North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Possible New Third Floor Director

The man believed to be Jon Il-chun is first from left in this image from the 3 February KCTV broadcast on Kim Jong-il's tour of a fish factoryin Kumya County, South Hamgyong (Photo: KCNA/KCTV).

Here may a confirmable personnel change within the Central Party.  Korea Times reports that Kim Tong-un, chief executive of Office #39 (also known as the Third Floor), was replaced by by Jon Il-chun.  Kim Tong-un, 73 and a geologist by training, had

The man belived to be new Third Floor Director Jon Il-chun is third from left in this photo of Kim Jong-il's tour in Kumya County, South Hamgyong (Photo: KCNA/KCTV).

been director of the Third Floor since April 1994.  KT cites Mr. Kim’s recent appearance on an EU travel ban as the reason for his removal from the post.  The new Third Floor director, Mr. Jon, was reported as escorting Kim Jong-il a day or two ago at the Wonphyong Taehung Fishery Station, Kumya County, South Hamgyong.

North Korea has recently named Chon Il-chun, vice chief in charge of managing the safe of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his family, to head the office of the ruling Workers’ Party, Yonhap News reported Thursday.

Chon replaced Kim Dong-un who was put on a “blacklist” by the European Union last December, the report said, quoting sources in Seoul.

North Korea’s media reported Wednesday that Chon, a ranking official of the Workers’ Party, was among those who accompanied Kim Jong-il on his trip to a fishery office in South Hamgyeong Province.

The man believed to be Jon Il-chun had a seat at the main table during the first meeting of the new North Korean development bank on 20 January of this year.

The man believed to be Jon Il-chun is first from right in this image from a KCTV story annoucning the formation of a North Korean investment bank (Photo: KCTV)

As with Pak Nam-gi, the possible retirement/dismissal of Kim Tong-un seems more a matter of pretext (in this case, the EU travel ban) as against job performance.  These high level personnel movements are merely administrative planning to prepare for the post-KJI era in North Korea.

Personnel reassignments such as this (as well as last year’s Cabinet attrition) are one significant political indicator of crisis/contingency in North Korea.  However, in that regard, it seems that at present the Central Party is manuevering to prevent a devestating internal situation where they would have to mobilize large numbers of internal security units or, as the most desperate measure, making an emergency call to Beijing.


This article was written on 04 Feb 2010, and is filled under contingencies in DPRK, internal crisis, Kim Jong-il, KJI Personal Secretariat.

An affiliate of 38 North