Pyongyang adopts two-track strategy

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Pyongyang adopts two-track strategy

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has adopted a two-track strategy in dealing with its staggering economy and nuclear weapons program, differentiating from the “military-first” policy led by his father Kim Jong-il.

Kim convened “a plenary meeting” of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Committee on Sunday, where all committee members discuss domestic and international policies and reshuffle the party’s power elites.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported in its English-language dispatch on Sunday that the meeting “set forth a new strategic line on carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously” and this is intended to realize the development of the country as fast as possible.

To achieve their goals, the meeting proposed specific tasks, including an increase in productivity in basic industries; stabilizing the livelihood of people through boosting the agriculture and light industry; developing the nuclear-powered industry and proceeding with the light water reactor development project.

In September 2010, North Korea held a meeting, under the leadership of late leader Kim Jong-il, for a party reshuffle ahead of the successor Jong-un’s rule. Under the rule of Jong-un, it was the first time for the ruling party to have the meeting.

Some promotions for high-ranking officials were also announced. Pak Pong-ju, director of light industry management of the ruling party, was named a member of the Political Bureau under the committee. Hyon Yong-chol, chief of the general staff of the army, Choe Pu-il, minister of people’s security, and Kim Kyok-sik, minister of defense, were appointed to alternative members of the bureau.

Paek Kye-ryong, a secretary in the party’s Kangwon Province branch, was named as new director of the party’s light industry department, replacing Pak.

All of the four newly-promoted to the bureau were from the Hamgyong region, the KCNA reported. This was unusual because founder Kim Il Sung had power struggles with his communist rivals from the provinces.

At the head table in the meeting, Jang Song-thaek, the powerful guardian and uncle of leader Kim Jong-un, was sitting left of Kim, along with other high-ranking officials such as Kim Yong-nam, presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. Jang has not appeared in the North’s state media recently. Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute think tank, said in his analysis report yesterday that the two-track strategy of Jong-un appears to be similar to that of founder Kim Il Sung’s.

“The founder, grandfather of Jong-un, announced his plans for economic development and national security in 1962, when he convened the same meeting of the committee,” Cheong said. And that was different from his father Jong-il’s strategy, which sacrificed economy for his so-called “military-first” policy.

Still, Cheong said Jong-un could show some reformist moves in the economy through promoting Pak. “Pak, who is known as a reformist in the party, was promoted, and he could possibly be appointed to prime minister or deputy minister of the cabinet later, to steer the overall policy of the North Korean economy,” Cheong said.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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