Volume 2. Jang Song Thaek’s background and his estimated power
News and rumors about purge of Jang Song Thaek and change in the power structure of North Korea show no sign of slowing down. NKSIS feels responsibility to disclose the truth behind the purge of Jang Song Thaek. From now on, series of the analysis from Kim Jong Il’s Will and Kim Jong Un’s future (2012), which foretold the purge in 2012, will be made public via our website. The series are composed of three volumes and will be uploaded in order.
Jang Song Thaek was born into a common working class family on January 22, 1946 in Chunnae-goun, Kangwon-do. According to a source, Jang’s father was an intelligent person who had obtained a clerkship once under the Japanese rule. A brother’s of Jang’s father was known for his participation in the independence movement against Japanese imperialism in the 1940s. Different from Kim Il Sung’s affiliation, his stage was around the North Manchuria, and he had worked at Ministry of the People's Armed Forces in the 1960s.
From this network, Jang Song Thaek got into the Kim Il-sung University and met Kim Kyung Hui there and soon fell in love with her. When Kim Il Sung found it out, he tried to break the couple apart because Jang’s background did not satisfy him. However, Jang married to Kim Kyung Hui in 1972 under the auspices of Kim Il Sung and went to study abroad with his wife to Russia around 1969.
In the 1970s, Jang graduated from college and began his career as member of Economic Division of the central party (assistant director in the system at that time) and became the chief instructor of the Pyongyang Party Committee in 1976, held a position termed as Director of Party Member Registration Division at Organization and Guidance Department in 1978 before he old positions in Youth and Juvenile Work Department, Three revolutionary teams (first deputy director in 1985 and detector in 1987). By 1995 when Kim Il Sung died, and Kim Jong Il’s era began, Jang was promoted as a first deputy director in the Administration Division of the Organization and Guidance Department. Before he reached his 50s, Jang stood at the heart of power of North Korea where very few people were next to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
Organization and Guidance Department, in which Jang was, is the very core of the powerful organizations of the regime and has authority over human resources and right of censorship; thus, it is the most powerful organization in North Korea. It can be seen as if it has more power than a combination of the executive, the legislative and the judicial in a democratic society.
There is no question that Jang held the power as the closest person to Kim Jong Il for he was the director of the Organization and Guidance Department which handled the National Security Agency, the People’s Safety Agency, and the state organizations such as the judiciary bodies and the prosecutory authorities over all.
Also Jang Song Thaek’s eldest brother, Jang Song Yeop was a tutor to the sons and daughters of Kim Jong Il and worked at state-related education organizations for a long period. His second eldest brother Jang Song Woo is a quite influential figure in the North Korean army because he has made his career in army as Chasu (promoted in 2002) after serving in the Capital Defence Command, Third Corps (3-Goon-Dan), and People’s Defence Commission. His third eldest brother lieutenant Jang Sung Kil is a prominent figure in military politics who was a political commissar of Fifth Corps (5-Goon-Dan) and 820 Tank Corps. Also, his son-in-law Jeon Yong Jin is a midgut man in the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries who is a former vice-chairman of the Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries in the North Korean Embassy in Sweden.
With this respect, Jang Song Thaek is often called as “Chief Jang,” and those who are close to him “Chief Jang’s people” until now since the late 80s. That is the power he has in North Korea. Jang was once identified by the late Hwang (Mr. Hwang Jang Yeop) as “post-Kim Jong Il“ if Kim Jong Il would have met with an untimely death.
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