North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Setting Up the Mosquito Nets in Rason & KJI China Trip

Rim Kyong-man, former Minister of Foreign Trade

Choson Ilbo, citing an anonymous source, reports that former Minister of Foreign Trade Rim Kyong-man is now the leading official in Rason, the one responsible for drawing the mosquito net around the Special Administrative Region.  The Rajin-Sonbong area’s administrative rules are reported to be recently revised to accommodate gestating infrastructure and trade deals with Russia and China.  If the report of Mr. Rim’s appointment is accurate, he would replace Rason’s longtime KWP Chief Secretary Kim Hyon-chu.  Kim Hyon-chu was seen escorting KJI around Rason in mid-December 2009.

Rason is likely to become the main DPRK city connected to the Tumen River Area Development Project.  A report by Seima Oki in Yomiuri Shimbun tied a possible KJI China trip, as well as the recent Kim Yong-il tour, into the the Tumen River project:

North Korea is intent on securing a huge amount of economic aid from China by General Secretary Kim Jong Il’s visit to China after mid-March. Since this January, North Korea has kept itself busy with attracting foreign capital and obtaining economic assistance, and this indicates that the failure of the revaluation of its currency has had a considerably negative impact on the North Korean economy. A key question will be whether China can find a way to resume the six-party talks by taking advantage of North Korea’s difficult situation.

Workers Party of Korea  Central Committee’s International Department Director Kim Yo’ng-il visited Tianjin; Shenyang, Liaoning province; and Changchun, Jilin province last month to hold talks with local government leaders. According to Chinese media reports, in his meeting with Sun Zhengcai, secretary of the Jilin CPC provincial committee, Kim Yo’ng-il agreed to increase cooperation in developing the Tumen River (Tumenjiang in Chinese) areas, and also discuss PRC-DPRK economic cooperation in his meetings with other provincial leaders. Kim Yo’ng-il’s visit is seen as North Korea’s attempt to sound out China on its aid projects that China might promise to provide when General Secretary Kim visits China.

Meanwhile, Intelligence Online, claims in a brief dispatch that Colonel General Ri Pyong-sam, director of the Ministry of Public Security’s Political Bureau, “is currently in charge of organizing North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s visit to China this Spring.”

An affiliate of 38 North