North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Jang Song Taek Becomes NDC Vice Chairman, Choe Yong Rim Cabinet Premier

Jang Song-taek

At the 3rd session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly held 7 June 2010 (Monday), CC KWP Director of Administration Jang Song Taek was appointed a Vice Chairman to the country’s supreme power body, the National Defense Commission.  Meanwhile, former chief public prosecutor and current KWP chief in Pyongyang, Choe Yong Rim replaced Kim Yong Il as the country’s Premier.  Kim Jong Il attended Monday’s session, unlike the second session in April.  Mr. Jang’s appointment as an NDC Vice Chair occurred just under 14 months after his appointment as an NDC member in April 2009, at the 12th SPA’s opening session.  Jang Song Taek and his wife, Kim Kyong Hui (KJI’s sister) have been the most frequent members of KJI’s reported travel party (internally and in his his May trip to China) within the last seven (7) months.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il sits in the Mansudae assembly hall in Pyongyang yesterday during this year’s second Supreme People’s Assembly meeting. (Yonhap)

Choe Yong Rim is an alternate member of the CC KWP Political Bureau and former Chief Public Prosecutor.  He served on several occasions as one of the late DPRK President Kim Il Sung’s secretaries.  During the Korean (or Victorious Fatherland Liberation) War, Mr. Choe was a member of KIS’ war time bodyguard corps.  From 1998 to 2003, Choe Yong Rim was director of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.  In 2006 he was appointed to be Secretary-General of the Supreme People’s Assembly.  In 2004 he was reported to be a member of KJI’s Special Operations Command Group, which also included Generals Hyon Chol Hae and Ri Myong Su.  This special command group was responsible for studying and managing contingency planning in the DPRK, following the US invasion of Iraq.  Around August, 2009, Choe Yong Rim was appointed to fill the long-vacant chief secretary’s job on the KWP Pyongyang Municipal Committee (which is the same as a provincial party committee).

Choe Sang Hun reports in the NY Times:

Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea analyst at Dongguk University in Seoul, said: “By personally attending the parliamentary session and calling for Jang Song-taek’s appointment, Kim Jong-il made his brother-in-law the official manager of the power succession.”

With his new post, Mr. Jang has become “the No. 2 man in both responsibility and influence,” said Yang Moo-jin, a North Korea analyst at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Mr. Jang’s expanding influence coincided with what analysts said was Kim Jong-il’s growing dependence on his trusted relatives in his waning years in power. Mr. Kim, 68, is still believed to call the shots, but he appears to have become visibly weak after his 2008 stroke, raising doubts about whether he can live long enough to secure a transfer of power.

KCNA reports on the replacement of several Cabinet officials, as well as the appointments of Mr. Choe, recommended by the KWP Political Bureau, and the appointment of Mr. Jang, proposed by KJI:

Deputy Kim Yong Il was recalled from the post of premier and Deputy Choe Yong Rim was elected to the post at the proposal of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee at the end of the discussion on the first agenda item.

Then followed discussion on the second agenda item.

Deputy Jang Song Thaek was elected as vice-chairman of the NDC at the proposal of Kim Jong Il.

Some Cabinet members were recalled and appointed at the session.

Deputies Kwak Pom Gi, O Su Yong and Pak Myong Son were recalled from the post of vice-premier while Deputy Ri Ju O from the post of minister of Light Industry, Deputy Jong Yon Gwa from the post of minister of Foodstuff and Daily Necessities Industry and Deputy Pak Hak Son from that of chairman of the Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission.

Deputies Kang Nu’ng-su, Kim Rak Hui, Ri T’ae-nam and Jon Ha Chol were appointed as vice-premiers, Deputy Jo Pyong Ju as vice-premier and concurrently minister of Machine-Building Industry, Deputy Han Kwang Bok as vice-premier and concurrently minister of Electronics Industry, Deputy An Jong Su as minister of Light Industry, Deputy Jo Yong Chol as minister of Foodstuff and Daily Necessities Industry and Deputy Pak Myo’ng-ch’o’l as minister of Physical Culture and Sports.

New DPRK Premier Choe Yong-rim is 3rd L in this photograph from KJI's December, 2009, guidance tour of the Pyongyang Cornstarch Factory (Photo: KCNA)

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