On January 7th, a North Korean high-level source reported, “In past several months we have seen specific steps being taken to increase Kim Jong-un’s control the North Korean army. The power has being shifting from the Party’s political staff to the army’s Security Ministry, which is under Kim Jong-un’s control.
Our source explained, “The authority over personnel decisions of the North Korean army was transferred from the Political Bureau to the Security Ministry, giving Kim Jong-un greater control of the army. This is a strategic move to free Kim Jong-un and weaken the Political Bureau at the same time. This is one more step in transferring power to Kim Jong-un.
He also added, “Kim Jong-un is taking steps to seize control of the army, because he considers the army a genuine threat to the stabilization of the 3rd generation succession of power.
“On January 3rd Kim Jong-un ordered Security Ministry agents to summarily deal with any conduct that is‘against the North Korean leadership system,’” said the source. He gave this order as the Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission. In other words, the army’s Security Ministry has now claimed authority over the Party’s Political Bureau. This is a reversal of the past power structure in North Korea.
Previously, Security Ministry agents had the authority to monitor and investigate army officials, but did not have the authority to exert punishment on political commissars or political instructors. Even with conclusive evidence. They were limited to reporting the person to a higher security authority and waiting for the Party’s Executive Commission’s action. However, Kim Jong-un’s latest order gives agents of the Security Ministry the power to take punitive action against political staff members.
The source noted, “In mid 90’s similar authority was given to Defense Security Command when it became an independent office. Previously it was a security service, an affiliate office of the Political Bureau.” The Defense Security Command is now called the Security Ministry. “It is important to note, however,” said the source, “This is the first time Security Ministry agents are given power over political commissars. Now, they have the summary jurisdiction over political commissars. Political commissars have been considered the most powerful because of their control over Security Ministry and military personnel decisions.”
The source also reports that Kim Jong-un started taking this kind of measure ever since late December, 2010, when he specially appointed Shin, a Security Ministry agent monitoring Kim Yong-choon (Political commissar and a member of Central Military Commission) to one of key executive position of Security Ministry when he was reported that Shin had investigated and exerted punishment on a certain executive of the Political Bureau.
The source said “Kim Jong-un saw punitive action taken by Shin against a key official of the Political Bureau for engaging in irregularities as an opportunity to push for power against Political Bureau. Kim Jong-un is taking an advantage of the current situation to put spurs on army’s Security Ministry”.
Translation by Ruth Kim Supervised by Young Cho and Sunny Kang
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