N. Korea to shuffle senior defense figures next month

Posted on : 2014-03-21 17:04 KST Modified on : 2014-03-21 17:04 KST
Apr. 9 plenary session of Supreme People’s Assembly could see next phase of generational shift in leadership

By Park Byong-su, senior staff writer

North Korea announced that it will hold a plenary session of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) on Apr. 9. It is likely that the members of the National Defense Commission (NDC) and other powerful bodies will be shuffled during the plenary session.

On Mar. 20, North Korea’s state-run Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the standing committee of the SPA was summoning deputies of the assembly to Pyongyang on Apr. 9 to attend the first meeting of the 13th plenary session of the assembly. The KCNA added that the standing committee had made this decision on Mar. 12.

North Korea is likely to shuffle the members of the NDC during this session of the SPA. The position of vice chairman is vacant following the execution of the previous vice chairman - Jang Song-thaek - at the end of 2013. In addition, Ri Myong-su, former Minister of People’s Security, and Paek Se-bong, former chairman of the Second Economy Commission, were not elected as deputies.

It is expected that these empty seats will be taken by up-and-coming figures including Jang Jong-nam, minister of the People’s Armed Forces.

In the case of the heads of various government ministries, there are not expected to be any major changes since a number of officials were replaced after Jang Song-thaek’s ouster.

One noteworthy question is whether the North Korean constitution will be revised and whether national agencies will be reorganized. During the fifth session of the SPA in Dec. 1972, North Korea adopted a presidency system. At the 10th session in 1998, it revised the constitution to abolish the State Administration Council (SAC) and set up a cabinet. This reform also turned the NDC into the country’s most powerful body.

On Mar. 9, North Korea held the first election of deputies to the National People’s Assembly since Kim Jong-un took power, with 687 deputies being elected.

The SPA - the governmental body that functions as North Korea’s legislature - is defined in North Korea’s constitution as its supreme sovereign body. It enacts and revises the constitution and laws, and it appoints figures to serve on the NDC, the cabinet, and the assembly’s standing committee.


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