Will Kim Jong Un announce reforms at next year’s Party convention?

first_img Facebook Twitter News By Daily NK – 2015.11.30 4:14pm The media should always report on just thefacts. However, North Korea’s Party-run publication has ended up becomingnothing more than a mouthpiece for the regime. You are now tuning into “Rodong View.” During this program wewill take an in-depth look at what is being reported by the Party-run Rodong Sinmun andcompare it to the situation in actuality. Today, we are joined by director SeoJae Pyeong from the Committee for the Democratization of North Korea. An editorial, titled “A Remarkable Time forRevolution at the 7th Party Convention,” covered the front page of theRodong Sinmun recently. The article emphasized a focus on the upcomingParty convention, the first in 36 years, stating, “Now is a time of unprecedentedgrowth, a time when myths about legendary heroes will be created. Now is thetime when we desperately need to safeguard the core of the Party.” Many arepaying close attention to how Kim Jong Un will handle the event. Now, let’stake a look at what the Rodong Sinmun is reporting about the upcomingconvention. 1. Director Seo, could you please describe theParty convention in detail for us? What are some of the international topicsdiscussed at this type of delegation? North Korea has held a total of six Partyconventions and the Party has historically convened once every 10 years. It’shere that the Party announces major policies and measures to implement them.The results of policies from previous conventions are also discussed. It’s theParty’s primary vehicle for debating discrepancies or inadequacies found amongthese results and how to go about reforming them. The people must have beentruly shocked by the Party’s announcement, seeing as next year will mark 36 yearssince the last convention was held in 1980. 2. So, why do you think Kim Jong Un hasconvened the Party once again? First of all, Kim Jong Un is more willingto hold these conventions in comparison to  his father and grandfather.Although his predecessors implemented policies designed to assert the dominanceof socialism and strengthen the economy, they were both unable to bring anyactual results to the table and decided not to hold any following conventions.But, Kim Jong Un is mostly free from this burden to produce change, as he issimply aiming to finish what they started. If the convention is not held next year, awhopping 40 years will have passed between meetings. It’s valid to say theWorkers’ Party has already gone under, considering they haven’t met in so long.I think Kim Jong Un has decided, after much deliberation, that he needs to holdthis convention because the Party is being criticized for its lack of action.This is in the face of propaganda, claiming the “Party is invincible andinfallible”, circulating through the population. It would have been prudent tohold the convention this year to coincide with the 70th anniversary of thefounding of the Workers’ Party, but I think there will be will plenty todiscuss next year regardless. It’s also critical for the regime theimpart a message of inspiration to the people through the convention. Kim JongUn burdened the people with the 70th anniversary preparations all year, and itwill only be worse next year with the convention arrangements. I think they aregoing to convene no matter what, for the sake of maintaining stability withinthe regime.3.Following the announcement of the upcomingconvention, the Rodong Sinmun has begun ramping up. Also, it was mentioned thatParty Secretary Choe Ryong Hae will be hosting the convention. What could bethe motivation behind this? *Well, Choe Ryong Hae is currently the Workers’ Organizations’ Secretary. After the Organization and Guidance Department, the Workers’Organizations’ Department is the group most responsible for managing thecitizens and as the secretary of this group, he directs subordinateorganizations such as the Youth League, Trade Union, and Women’s League. Thisputs him in charge of the vast majority of the population. As such, one canspeculate that he alone is responsible for the success of this convention. In his early 30s, Choi worked as YouthSecretary at a convention, so maybe this will be reminiscent for him. Now in his60s, hosting this convention will be of major significance to him. Also, at thelast convention, his father served as the head of the Ministry of the People’sArmed Forces. Therefore, the Party is likely to highlight the fact that bothfather and son served in positions of authority at separate conventions. 4. So, there was this interestingexpression I read in the Rodong Sinmun. It went, “One should enjoy BaekduMountain blueberry juice more than cola and never give up their revolutionaryspirit.” What do you think this means? In the 1990s, North Korea used to refer toyouth brainwashed by capitalism as “Coca-Cola” in lectures targeting theeducated class (college students and mid-ranking cadres of state enterprises).So I thought that Coca-Cola referred to some type of ideology. I was in Chinathe first time I actually tasted the drink. As I enjoyed it, I rememberthinking that Coca-Cola could lead to the collapse of North Korea if it everentered the country. It tasted that good. It was funny to see Baekdu Mountainblueberries in the recent Rodong Sinmun. They are sweet like [Western]blueberries and the juice is a beautiful blue color. But, over 90% of ordinarycitizens are unable to try these berries. It’s kind of funny because if theycould, they would experience a taste greater than Coca-Cola. These RodongSinmun articles are out of touch with reality. They urge people to enjoy Baekdublueberries, but the truth is that the people don’t even know what they tastelike. Cola imported from China, Singapore, and Thailand is a much more familiartreat for the average citizen. 