중앙데일리

Kim being duped by subordinates

북한군은 총참모부 단일 지휘 통합군 체제
Power may be shifting to son, or aides are too fearful to tell the truth

June 21,2010
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il inspects chicken eggs during a trip last October to a poultry farm located in the communist state’s North Pyongan Province. [YONHAP]

Kim Jong-il’s subordinates are duping their leader with false or deliberately incomplete reports on national affairs, according to sources in Seoul informed of North Korean politics, a possible indication that his grip on power may be weakening.

The sources said there are two possible reasons why Kim is being cut out of the information loop. First, power may be shifting to his son Jong-un, perhaps faster than the North Korean leader desires. Other sources say the situation in the North, in particular its economy, is simply too bad for Kim’s subordinates to admit.

In either case, Kim is being prevented from grasping the full reality of what’s going on in North Korea.

“On the pretext of protecting the physical and mental health of Kim Jong-il, who still suffers from the aftereffects of a stroke he suffered in the summer of 2008, the power class [in the North] is giving selective or exaggerated reports to Kim,” said a South Korean government source, refusing to be identified. That source said some of the reports are manipulated by Kim Jong-un, Kim’s third son, who is likely to be his successor.

“Kim Jong-un, after being briefed by military leaders and the information service agents under his control on various issues, is selecting which reports go to Kim Jong-il, and which do not,” the source said.

There are signs that the North Korean leader doesn’t want his son to have such power yet. The source said Kim was recently informed by close subordinates that his son was manipulating information and, in response, ordered all reports to be given to him through his secretaries, not through Jong-un.

According to other government sources, however, many of the selective or exaggerated reports given to Kim are to prevent him from knowing how bad the economy is. After a recent failed currency reform, Kim began to demand improvement in the economy. To avoid reprimand, his subordinates are reporting that the economy is in better shape than it really is, the sources said.

For example, Kim visited a flour processing factory in Pyongyang in late January, but the factory was suffering from a shortage of wheat. To make operations look normal, Kim’s subordinates urgently secured some wheat to operate the production line during the visit. Kim stayed longer than expected, and the wheat ran out. Embarrassed, the subordinates put the completed flour through the production line a second time.

“Recently, Rodong Sinmun [the newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party of the North] is boasting about improvement in the economy, reporting on Kim’s visits to many industrial sites, but the reality is much different from what it wants to project,” said a South Korean government official.


By Lee Young-jong [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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군 개혁 10년 프로그램 짜자북한의 군 편제는 남한과 비교가 불가능할 정도로 다른 점이 많다. 한국군은 육·해·공 3군이 병립하는 합동군 체제이지만 북한은 총참모부가 육·해·공군을 총괄 지휘하는 통합군 체제다. 북한군은 국방위원회를 정점으로 최고사령부→인민무력부→총참모부 그리고 예하의 부대 및 기능조직으로 이어지는 통합군 단일 지휘체계를 유지하고 있다. 하지만 실제 운영되는 지휘체계는 매우 복잡하다. 김정일 국방위원장은 국방사업 전반 즉, 군령권(軍令權)과 군정권(軍政權)을 행사한다. 군사 지휘체계상 국방위원장은 최고사령관(김정일)에게 명령·지시하는 체계를 갖춤으로써 국방위원장은 국방 업무를 총괄하는 군 최고통수권자로서, 최고사령관은 군의 최고위 직책으로 임무를 수행하도록 돼 있다. 국방위는 헌법상 최고 권력기관이기도 하다.

북한군 총참모부는 우리의 합참본부와 육해공군 본부, 육군의 1·2·3군 사령부를 합친 것이라고 할 수 있다. 총참모부 산하의 각 국(局)은 한국군 본부와 참모조직과 달리 직속 부대를 갖고 있다.

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