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NK Security Agencies Wage ‘Loyalty Contest’ for Successor

NK Security Agencies Wage ‘Loyalty Contest’ for Successor

Posted July. 16, 2010 13:59,   


Sources on North Korea say the communist country’s prisons are filled as the Ministry of People’s Security and the Ministry of State Security have been rounding up people since the February 8 announcement of a joint statement on “sweeping away impure forces."

News of public executions has also surfaced. So what is happening in the North?

○ ‘Loyalty competition’

According to sources, the two ministries since February have conducted tight surveillance in the border area near China. They internally declared a “period of combat” in focusing large-scale inspection and air wave detection activities in border areas to indiscriminately arrest people trying to escape the North, those helping them, and holders of Chinese-made mobile phones.

The sources called the atmosphere around border areas “brutal.”

Radio Free Asia and Open Radio for North Korea reported late last month that three North Koreans were publicly executed after being convicted for murder and human trafficking.

The North Korean Intellectuals’ Solidarity, a group of North Korean escapees in South Korea, said 14 residents of Musan County in the Stalinist country’s North Hamkyong Province will soon be executed for attempting to flee the North, helping other escapees, possessing mobile phones, and trading narcotics.

A source said more people will be executed in Hoeryong, North Hamkyong Province.

The solidarity said Tuesday that the Ministry of People’s Security is seeking to computerize resident registration numbers across the North by 2012 to strengthen government control over the people and investigating those missing in the process.

Another source said a “loyalty competition” has begun between the two security agencies since Kim Jong Un, the third son of and heir apparent to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, has begun to exercise his grip over the organizations.

○ Cheonan sinking follows junior Kim’s takeover of consolidated bureau

Kim Jong Un last year concentrated on taking over intelligence agencies. As a result, the operations and intelligence departments of the ruling (North) Korean Workers` Party and the reconnaissance bureau of the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces were integrated into a general reconnaissance bureau, with the junior Kim given the authority to make final decisions.

Following his takeover of the consolidated bureau, the North sent agents to South Korea in an unsuccessful mission to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, a former Korean Workers’ Party secretary and the highest-ranking North Korean official to defect to the South.

South Korean intelligence says the March 26 attack on the Cheonan was led by the general reconnaissance bureau. Speculation is rising over whether Pyongyang is growing more radical regardless of whether the junior Kim gave a direct order for the attack to impress his father or if his subordinates are competing for his favor.

Sources on the North say the junior Kim’s next goal is to gain control over the Workers` Party, which will hold its representatives’ convention in September. The party is undergoing a generational change in which senior elderly members are being replaced by the young elite.

In that respect, the death of Ri Je Gang, senior deputy director of the party’s organization and guidance department, reportedly from a traffic accident early last month holds meaning. Gaining control over the party is more difficult than over intelligence and security agencies.

Sources also say the junior Kim’s takeover of the military will be the final step in his succession process that will likely be completed by 2012, when the North aims to declare itself a “powerful and prosperous country.”