Panmunjom: North Korean officers arrive to inspect a coffin containing the body of a North Korean soldier who was found dead in August in South Korea’s Imjin River. The soldier was allegedly swept away by a flood. | Photo: Yonhap
According to ruling party SK lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun, 31 top officials from Party and state agencies have been removed from their posts since Sept 28, 2010, when KJU emerged publicly. “KJU has been using the pretext of corruption or negative attitude to remove those high-ranking officials who are either becoming obstacles to his seizure of power, whose results are poor or who have expressed their dissatisfaction.” The list of removed officials reportedly includes 14 removed in the ten months to Oct. 2012, with the most recent being Minister of Sport Park Myung-cheol, whose dismissal was confirmed indirectly through a KCNA report on Oct. 17th.
The recent news of the replacement of three NK cabinet members is generating interest in analytical circles. Some speculate that the replacements may be due to the need to replace KJI-era ministers with KJU loyalists while others believe it could be the result of policy friction.
Japan’s Kyodo News reports that WPK Departments No. 38 and No. 39 have been disbanded. Department No. 38 was used to “gather funds through foreign currency earning units that were then used as slush funds in the operation of the patronage network that buttressed KJI’s power” and Department No. 39 was responsible for illegal trade in weapons and drugs on behalf of the NKorean regime.
According to Daily NK sources NK has issued a nationwide defense alert and has embarked on three days of anti-aircraft training and evacuation drills. Such anti-aircraft drills are common but are traditionally held in Sept or Nov.
In light of recent events where a NKorean soldier shot and killed two of his superiors before escaping across the DMZ, political commissars are reportedly conducting face-to-face meetings with soldiers to inform them of the dangers of losing ideological strength and to explain that the soldier involved in the shooting betrayed his country due to “ideological impurities arriving from SK”.
NK has begun to boldly promote new tour packages to try and draw tourists from Taiwan, the Philippines and parts of Southeast Asia. However, Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry has cautioned against the tours, warning citizens that Taiwan does not have a diplomatic relationship with NK.
ECONOMY & FOOD SECURITY
The People’s Daily reported that NK held a cabinet meeting to discuss economic issues, including third-quarter economic performance and fourth quarter targets.
Management lectures are reportedly being given to enterprise managers in and around Pyongyang. This may indicate that the 6.28 ‘reforms’, subtitled ‘on the establishing of a new economic management system in our own style’ is still being considered for implementation.
A group of NKorean women employed as performers at China’s Long Wish Hotel, frequented by tourists and big corporate clients, are reportedly daughters of high-ranking NKorean officials. A large portion of their earnings reportedly goes to the NKorean regime.
The WPK Agriculture Secretary allegedly told KJU during meetings convened to discuss the implementation of the 6.28 ‘reforms’ that “Agricultural system improvements will be impossible to implement effectively if food distribution for farm workers is not guaranteed.” However, KJU reportedly ignored the assessments and believes that agricultural reform only needs a change in the distribution system.
The MOU granted permission for three small aid groups to send 200m KRW (182,000 USD) worth of food, nutritional supplements, and other aid goods to nurseries and hospitals in NK.
At a press conference by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay described the human rights situation in NK and also said that the DPRK govt has not accepted a technical assistance offer which includes proposals to help review NK’s Criminal Code and Criminal Procedures Code to help bring NK in line with international obligations.
HRNK has released satellite images and an analysis of changes at Camp 22, which last month were reported as having been disbanded by RFA and Daily NK. They note the razing of buildings thought to be detention and interrogation facilities but conclude that it can not be concluded at this time whether the camp remains operational.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
SKorean authorities tried to stop HR activists from sending balloons carrying anti-Kim regime leaflets north across the DMZ following threats from NK that the KPA would open fire. But the activists defied authorities by moving the launch site and went ahead with launching the balloons. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei stated that “China expects related parties to remain calm and restrained, not to take provocative or radical actions and jointly safeguard the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula”. A (Chinese) Global Times editorial also warned SK to avoid provocations such as leaflet launches, saying “Seoul may think it is capable of uniting the South with the North on its own. This is incorrect.” Bruce Walker’s take on these ‘humanitarian’ balloons and Evan Ramstad tackles the question, “Why do balloon activists warn NK?”
LMB recently visited Yeonpyeong Island to boost the military’s defense posture after the undetected NKorean soldier defection embarrasment. The trip came less than a week before the second anniversary of NK’s shelling of the island.
After SK’s election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, SK’s Foreign Minister stated that SK’s UNSC membership “will bolster deterrence against NK, now that [SK] can directly discuss its provocations at the council”. FM Kim also called on NK to abandon their military first policy.
The USG’s Glynn Davies said that Myanmar had made a “strategic decision to fundamentally alter their relationship with the DPRK and to ultimately end [military] relationships with NK”. However the long relationship between the two countries will likely take some time and effort to change.
In response to NK’s claims that it would not engage in denuclearization, a US State Dept official said that “the position of the US with respect to NK has not changed” and that the international community “will never accept NK as a nuclear weapons power”, adding that the US will “continue to hold [NK] to its denuclearization commitments and obligations”.
After paying their last respects to Cambodia’s late former King Norodom Shihanouk, Vice Chairman of the Presidium of NK’s SPA Yang Hyong-sop met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Myanmar’s Vice President Sai Mauk Kham to express condolences.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
Lankov writes about the unlikelihood of justice being served in a post-Kim regime future, even in the case of Seoul-led reunification: “In actual history, justice is a rare commodity, for every case of its triumph (and such triumphs are usually overstated), one can easily find many cases when collaboration with rather disgusting forces has paid off handsomely ― both for the collaborators themselves and their children”.
Peter Ward on how the current elite could “ensure slow political change” vis-à-vis potential economic reforms and development.
Jim Hoare in the Global Times on Chinese involvement in NK’s economic development: “Chinese economic activity is seen as inevitably government-inspired and with a nefarious purpose. Nevertheless, the reality is that Chinese companies have found in North Korea a field with relatively little competition thanks to the policies of the South Korean and Japanese governments and UN sanctions.“
KJI’s grandson, Kim Han-sol, sat down with former Finnish Defense Minister Elisabeth Rehn to discuss his life and his family. However this should not be seen as a message from PY, opines Chris Green in this piece.