Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea

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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 Party Charter stipulate: "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.

History

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 Oh 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, Oh Jin U, and Lee Jong-ok) died in office.[6] Between Oh 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 Chu 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-syong and Tae Jong-su) and foreign experts (such as Kang Sok-chu, Kim Yong-il and Kim Yang-kon) 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]

Role

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 National Defence Commission.

The Politbüro'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.

Membership

Full

Ordered in political position ranking
Rank Name Member since Duration Party position(s) State position(s)
1 Marshal
Kim Jong-un
11 April 2012 6 years, 122 days
2 Kim Yong-nam August 1978 40 years, 10 days
  • Politüro Standing Committee Member
3 Choe Ryong-hae 28 September 2010 7 years, 317 days
  • Politburo Standing Committee Member
  • Vice Chairman for Organization
  • Director of the Central Organization and Guidance Department
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Vice Chairman of the State Affairs Commission
4 Pak Pong-ju 31 March 2013 5 years, 133 days
  • Politburo Standing Committee Member
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
5 Vice Marshal
Kim Jong-gak
20 April 2018 113 days
6 Pak Kwang-ho 7 October 2017 308 days
  • Vice Chairman for Propaganda
  • Director of the Central Propaganda and Agitation Department
7 Ri Su-yong 9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • Vice Chairman for International Relations
  • Director of the Central International Relations Department
  • Member of the State Affairs Commission
  • Chairman of the SPA Foreign Affairs Committee
8 Kim Phyong-hae 28 September 2010 7 years, 317 days
  • Vice Chairman for Cadres
  • Director of the Central Cadres Department
  • Chairman of the SPA Deputies Credentials Screening Committee
9 Thae Jong-su 7 October 2017 308 days
  • Vice Chairman for Machine Building
  • Director of the Central Machine-Building Department
10 O Su-yong 18 February 2015 3 years, 174 days
  • Vice Chairman for Economy
  • Director of the Central Economic Affairs Department
11 An Jong-su 7 October 2017 308 days
  • Vice Chairman for Light Industry
  • Director of the Central Light Industry Department
12 Pak Thae-song 9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • Vice Chairman for Planning
  • Director of the Central Finance and Planning Department
13 Kim Yong-chol 9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • Vice Chairman for United Front Work
  • Director of the Central United Front Department
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Member of the State Affairs Commission
14 Yang Hyong-sop 8 December 1993 24 years, 246 days
15 Ro Tu-chol 11 April 2012 6 years, 122 days
  • Vice Premier
  • Chairman of the State Planning Commission
16 General
Pak Yong-sik
9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
17 Vice Marshal
Ri Myong-su
9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
18 General
Choe Pu-il
31 March 2013 5 years, 133 days
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Minister of People's Security
  • Member of the State Affairs Commission
  • Chairman of the SPA Legislation Committee
19 Ri Yong-ho 9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days

Alternate

Name Name Member since Duration Party position(s) State position(s)
20 Choe Hwi 7 October 2017 308 days
  • Vice Chairman for Workers' Organizations
  • Director of the Central Workers' Organizations Department
21 Kim Su-gil 9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • Chairman of the WPK Pyongyang Committee
22 Jo Yon-jun 11 April 2012 6 years, 122 days
23 Kim Nung-o 9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • Chairman of the WPK North Phyongan Committee
24 Pak Thae-dok 7 October 2017 308 days
  • Vice Chairman for Science and Education
25 Im Chol-ung 9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • Vice Premier
26 Ri Pyong-chol 9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • First Vice Director of the Organization and Guidance Department
27 Colonel General
No Kwang-chol
9 May 2016 2 years, 94 days
  • First Vice Minister of the People's Armed Forces
28 Colonel General
Ri Yong-gil
8 April 2014 4 years, 125 days
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Vice Chief of the KPA General Staff
29 Kim Yo-jong 7 October 2017 308 days
  • First Vice Director of the Central Propaganda and Agitation Department
30 Jong Kyong-thaek 7 October 2017 308 days
  • Member of the Central Military Commission
  • Minister of State Security

See also

References

Footnotes

  1. ^ "Rules of the Workers' Party of Korea (28 September 2010) (조선로동당규약—2010년 9월 28일)". 28 September 2010. 
  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. 11 April 2012. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 

Bibliography

Articles, books and journal entries

Books

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