Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea

The Politburo, officially the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), formerly the Political Council, is the highest decision-making body in the party between sessions of the Central Committee. Article 25 of the Party Charter stipulates that "The Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee and its Standing Committee organize and direct all party work on behalf of the party Central Committee between plenary meetings. The Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee shall meet at least once every month."[1] The Politburo is elected by the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.

HistoryEdit

Until April 1956, the Politburo was known as the Political Council.[2] After Kim Il-sung's unitary ruling system was established in the 1960s, the Politburo was transformed from a decision-making body where policies could be discussed into a rubber stamp body.[3] Leading members have disappeared without explanation; the last was Kim Tong-gyu, in 1977.[4] Politburo members under Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il lacked a strong power base, and depended on the party leader for their position.[4] Because of this, the Politburo became a loyal servant of the party leader.[4]

The Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) of the Workers' Party of Korea was established at the 6th Congress in 1980, and became the highest WPK body when the Politburo and the Central Committee were not in session.[5] With the death of O Jin-u in 1995, Kim Jong-il remained the only member of the Politburo Standing Committee still alive; the four others (Kim Il-sung, Kim Il, O Jin-u, and Ri Jong-ok) died in office.[6] Between O Jin-u's death and the 3rd Conference, there were no reports indicating that Kim Jong-il or the central party leadership was planning to renew the PSC composition.[7]

Similar to the Central Committee, the Politburo was dormant during much of Kim Jong-il's rule;[8] however, the 3rd Conference elected new Politburo members.[8] While many foreign observers believed it would signify a generational shift, it did not; the youngest member was 53 years old, and the average age was 74 (with 12 over age 80).[8] The majority of new members were aides to Kim Jong-il or Kim family members.[8] Kim Kyong-hui (Kim Jong-il's sister) and Jang Song-thaek (Kim Kyong-hui's husband) were appointed full and candidate member, respectively.[8] Several of Jang's proteges were elected candidate members, including Ju Sang-song (Minister of People's Security), U Tong-chuk (First Deputy Director of the State Security Department) and Choe Ryong-hae (Secretary for Military Affairs).[8] Pak Jong-su (First Deputy Head of the Organization and Guidance Department), a leading facilitator of Kim Jong-un's succession, was appointed a candidate member.[8] Most of the new members were cabinet members, military officials, party secretaries or officials from the security establishment.[8] Ten members from the National Defense Commission and three deputy premiers were appointed to the Politbüro.[8] Leading economic experts (such as Hong Sok-yong and Tae Jong-su) and foreign experts (such as Kang Sok-ju, Kim Yong-il and Kim Yang-gon) became members.[8] At the 4th Conference, one-third of the Politburo was dismissed in unannounced retirements and dismissals.[9] Jang Song-thaek, Pak To-chun and Vice Marshal Kim Jong-gak were promoted from candidate to full membership; Hyon Chol-hae, Kim Won-hong and Ri Myong-su, all members of the Central Military Commission, were appointed to full Politburo membership.[10] Kwak Pom-gi, O Kuk-ryol, Ro Tu-chol, Ri Pyong-sam and Jo Yon-jun were elected candidate members.[10]

RoleEdit

Officially, the Politburo is responsible for conducting its activities as well as deciding on important issues between two Central Committee plenums and should meet once a month. Its members include important state and military leaders, as the Premier and the vice-chairmen of the State Affairs Commission.

The Politburo's inner body is the Presidium (formerly the Standing Committee), elected by the WPK Central Committee, in charge of day-to-day party work. It is usually made up of the supreme leader and four other members. In practice, the Presidium is the highest body in both the party and the country, and its decisions de facto have the force of law.

Current PolitburoEdit

Members and alternate members of the Politburo as of 21 August 2020:

MembersEdit

Member Image Member since Party position(s) State position(s)
Marshal
Kim Jong-un
  11 April 2012
Choe Ryong-hae   11 April 2012
  • Politburo Presidium Member
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
KPA Marshal
Ri Pyong-chol
  31 December 2019
  • Politburo Presidium Member
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission
  • Member of the State Affairs Commission
Kim Tok-hun   31 December 2019
  • Politburo Presidium Member
Pak Pong-ju   31 March 2013
  • Politburo Presidium Member
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Vice Chairman of the State Affairs Commission
Kim Jae-ryong   9 April 2019
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Director of the Organization Administrative Department
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Member of the State Affairs Commission
Ri Il-hwan   31 December 2019
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department
Choe Hwi   7 October 2017
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Director of the Workers' and Social Organizations Department
  • Chairman of the National Sports Guidance Commission
Pak Thae-dok   13 August 2020
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Director of the Finance and Planning Department
Kim Yong-chol   9 May 2016
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Member of the State Affairs Commission
Pak Thae-song   9 May 2016
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Director of the Science and Education Department
KPA Marshal
Pak Jong-chon
  11 April 2020
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army
General
Choe Pu-il
  31 March 2013
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Director of the Civil Defense Department
  • Chairman of the Legislation Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
General
Kim Su-gil
  9 April 2019
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Member of the State Affairs Commission
  • Director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army
Thae Hyong-chol   9 April 2019
  • Vice President of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly
O Su-yong   18 February 2015
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Director of the Economic Affairs Department

Alternate membersEdit

Member Image Member since Party position(s) State position(s)
General
Kim Jong-gwan
  31 December 2019
  • Minister of the People's Armed Forces
Kim Hyong-jun   31 December 2019
  • Vice Chairman of the Central Committee
  • Director of the International Relations Department
  • Member of the State Affairs Commission
  • Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly
Ho Chol-man   31 December 2019
  • Director of the Light Industry Department
Jon Kwang-ho   13 August 2019
  • Department Director of the Central Committee
Jo Yong-won   10 April 2019
  • First Vice Director of the Organization and Guidance Department
Kim Yo-jong   31 December 2019
  • First Vice Director of the United Front Department
Pak Myong-sun   13 August 2020
  • Department Director of the Central Committee
  • Vice Premier of the Cabinet
General
Jong Kyong-thaek
  9 April 2019
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Member of the State Affairs Commission
  • Minister of State Security
Ri Ho-rim   31 December 2019
  • Department Director of the Central Committee
Kim Il-chol   31 December 2019
  • Department Director of the Central Committee
  • Vice Premier of the Cabinet
  • Chairman of the State Planning Commission
Im Chol-ung   9 May 2016
  • Vice Premier of the Cabinet
Ri Ryong-nam   10 April 2019
  • Vice Premier of the Cabinet
Kim Yong-hwan   7 June 2020
  • Chairman of the WPK Pyongyang City Committee
Ri Hi-yong   10 April 2019
  • Chairman of the WPK North Hamgyong Provincial Committee
Pak Jong-nam   10 April 2019
  • Chairman of the WPK Kangwon Provincial Committee

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Rules of the Workers' Party of Korea (28 September 2010) (조선로동당규약—2010년 9월 28일)" (PDF). September 28, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 22, 2017.
  2. ^ Lankov 1999, p. 47.
  3. ^ Buzo 1999, p. 31.
  4. ^ a b c Buzo 1999, p. 32.
  5. ^ Kim 1982, p. 140.
  6. ^ Kim 2000, p. 257.
  7. ^ Kim 2000, pp. 257–258.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gause 2011, p. 148.
  9. ^ Gause 2013, p. 40.
  10. ^ a b "Kim Jong Un Appointed "First Secretary" of Korean Workers' Party". North Korea Leadership Watch. April 11, 2012. Archived from the original on March 13, 2014. Retrieved March 13, 2014.

BibliographyEdit

Articles, books and journal entries
Books