There have recently been reports of a number of meetings held by major Party sub-organizations for the purposes of reinforcing loyalty to Kim Jong Eun.
Starting with the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League in Pyongyang on July 12th, there has also been a meeting of top officials from the General Federation of Korean Trade Unions (17th), the Union of Agricultural Working People (18th) and the Union of Democratic Women (19th).
The four groups in question play a major role in handing down the directions of the Workers’ Party to the people and observing their activities. However, the famine of the 1990s weakened this system, something which Kim Jong Eun is now attempting to reconstruct as part of his plans for a Party-dominant regime.
“Having completed the succession via the April Party Delegates’ Conference and Supreme People’s Assembly, the North Korean authorities are following up by solidifying loyalty to strengthen oversight of the organizational substructure,” Prof. Yoo Ho Yeol of Korea University told Daily NK.
The groups are significant, with the vast majority of young and working age people being members of one or other. Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League has approximately 5 million members aged 14 to 35. It also runs the Chosun Children’s Union, which has around 3.5 million members aged 8 to 13. There are also 1.6 million members of the General Federation of Korean Trade Unions, 1.3 million members of the Union of Agricultural Working People and around 200,000 in the Union of Democratic Women.
Therefore, between them they can have an effect on the overall atmosphere of the country. After these kinds of loyalty meetings in Pyongyang, the organizations’ leaders pass on the ideas and education that are handed down.
Kang Ok Ran, who was formerly a member of the General Federation of Korean Trade Unions, explained, “In the morning we were asked to read Party policy, and through self-criticism sessions we vowed to live without stepping outside the bounds of Party policy. It is normal Party behavior to mobilize labor organizations to generate loyalty competitions.”
One-time farmer Seo Kyung Nam agreed, saying, “Union of Agricultural Working People cadres always talked about ‘Accepting the policy of the Party and being responsible for the nation’s rice.’ People are criticized if they don’t at least mimic putting effort into following Party policy, so people do pretend to.”