Kim Jong Un, more than his predecessors in office, shared the responsibilities among members of an elite group of North Korean government officials. Now, as he faces the worst crisis in power in nearly a decade, the young dictator makes sure he divides the blame among them as well.
At a meeting of the Politburo late last month, Kim warned that the state of the corona in the country was serious. He scolded his technocrats for having an “outdated way of thinking” and threatened to replace them with those who were “perfectly prepared for their loyalty.”
The North Korean state media, which reported on the meeting, did not elaborate on what went wrong. Kim Peter has a variety of executives in what has been the biggest change in leadership in nearly a decade, according to an analysis by Tai Yong Ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected and is now a lawmaker from the opposition in South Korea.
It appears that one of the people removed is the most senior military officer in North Korea, Ri Pyong Chul. On Thursday, the state media published photos of Kim at Kim Il Sung’s mausoleum, a visit marking an important holiday on the anniversary of his grandfather’s death. Sherry was seen wearing civilian clothes and standing two rows behind his usual place close to the state leader.
The change is due in part to Kim’s effort to reshape the way North Korea’s government works. ‘Ni. “It’s an attempt to make the system work better, though it’s very frustrating that it does not work.”
Kim has moved away from two North Korean governmental traditions – an atmosphere of inability to make mistakes and a tendency to manage at the micro level. Unlike his father and grandfather, the North Korean leader allowed people to think he was more human than divine. He admitted his mistakes and apologized. He shed tears at a military parade last year. He even allowed the state media to broadcast things lamenting the weight he had shed, while the state was suffering from a food crisis.
At the same time, he gave his subordinates more authority to manage the affairs of the military, economy and other fields on a daily basis. He goes to fewer events and delegated more powers regarding personal reviews of various sites. Photographs of North Korean leaders from tourists at recently built sites have long been a regular part of the country’s propaganda.
“Kim Jong Un has noted that for some time he is not the only person leading the country, that there is a group of responsible people,” said Ramon Pachko Pardo, chairman of KF-VUB Korea at the School of Government in Brussels. “Their job is right and now he is pointing the finger of blame at them.”
Problems managing rice reserves
The failure that caused him to criticize his country’s senior officials last month is apparently linked to a misreporting of the army’s rice reserves, according to an analysis by Tai, the South Korean legislator.
Kim apparently ordered the military to use his rice stockpiles for distribution to the public, Tai wrote, and the actual inventory was smaller than senior officers reported. Typically, the military turns to China for re-supply, but because of the corona plague the border between the countries is closed. “If Kim realized this time he had received false reports, it would be an incident because he is supposed to be angry and irritated,” Tai wrote.
On Thursday, South Korea’s intelligence agency informed lawmakers that Kim’s anger may have come from poor management of rice reserves, including delays in opening a new disinfection center near the border with China.
The isolated country has become even more isolated in the plague, for fear that large eruptions could completely destroy its shaky health care system. This stifled trade with China at the border. Pyongyang does not appear to be interested in nuclear talks with Washington that could ease sanctions and ease some of the economic pressure.
Demanding for better policy implementation – and as a result – shifting the blame from him onwards – represents one of the last options left in Kim’s hands.
The North Korean leader should have sent a message to the ruling class regarding responsibility, Hu-ryong, a senior research fellow at the Seoul Institute for Defense Analysis, a government research institute, told me. “If Kim does not receive immediate support from his elite group, he will not be able to manage and appease the complaints of the people in North Korea,” she told me.
Until corona vaccines are widely available, the Kim administration is basically stuck in place, as reopening the border even partially would be too dangerous due to infrastructure weakness, widespread malnutrition and an aging population, said Jihu Cha, a North Korea health system expert. . “They have no choice but to keep the border closed,” said Dr Che, a World Health Specialist at the University of Manchester.
Severe economic crisis
North Korea has signed up for vaccinations under the Covax program but has not yet received doses.
The situation in North Korea, paralyzed by anti-plague measures, has recently worsened. Kim’s weight loss, which Seoul’s intelligence agency estimates as a drop of 10 to 20 pounds – was framed by the country’s media as a sign of North Korea’s ongoing struggles. Previous estimates put Kim’s weight at 140 pounds or more.
Food supplies in North Korea have shrunk due to summer floods hitting agricultural production. But rice and corn prices have not skyrocketed, according to Kang Mei Jin, a defector who monitors the country’s economy and routinely talks with North Koreans.
However, times are tough and many people have had to sell their motorcycles or air conditioners for money, she said. The sales hours of unofficial markets, where many North Koreans make a living, are reduced as places are disinfected in the mornings and their profits are limited because the government sets prices, said Kang, who works for the Daily NK newspaper published in Seoul. “But if I ask them what food they put on the table, it’s not that different from before,” Kang said.