4-1 Could this maybe be a way to try andfoster an attitude to reject foreign influence? They say that the true heros of thisgeneration, those that adhere to the “Baekdu Revolutionary Spirit”, are theyouth of the nation. Actually, when they talk about Baekdu blueberries inreference to Coca-Cola, they are actually talking about an absolute blockingout and rejection of foreign influence. Even if people buy into the Party’srhetoric that cola addiction is no laughing matter, there is still a need tocombat the strong influx of outside information that states otherwise. 5. There are already propaganda slogansclaiming that next year’s Party convention will be “a historical turning pointin the construction of a strong and prosperous nation.” Should we look at thisconvention as an important political event welcoming the start of the “Kim JongUn era?” With the 70th anniversary celebration thisyear and the 7th Party convention next year, Kim Jong Un has already outdonehis father after just four years since coming into power. If you look at RodongSinmun articles from the past, they don’t mention much about the previousregime. But now, there is a lot of propaganda celebrating Kim Jong Un’s successin accomplishing decades worth of procrastinated work in a single year. It’s amodest boast that the son is outdoing his father. Ultimately, this “turning point” isactually a climax in the regime thus far, and this convention appears to be anextremely important opportunity for its leader. I think it symbolizes aproclamation ceremony with the message that the Kim Jong Un era has officiallybegun and his regime is legitimately in control. 6. With all this emphasis on the Partyconvention, it looks like preparations are about to be in full swing. How areParty cadre preparing for the event? Well, there are specific guidelines andregulations for arranging a Party convention according to the officialdirective of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’Party of Korea. First, Party cadre must establish ideological education thatfocuses on political enthusiasm and achievement. Next, the organizational roleof the Party must be strengthened. In the past, Rodong Sinmun has writtenarticles to encourage Party members, ordering them to devote themselves to theParty for the sake of the convention. In addition to the emphasis on politicalachievement, economic success will also be stressed in the coming months.Orders reiterating the need to reach lofty economic goals in the face of astruggling financial sector have likely already promulgated the Party. So, itseems that the citizens, Party cadres, and even regular workers will be forcedinto yet another rigorous preparation period. It hurts to even think about thepeople going through another time of day-to-night suffering just to meet goalsset by the regime. 7. The convention is still roughly a yearaway, but let’s take a look at some of the possible talking points. With thetotal shift in generations, do you think we could see a major change in thedirection the country is headed? This is a very important issue and I thinkthat Kim Jong Un and his Party leadership know that they must change thegeneral modus operandi of policymaking. I think they are aware of the impendingcrisis wherein the nation’s society destroys itself. It’s my professionalopinion that we will definitely see some sort of major policy shift either atthe convention or even in the period leading up to it. I think they recognizethat there is a limit to how long stability can last under the current system.Also, I think that because Kim Jong Un knows that not saving the economy is athreat to the very existence of his regime, he is willing to go through greatpains to pass policies that ensure its survival. 8. What economic development plans do youthink will be discussed at the upcoming convention? Do you think there is agood chance that Kim Jong Un will lay out new reforms? I think there is one of two possibilitieshere. First, if he can avoid making reforms and still maintain stability in theregime, he won’t make any reforms. But, if it’s possible to make reforms whileat the same time ensuring the safety of his regime and his position asdictator, then I think he will make partial reforms. I think he will look atexperiences of other socialist nations that have undergone reforms, such asChina, Vietnam and Cuba, and use their models to decide where he wants to steerthe country. I think he has realized that if he doesn’tmake changes, there is a limit to what current economic and political policiescan accomplish; the door must be opened through major reform. Even if it’s notas much as we would like, I would venture a guess that we will see him movingforward with reforms of some kind. 9.It it also very likely that he willdiscuss his own new vision for North Korea at the convention. Some are sayingthis means he wants to move on from his grandfather and father’s “rule withdying instruction” style of politics and begin his own independent era. What doyou think? Well it’s been quite a while since both KimIl Sung and Kim Jong Il died, so it’s either take an independent route or stopworrying about their “dying instructions.” That old style of politics isunrealistic, anyways. That’s why it’s likely he will decide to do things hisown way. It’s also possible he is holding the convention to officially proclaimthis new way ahead. I think he will give orders on specific policies that fithis new vision for the country. I also wonder whether it was a calculatedmeasure to hold the convention next year, after three years of stability and asuccessful major celebration [the 70th anniversary of the Party]. *According to anonymous sources at Seoul’s National Intelligence Service cited by Yonhap News, Choe Ryong Hae was either sentenced to re-education at the Kim Il Sung Higher Party School or to a rural farm to perform hard labor for the same purpose.  Daily NK has not independently verified either of these claims. SHARE North Korea tries to accelerate building of walls and fences along border with China News RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHORcenter_img Will Kim Jong Un announce reforms at next year’s Party convention? There are signs that North Korea is running into serious difficulties with its corn harvest AvatarDaily NKQuestions or comments about this article? 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