibility of a power struggle if any of them raise doubts about the current leadership of Kim Jong Eun, but for now all appears safe.

In my opinion, we need to see the North Korean regime as led in this way by a collective, or more precisely by a second and third generation collective leadership of families. This collective leadership is very different from the previous one, however, because in previous years only people belonging to the older generations worked at the top. The current deaths of elders is accelerating the movement of younger elite figures to key posts, and that is something to watch out for.

The older leaders are important, however, as in North Korea they play the role of ‘system guardians’. This means they surround and protect the younger generation. Such alliances are complicated by questions of leadership stability; nevertheless, I strongly hold the view that these major families will reinforce their presence in the main institutions and business entities going forward. These people are in multiple roles already and will continue to be given new ones. The previously mentioned Ri Son Il, Kim Seol Song, Kang Young Chol and Jang Kim Song may well be nominated to the SPA. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kim Jong Eun’s sister, Kim Yeo Jung, play a role in the next SPA session.

The real key question, however, is this; will the leadership be able to function via the existence of this two-three generation family structure, and what capacity for cooperation will there be between the younger elite figures after the death of the last of the first generation leaders?