North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Meeting of Party Representatives (Party Conference) to Be Held in September

North Korea has announced it will hold a meeting of Party Representatives (Party Conference) convened by the KWP Political Bureau (Politburo) in September.

The WPK founded by President Kim Il Sung and led by Kim Jong Il has steered the sacred Korean revolution to one victory after another in its annals for more than six decades, building a socialist power, independent in politics, self-supporting in economy and self-reliant in national defence, on this land and ushering in a new era of prosperity.
We are now faced with the sacred revolutionary tasks to develop the WPK, organizer and guide of all victories of the Korean people, into an eternal glorious party of Kim Il Sung [Kim Il-so’ng] and further increase its militant function and role to glorify the country as a great prosperous and powerful socialist nation.
The Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee decides to convene early in September, juche 99 (2010) a conference of the WPK for electing its highest leading body reflecting the new requirements of the WPK and the developing revolution in which decisive changes are taking place in the efforts to accomplish the revolutionary cause of juche, the cause of building a prosperous and powerful socialist nation.

The last meeting of Party Representatives occurred in October, 1966.  The meeting to be held in September will be the third (ever) Party Representatives meeting. This meeting ranks just below a Party Congress (the last one was held in October, 1980), and will be held one month before the country celebrates the 65th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party.   As the meeting will include the election of members of the Party’s power organs, it may be an indication of another phase in the hereditary succession campaign of Kim Jong Il’s youngest son, Kim Jong Un; such a meeting would be the opportunity to place Jong Un’s supporters in influential positions.

North Korea said Saturday it will hold a meeting of core party delegates in September for the first time in 44 years, a decision experts say could set the stage to transfer power from ailing leader Kim Jong-il to his youngest son.

The meeting, called by the Worker’s Party’s highest decision-making body, the Political Bureau, is the first of its kind to be held since 1966. Such a meeting is bound by party rules to convene every five years but has never been held since then. A party convention, which is more important than the delegates’ meeting, was also last held in 1980.

The upcoming session is “for electing its highest leading body reflecting the new requirements of the WPK (Workers’ Party of Korea),” the party’s Political Bureau said in an announcement, carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency.

Kim Jong Un’s road to succession runs through the Korean Workers’ Party, if KJI’s history is a reliable guide.  This Party Conference represents another phase of the succession, but may only be the prologue to a more definitive event further on.  One credential Kim Jong Un does not possess is membership in the Supreme People’s Assembly.  Kim Jong Il did not join the SPA until 1982, two years after the 6th Party Congress.  Until Kim Jong Un is elected to the SPA, he shall continue to lack the most basic, superficial, credential to hold any significant government power in North Korea.

A Party Conference (or meeting of Party Representatives) is an unusual forum.  Only two previous meetings have been held, and they are convened on a special call, even emergency, basis.  The primary reason a Party Conference is called is to amend the Party’s charter and by laws, as well as elect new full and candidate (alternate) members to the Political Bureau, Central Inspection Committee or to the KWP Central Committee.  At the 2nd Party Conference, for example, the KWP Central Military Committee (or KWP Military Affairs Comittee) was restored to enhance Party control over the North Korean military.

The 2nd Party Representatives’ meeting (Party Conference) in 1966 was essential to Kim Il Sung establishing his dictatorship, and facilitating hereditary succession within the regime.  The Party’s administration was altered.  The CC KWP Secretariat was created.   The Party’s chief executive became General Secretary, supported by a group of Party Secretaries responsible for managing the CC KWP’s subordinate bureaus.  Kim Il Sung’s youngest brother, Kim Yong Ju, director of the KWP Organization and Guidance Department, was elected the Party’s Secretary of Organization.  Jae-cheon Lim** writes of the opposition to Kim Yong Ju, which took the form of the Kapsan Group:

The problem with Kim Yong-ju as a candidate for succession was that his past career have proved insignificant. . .Kim Yong-ju had no involvement in national liberation activities.  Instead he was like any other person wandering around Manchuria during the Japanese colonial era.  Vice Premier Pak Kum-chol, who had taken control of the organizational affairs of the party reacted negatively to Kim Yong-ju’s emergence in the party. . .Pak was a founding member of the Kapsan Operations Committee and was directly involved in anti-Japanese activities.  Several other high-ranking officials supported Pak’s position. . .

The Kapsan group attempted to instate Pak Kum-chol…the group referred to [his] words as kyosi (instructions)…[the] chief of the Propaganda and Agitation Department commissioned a director to make a film whose main theme was Pak and his wife’s heroic behavior in the Kapsan Operation Committee…also rebuilt his birthplace.  Without the leader’s permission, such factional behavior was considered to be a challenge to Kim Il Sung’s authority…despite his warning the group did not appear to be heeding Kim Il Sung’s instructions and at the 15th Plenum of th 4th Central Committee in May, 1967, all of the Kapsan members were expelled from the party and sent to political camps

As soon as the Kapsan faction was removed from the Party, Kim Yong Ju introduced the 10 Principles of the Monolithic Ideological System, and eventually, official veneration of the Kim Family.  The KWP convened its 5th Party Congress in November, 1970 which reaffirmed KIS’ divine right of Suryong.

**Lim, Jae-cheon. Kim Jong Il’s Leadership of North Korea (Routledge, 2009) [World Cat link]

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