N.Korea Workers’ Party meeting delay fuels speculation

Posted on : 2010-09-16 14:17 KST Modified on : 2010-09-16 14:17 KST
Attention has focused on whether Kim Jong-il will designate his successor at the meeting
 across which rice plants remain a healthy yellow color in spite of flooding
across which rice plants remain a healthy yellow color in spite of flooding

By Son Won-je, Staff writer

The third Workers’ Party of Korea meeting of party representatives, which had been expected to convene in the sangsun (the first half) of September, had reportedly not convened as of Sept. 15. In North Korea, the term sangsun means the first 10 or first 15 days of the month, so its failure to convene thus far constitutes a delay.

Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Unification Minister Hyun In-taek, “It appears that the meeting of party representatives did not take place today, and that could have been because of the floods or for various other reasons, but they do seem to be dealing with an internal situation.”

Some analysts have said that the delay is due to the damage incurred from floods and typhoons that have hammered North Korea recently. Another government official said they received intelligence that North Korean officials told officials with international bodies residing in North Korea that the party meeting of representatives has been delayed due to the floods. Others feel the congress was delayed when the plan, which was to make the congress a major milestone on the building of a succession structure amidst a festival atmosphere, went awry chaotic public sentiment due to the floods. The 2007 inter-Korean summit was also postponed from August to October due to floods.

North Korea’s state-run KCNA belatedly reported Wednesday that Typhoon Kompasu, which passed through Korea on Sept. 2 as the seventh typhoon to hit Korea this year, killed dozens of people and destroyed about 8,000 homes. Some have viewed this as an attempt to justify the delay of the party congress.

South Korean aid group to North Korea Good Friends, citing a source inside North Korea, said with roads fractured and blocked due to the floods, provincial delegates were arriving late, and with a quorum failing to be reached, the meeting was delayed. Good Friends added that it was also delayed because there is no reason to make official Kim Jong-il’s succession structure by forcing through a party congress without enough delegates.

There are also those who believe the floods and typhoon damage are just outward excuses, and that in fact, there must be an internal situation, such as a problem with Kim Jong-il’s health or tensions within the center of power over the succession structure.

One government source familiar with intelligence on North Korea said, “It appears fine-tuning regarding the reorganization of power is taking place, such as whether Kim Jong-un would take over right away as secretary of organization for the Workers’ Party, or whether Jang Song-thaek would assume that role.”

Regarding Kim’s health, National Intelligence Service Director Won Sei-hoon said at a National Assembly intelligence committee meeting on Monday that Kim’s health was not the reason why the party congress was not being held. In some quarters, there are even those who believe the meetingwas delayed because Kim has not finished preparing the gifts to be handed out to party delegates. Many believe the new time for the meeting of representatives to convene is around Oct. 10, when the party marks its 65th anniversary.


Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]


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