Jang Sung Taek Returned to Core of Power

Jung Kwon Ho  |  2008-11-10 17:29
Shenyang, China -- A Daily NK source from North Korea reports that Jang Sung Taek, the Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Party, was designated in mid-September as the First Vice-Director of the Guidance Department, which is the core apparatus and the lever of power that controls the Party and the Chosun (North Korea) Peoples Army.

The source from Pyongyang reported on the 9th that, Right after the September 9 Holiday, Jang Sung Taek became the First Vice-Director of the Guidance Department and started superintending operations and overseeing personnel management in the Party, the Army and the Security Agency. The fact of his designation as the First Vice-Director has not yet been announced, but high officials from the Party in Pyongyang and the General Political Bureau of the Peoples Army, which is the political arm of the Army, overtly say that everything is now entirely in his hands.

The source said that, Jang is so trusted that the General (Kim Jong Il) says, the person who is the most loyal to my instructions is Director Jang. Jang Sung Taek has already sent away those out of favor with him in order to form his own power structure.

Kim Jong Ils brother-in-law, Jang Sung Taek has caught peoples eyes as the most prominent figure who could fill the power vacuum during Kims sickness. Since December of last year, Jang has been Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Central Committee of the Party and has been leading inspections and national security work.

If Kim Jong Il appointed Jang to the position of First Vice-Director of the Guidance Department, it means that authority operations, succession business and other national key jobs will be publicly led by him.

However, the North Korean authorities apparently still regard him officially as the Director of the Ministry of Administration of the Party; when the Chosun (North Korea) Central News Agency reported on the 6th the news that Kim Jong Il viewed a performance, it released Jang Sung Taeks position as Director of the Party.

Regarding the backdrop of Jang returning to the Guidance Department of the Party, the source predicted that, Doesnt it seem to be to control the Army by putting up Jang? This is because conflicts between the Army and Jang Sung Taek were serious, so Kim is likely to have wanted to set the struggle to rights by Jangs returning to a higher position than the Army.

Jang has been leading intrusive inspections over the border cities and the military corps since March. During this time, there have been various rumors: it was a way to deflate the military power, it was a counterstrike by the Party in Pyongyang, which had withered because of the Military-first Policy, and it was a Jangs revenge on the military that led Jangs purge in 2004.

Regarding the reaction of the authorities to Jangs rising, the source said that, People say that Jang Sung Taek is an ambitious person. This year is ending as usual, but there could be big changes next year.

The Guidance Department of the Workers Party is the core department of the Party, which leads the Kim Jong Il dictatorship and has the right to personnel management and inspection of all the organizations in North Korea. It leads and controls all organizational politics, in the Union of Agricultural Working People and the General Federation of Korean Trade Unions, let alone the Party itself.

This therefore implies that the Central Committee of the Party and General Political Bureau of the Peoples Army may be reorganized with the Jang Sung Taek-lines figures. Another First Vice-Director of the Guidance Department Lee Jeh Gang, who is a competitor for Jang in matters of the succession issue, will accordingly decline in influence.

Jangs rise from the ashes seems to be the most significant variable in the succession issue. The probability that the lineal succession will proceed to one of Kims sons is the highest, but the three sons each have obvious weaknesses. Therefore, Plan B seems to be to pick Jang Sung Taek, Kims brother-in-law, as a guardian for the time being.

Although Jang Sung Taek was appointed First Vice-Director, he will presumably serve Kim Jong Il as his Man Friday, who cannot lead the succession job by himself.

Regarding the evaluation of Jang by cadres and people, a source from Shinuiju said that, Due to the inspections in Shinuiju since the end of last year, trade between China and North Korea froze. These days, the rumor that the jangmadang is to be transformed into an agricultural market opening once in ten days circulating, so people bear a grievance against Jang Sung Taek.

Jang has carried out inspections over departments working to earn foreign currency and ordered the shooting of officials in charge of foreign currency activities and corrupt cadres several times.

In 2004, he lost his position of the First-Vice-Director of the Guidance Department of the Party due to his lifestyle, such as constructing a special villa as luxurious as Kim Jong Ils villas and holding parties.

In 2006, when he returned to the Party, people expected him to reform North Korea, but he has been showing a merciless attitude, monitoring strictly or conducting strong inspections.

After two years, he got back to the position of First Vice-Director of the Ministry of Capital Construction and entered the core of the elite by being appointed Director of the Ministry of Administration in December, in 2007.
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