North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Organization Guidance Department and WMD Program

OGD’s responsibilities include monitoring and regulating the membership status and activities of the WPK’s estimated three million members. It controls the political affairs and personnel appointments of the WPK’s main party organizations, including the central party system (the thousands of cadres and functionaries working for the WPK Central Committee in Pyongyang), the provincial party committees, city and county party committees and the numerous party committees and organizations that exist at all levels of the DPRK government, the KPA, cultural and educational institutions, and many of North Korea’s factories, mines and farms. In addition to its personnel and surveillance functions, OGD directs the activities of all WPK members, including ideological education and indoctrination; criticism and self-criticism sessions; attendance at rallies, performances and other public events; participation in civic endeavors such as construction and public works projects; and contributions of money, food and supplies to party projects. OGD personnel assess and record these activities in files on each WPK member’s “Party Life,” producing data that can determine eligibility for a job promotion, school acceptance, social welfare benefit or permission to trade in a market. Through this system, the Suryong and members of the core leadership can communicate policies, messages and ideological instruction, as well as enforce order within the workforce that forms the backbone of the North Korean political system.

Its three hundred-member staff carries out entry- and senior-level appointments, dismissals, demotions and terminations in the party, army and government, and it is through these powers that the office exerts its primary influence over the WMD program. Its  security organization and central party guidance sections link with the WPK Cadres’ Affairs Department to collaboratively carry out  nuclear- and space-related appointments at all levels, including WPK Central Committee deputy directors, bureau heads and section chiefs; relevant Cabinet ministers and vice ministers; department directors-general; commission personnel; and academics (deans, department chairs and faculty).

The WPK Cadres’ Affairs Department originally was part of OGD during the 1970s.  Kim Jong Il placed cadres’ affairs’ sections throughout the party, military and state to monitor the activities of officials (cadres) and receive reports through channels separate from his father Kim Il Sung.  The current Secretary and Director of WPK Cadres Affairs is Kim P’yo’ng-hae, a former OGD deputy director.  For a number of years, Cadres Affairs’ secretary and director was the late Kim Ku’k-t’ae, another former OGD deputy director.

OGD also approves and regulates military personnel appointments and military promotions, and it oversees elements of the KPA General Staff and Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces (MPAF) involved in nuclear and missile tests.  Among the KPA bureaus involved in nuclear weapons development and weapons testing are the KPA General Logistics Department (under MPAF), the KPA General Rear Services Department, the KPA General Staff Nuclear-Chemical Bureau, the KPA General Staff Ordnance Bureau and the KPA General Staff Communications Bureau.  In addition, the OGD administration section (formerly the WPK Administration Department led by the late Jang Song Taek)  is involved in personnel appointments in the internal security agencies responsible for protecting defense-related facilities.

From 1974 until 1992, and then from 1993 until 2011, the OGD Director was the late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il. Since his death, the director has been Kim Jong Un. OGD senior deputy directors and its deputy directors have policy portfolios (internal security, military affairs, Cabinet and domestic economy, local affairs, munitions productions) that include personnel appointments, situational awareness and policy implementation. OGD senior deputy and deputy directors are realistically some of the most powerful people in the DPRK after the Suryo’ng.

In addition to all of these functions and responsibilities, OGD also serves as the Suryong’s gatekeeper for official communications and what officials, functionaries and even North Korean citizens have direct, physical access to Kim Jong Un.  It manages and staffs the Liaison Office where written reports, policy documents and briefings are channeled to relevant party offices then submitted to the Supreme Leader for review.  OGD’s 5th Section is also responsible for appointing and managing various staff who work in Kim Jong Un’s executive office, also known as the Personal Secretariat.  The 5th Section employs numerous technical and administrative assistants who staff Jong Un’s offices, domestic and technical staff who work in his residences and numerous musicians (the Wangch’aesan Light Music Troupe, Moranbong Band), entertainers, chefs and “juicy girls” who work in the central party’s entertainment facilities.  Under Kim Jong Il, the 5th Section was responsible for recruiting and appointing members of the “Joy Brigades.”  Interestingly, Personal Secretariat personnel use OGD job titles (deputy director, section chief, etc.) to conceal where they actually work and to attain the generous housing and social welfare benefits commensurate to OGD personnel. Using OGD positions as a formal job title, essentially a cover, applies to other select senior party, military and government personnel.

An affiliate of 38 North