North Korea’s Worker’s Party Calls Conference

North Korea has summoned a Chosun Workers’ Party delegates conference in early September, the first such event in 44 years.

Chosun Central News Agency (KCNA) reported the news today, quoting a decision of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Party whereby, “The Politburo of the Central Party summons a delegates conference of the Chosun Workers’ Party at the beginning of September, 2010 to elect the leading apparatus of the Workers’ Party and reflect new demands for the revolutionary development of the Party, which is facing critical changes in bringing about the strong and prosperous socialist state and Juche revolutionary achievements.”

To date, the Chosun Workers’ Party has held such delegates conferences twice since the founding of the Party; in 1958 and 1966. The regulations of the Party actually stipulate that the conference should be held once every five years in between sessions of the Party Congress in order to discuss and select the lines and policies of the Party, but this has not been done.

South Korean experts predict that the Chosun Workers’ Party, in the year of the 65th anniversary of its founding, is planning to publicize the succession from Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Eun and simultaneously reorganize the Party at the conference, just as Kim Jong Il himself came out of the shadows as Kim Il Sung’s successor during the Sixth (and last, to date) Party Congress of October, 1980.

In that conference, the Chosun Workers’ Party designated Kim Jong Il a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Central Committee, a secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee and a member of the Military Committee, thus formalizing his succession.

At the first Party delegates conference in 1958, the Party purged former Supreme People’s Assembly Chairman Kim Du Bong for being part of the “August Incident” and launched the Chollima Movement. In 1966, during the second such conference, the system of chairman and vice-chairman of the Central Committee of Party was abolished, to be replaced by the system of general secretary and secretary.

Complying with precedent, the apparatus of the Workers’ Party and its leading officials are likely to be reshuffled in September, most likely in order to set in place the Kim Jong Eun ruling core. There is also the possibility that Jang Sung Taek, who just became a vice chairman of the National Defense Commission during the last Supreme People’s Assembly session, will be elected to the Standing Committee of the Politburo.

Cheong Seong Chang, a North-South relations researcher at the Sejong Institute explained, “It may be that through this conference Kim Jong Eun’s succession is publicized across the country. This may be done by selecting Kim Jong Eun as a core official on the Central Committee or the Military Committee of the Party.”

He added, “There is one further possibility, that they may want to appoint Jang Sung Taek to the Standing Committee of the Politburo in order to bestow him with more authority. And, of course, military officials such as Kim Jeong Kak, the First-Vice-Director of the General Political Bureau of the Army, or Lee Young Ho, the Chief of the General Staff, could be elected to the Military Committee of the Central Committee of the Party.