A Party reshuffle covering several major positions including chief secretaries of provincial committees of the Party has occurred, according to sources and the North Korean media.
The significance of the move is primarily as sign of the ongoing reorganization of the North Korean leadership in advance the Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference, which is set to start on Tuesday.
Reporting on a ceremony held to commemorate the completion of the People’s Study Hall of North Hwanghae Province, Chosun Central TV on the 25 named Park Tae Deuk as the Chief Secretary of the Province, instead of Choi Ryong Hae, the former incumbent.
According to Daily NK sources, the reshuffling of the cadres pack didn’t stop there.
One such source reported, “The Chief Secretary of North Pyongan Province, Kim Pyong Hae, is in Pyongyang now, waiting to be assigned, and the Organizing Secretary of the Province has moved across to the same position in Kangwon Province.”
“From what I hear, not only Kim Pyong Hae but also a considerable number of other secretaries in other provinces have been or will be replaced,” the source added, noting that some of the positional changes have yet to appear in the North Korean media.
It is possible that some of the reassignments will be into the Secretariat of the Central Committee, but news of that will only emerge later. As the source explained, “The appointment of directors of the Secretariat is officially confirmed through meetings of the Secretariat. Therefore, there is no information available on that.”
The authorities have already called a number of provincial committee cadres to work in Pyongyang this year. Via the Supreme People’s Assembly session in July, Kim Rak Hee, the former Chief Secretary of South Hwanghae Province, and Lee Tae Nam, former Chief Secretary of South Pyongan Province, were made vice premiers of the Cabinet, while, during June and July, Hong Seuk Hyeong and Tae Jong Su, the former chief secretaries of North and South Hamkyung provinces, were appointed to the Central Committee of the Party.
It is widely assumed that the emerging leadership will be formalized during this week’s Delegates’ Conference, and accordingly the authorities are reorganizing from provincial level up in advance. Maneuvering these comparatively young figures, most of whom are in their 60s, into the core of the leadership will assist the successor, Kim Jong Eun, and ease aside much of the current, ageing leadership.
Kim Pyong Hae was promoted to Chief Secretary of North Pyongan Province from Organizing Secretary in 1997, and held the position for 13 years. He took the position by elbowing aside Kim Hak Bong, his predecessor, and thereafter became known as a brown nose and a schemer. However, while holding the position for 13 years, he earned Kim Jong Il’s trust as he accompanied the leader on a number of onsite inspections.
Both Kim and Choi Ryong Hae accompanied Kim Jong Il on his most recent visit to China, in late August.