North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Foreign Visits and an Under the Radar Cabinet Appointment

Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Sok-ju (far left), Dai Bingguo and Kim Jong-il.  Photo: Korea Central News Agency

Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Sok-ju (far left), Dai Bingguo and Kim Jong-il. Photo: Korea Central News Agency

On 18 September, the North Korean press reported a meeting between Kim Jong-il and PRC State Councilor Dai Bingguo, a surrogate for Chinese President Hu Jintao.  From photographs of the event, the meeting appeared to take place at the Paekhwawon Guest House located here ( in east Pyongyang.  This was Mr. Dai’s sixth official visit to the DPRK, and the sixth time Mr Dai has met or participated in meetings with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang or Beijing.

The DPRK gave Mr. Dai the treatment of a visiting head of state when he arrived in Pyongyang on (or around) September 15.   Mr. Dai attended an opera with nominal head of state Kim Yong-nam and placed a wreath at the DPRK-PRC Friendship Tower.   He also watched a performance of Arirang (the mass games).   The most notable member of Dai Bingguo’s travel party was Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei.  Vice Minister Wu was China’s representative at the defunct Six Party Talks.

Dai Bingguo’s visit culminated in his meeting with Kim Jong-il.  Present at the meeting was the DPRK’s senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs (and KJI’s  cousin) Kang Sok-ju.  Also present at the meeting, but not mentioned in the North Korean press accounts was Kim Yang-gon, department director of the CCKWP United Front Department and possibly a Councilor on the National Defense Commission (a position in which he served prior to his March 2007 appointment to the United Front Department).   It does not require any fantastic exercise of the imagination to infer the central topic of the day.  After Dai’s departure, word came that Kim Jong-il was willing to discuss the DPRK nuclear program in either a bi-lateral or multi-lateral context.

Dai Bingguo and his delegation were not the only “fraternal” group in Pyongyang last week.  Concurrent to Mr. Dai’s visit, a delegation from the Laos People’s Revolution Party arrived in Pyongyang.   The DPRK hosts and announces these meetings all of the time, but one of the North Korean participants was rather unique because of his affiliation.  Ru Tuk-nam is chair of the KWP Central Control (Auditing) Committee.  The Central Control Committee seldom appears in the North Korean press.  It is a Soviet-import (like a Politburo) tasked with regulation and discipline of members of the KWP.  Its last mention in available North Korean media was in 2007 when its chair, Pak Yong-sok passed away.  One can only assume Ru Tuk-nam (and the Central Control Commission was mentioned) participated in these events because the LPRP sent Asang Laoly who holds, among his many positions, the Chair of the CCLPRP Control Commission.

Perhaps,  the North Korean press thought with the news of these foreign visits, a a major Cabinet change would sail under the proverbial radar.  With news of Dai Bingguo’s meeting with Kim Jong-il came a brief announcement that Kim Wan-su was removed from his post as Minister of Finance.  Previous to his April 2009 appointment as Finance Minister, Kim Wan-su was President of the DPRK Central Bank.   The report in DailyNK cited the failure of the 150 Day Battle Campaign as the reason for Kim Wan-su’s removal from office.  Kim Wan-su’s replacement is Pak Su-gil, Chair of the North Hamgyong People’s Provinicial Committee.  Mr. Pak was also appointed as a Vice Premiere of the DPRK Cabinet.  No word on the fate of Kim Wan-su.  Although, it should be noted due to North Hamgyong Province’s geographic proximity, Pak Su-gil has many connections with China.

Dai Bingguo and PRC Delegation Visit

Laos People’s Revolutionary Party Visit

Kim Wan-su Fired


This article was written on 22 Sep 2009, and is filled under DPRK Cabinet, Korean Workers' Party (KWP), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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