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WPK’s 8th Party Congress and the Change of Power Structure
2021-01-28 View : 175 LEE Ki-dong

WPK’s 8th Party Congress and the Change of Power Structure

   

 

LEE Ki-dong

Senior Research Fellow,

Institute for National Security Strategy

kdkee5@naver.com

   

 

Executive Summary

 

■​ (Resurrection of Secretary System) Revival of a system that is advantageous for strengthening the Party’s unified leadership system

- At the 7th Party Congress in 2016, the phrase “Eternal General Secretary” was deleted from the preface of the Party protocol which

  gave a prior notice of the revival, and confirmed that there is high compatibility between the reinforcement of the unified leadership

  and the secretary system.

- As Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, Kim Jong Un has no problem in controlling the Political Bureau. Also

  he aims to strengthen the accountability of the standing committee by formally dispersing authorities such as vesting the right to

  social processing, under the principle of collective guidance of the Political Bureau,

 

■​ (No presentation of the indigenous idea of guidance in the Kim Jong Un’s era) Maintaining ideological identity through harmony of

   succession and development

- While maintaining the Kim Il Sung-Kim and Jung Jong Ilism as the supreme platform, the people-first politics was changed to the

  basic politics instead of Songun politics.

- Although changes in leadership have been considered such as emphasizing the people-first politics ideology, they chose the harmony

  between the opportunity (promoting people’s support) and challenges (deriving visible economic performance) that people-first

  politics has.

 

■​ The ruling method of “Son-first, Gun-later (party first, military later),” radical generation change, establishment of Kim Jong Un’s

   interest department and forward stationing

- Military elites has reduced in the political bureau composition while the Party and economic elites make rapid strides.

- Compared to the 7th Party Congress, the whole political bureau (secretariat) vice-chairman (secretary) and ten out of twelve

  members of the Party Central Military Commission were replaced.

- Establishment of Kim Jong Un’s main interests, which are tightening the Party discipline (disciplinary research department), setting

  the five-year national economic development plan (economic policy office), strengthening party leadership on the military (military

  administration office), newly establishing social stability (legal affairs office) and arranging on the front

 

■​ (No presentation of new strategic route) Absence of alternatives other than the focused-concentration route

- Kim Jong Un emphasized “reinforcement and maintenance strategy” at the Party Congress consensus and suggested that existing

  strategies will be reinforced and overhauled. Meanwhile, the the Party Congress came with the conclusion thaa “socialist economic

  construction is the most essential revolutionary task for which we should focus and put all our energy,” and affirmed the willingness

  to continue the economy-concentrated route as a strategic path.

- Reinforcement of national defense power is defined as “collateral for economic construction” and “powerful means of securing

  diplomatic performance” and emphasized that it is an instrumental character of economy and diplomacy. Simultaneously, considering

  the unchanging external conditions and the uncertainty of the internal vision, it is implying a willingness to utilize the “different

  strategic position” realized by strengthening national defense power for external purposes.

 

■​ (Nothing new on the national economic development five-year plan) Choice and concentration reflecting resource scarcity and

   constraints

- Promoting practical business plan, such as emphasizing “things that can be done”

- It is just a listing of projects that have already been presented in an editorial of the Rodong Sinmun (North Korean Newspaper) after

  the Fifth Plenum of the 7th Central Committee, including the emphasis on “unified national leadership.”

 

■​ (Sticking to the U.S. confrontation strategy) Preparing a breakthrough by putting pressure on the U.S.

- The principle of “strong for strong, kindness for kindness” is merely a change in the existing expression of “conversation for

  conversation, confrontation for confrontation” principle, and an additional adjunct word “continuously” is used which contains the

  meaning of continuity.

- Introducing newly developed high-tech weapon system and releasing the SLBM can be seen as an aim for a “bluffing effect” to induce

  the U.S. policy to engage with North Korea.

 

 

This article is written based on the author’s personal opinions and does not reflect the views of the Sejong Institute.

Translator’s note: This is a third party's unofficial translation of the original paper which was written in Korean. All references should be made to the original paper.