News / Asia

Power Shift Detailed in North Korean Party Charter

In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the communist nation's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea
In this Oct. 10, 2010 file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un attends a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the communist nation's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea

Multimedia

Audio

North Korea has revised the charter of its only political party, apparently to ensure a smooth transition of power from father to son in the reclusive communist state.

VOA correspondent Steve Herman has obtained a copy of the document, which has not been made public in or outside North Korea.

North Korea experts say the revised Korea Workers Party charter (PDF), obtained by VOA, appears to create the framework for ruler Kim Jong Il to be succeeded by his son, Kim Jong Un.

North Korea Workers Party Charter

The charter revision is dated September 28th last year, which was when party representatives met in Pyongyang. The following day the state-run news agency announced the charter had been revised to strengthen the party’s leadership and enhance its role in the army.

But specifics were not revealed, nor has the new charter been publicly issued.

Specialists on North Korea, including some in the intelligence community, who have seen the copy of the revised charter, say they have no reason to doubt its authenticity.

Government officials and academic analysts in Seoul say one of the changes to the charter allows the head of the party to also run the Central Military Commission, ensuring that one person is able to control all military and state affairs. Kim Jong Un, who is in his
late 20’s, co-chairs the commission along with 68-year-old Army Chief of Staff, Vice Marshall Ri Yong Ho.

Cheong Seong-chang is a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute, which studies South Korean defense and foreign affairs policy. He says the change means Kim Jong Un will have full authority to control the military and the country should his father suddenly die.

Cheong recalls the late communist Chinese leader Mao Zedong saying political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Likewise in North Korea’s socialist system, control of the military is decisive. With the revision of the party charter, Cheong says, in effect a political decision has been made giving Kim Jong Un rule over the military.

North Korea follows what it calls a “military first” policy, which gives the country’s armed forces a dominant role in society, and means that whoever controls the army, can control the nation.

Pyongyang maintains one of the largest standing armies in the world – with more than one million in uniform. It also is developing nuclear weapons, despite past pledges that it would not.

A former U.S. State Department adviser on North Korea, Professor Balbina Hwang at the National Defense University in Washington, says something else can be inferred from the charter revision.

"This is a government that has institutions and rules, even though it is ruled by an omnipotent authority. But in fact there is such a thing as domestic politics within the society. It is not monolithic. There are different interest groups. And even the patina or facade of rules and laws actually matter," said Balbina Hwang.

Kim Jong Il’s youngest son, a virtually unknown figure in North Korea until last year, suddenly emerged into the spotlight when he was appointed a four-star general. Since then state media have frequently shown Kim Jong Un at prominent events alongside his father.

Most North Koreans have yet to learn about the changes to the party’s charter. State media, monitored outside the country, have not reported specifics nor released the new charter.

North Korea experts say that is another sign that the elder Kim is proceeding cautiously because of skepticism, domestically and internationally, about transferring power to a third generation of the family. Kim Jong Il succeeded his father, Kim Il Sung, who was North
Korea’s first leader.

North Korea is one of the world’s poorest countries. It has remained technically at war with prosperous South Korea since a 1953 truce halted fighting in their civil war.

You May Like

Photogallery Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Weeki
X
August 29, 2014 2:18 AM
The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid