Competition amongst the most powerful organizations in North Korea to display extreme loyalty to Kim Jong Eun is already beginning, the start of a long battle to gain the trust of the new leader.
A source within North Korea told The Daily NK on Tuesday that the National Security Agency (NSA) has already sent a letter to the Party asking to be the first to receive a portrait of “the people’s supreme leader Kim Jong Eun”, and suggesting that the request be granted in January to coincide with Kim’s birthday.
“In doing so the NSA is proving its loyalty to Comrade Kim Jong Eun,” the source explained. “It’s the same as the expressions of loyalty that were shown to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, but here it is about flattery.”
Getting one’s department into the North Korean leadership’s good books is seen as a real advantage in the current climate. As the source put it, “The NSA has managed to get in before the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces and the People’s Safety Ministry, at a time when everybody is flat out with events to mourn Kim Jong Il.”
Woo Dong Cheuk, the vice-director of the NSA and a rising star in the Workers’ Party since being elevated to the National Defense Commission in 2009, is believed to be behind the letter.
According to inside sources and defectors, the NSA was also first past the post in 1974 when Kim Jong Il was officially announced as successor, becoming the first agency to report to the Party and hang a portrait of Kim Jong Il.
6 years later, in October 1980, Kim Jong Il was named head of the Politburo at the 6th Party Congress, after which his portrait began to be widely distributed to government agencies, industry and homes.
Based on this history, it may be possible to estimate the speed of efforts to distribute portraits of Kim Jong Eun, depending on the response given to the NSA. Considering the transferral of power to Kim Jong Eun is taking place at a rapid rate and that glorification of the new leader is equally vivacious, it would be reasonable to conclude that official portraits of Kim Jong Eun may also be distributed throughout the country sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, Defense Security Command is also believed to be rushing to get involved in the loyalty contest. Along with the NSA and Escort Command, this is regarded as one of the core controllers of North Korean society.
The Command’s first steps into the loyalty contest came on December 21st when it received approval to source the wreaths required for mourning events from China. Although customs at the Sino-North Korean border are handled by the NSA, jurisdictionally they belong to the Command, leading some experts to wonder whether this explains the DSC’s attempt to get in first.
Although it will inevitably be highly secretive, the loyalty contest is expected to become even fiercer as the various government agencies jockey for top position in the new national order.