North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is making his country’s government less like a dictator’s playground and more like an organization that can handle multiple crises at once.
According to reports this week CNN, Reuters, and other media outlets, Kim appointed a de facto second-in-command in January to help lead the country’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. As “First Secretary”, Kim himself held a title from 2012 to 2016 (he assumed the larger role of “General SecretaryIn January 2021), this as-yet-unknown person will serve as Autocratic’s “representative” for WPK.
Experts said that this man would not actually be North Korea’s second-in-command. This is the role of the executive secretary at best, who has the authority to handle the day-to-day affairs of the party, but does not have the power to take important decisions without the boss’s say.
“It means no change” [Kim’s] position as supreme leader of North Korea, but it would mean a change in his leadership style,” said Rachel Minyoung Lee, a Seoul-based fellow at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington DC. In fact, “Kim has technically always been ‘second-in-command’ in every party, state and military institution,” she said.
The new, and unprecedented role, isn’t really about giving more authority to some already prominent North Korean officials. Rather, it is Kim’s latest reform to ensure that his regime can handle all of the state’s affairs without his consistent, direct input.
“This should suggest to us that Kim is doing things internally,” said Ken Goes, director of the anti-analytics program at Virginia-based think tank CNA. “He’s changing this regime and making it a more general organization.”
Why Kim is reforming his government
Experts said Kim has previously made major changes under North Korea’s leadership, including measures to rein in influential regime bodies, namely in the security apparatus and Shady Organization & Guidance Department.
Previously, when Kim’s grandfather and father ran North Korea, uniforms and other high-level officials influenced the country’s direction. the ruling family, sometimes concerned that some of them were plotting a coup or taking too much power for themselves, sometimes their brutal execution.
Therefore, changing the leadership structure of North Korea is not necessarily new for Kim. But few are certain why he now authorized a new First Secretary, although analysts have some ideas.
The first is that North Korea is facing many crises, devastating coronavirus outbreak to do crushing economic collapse. To handle only those two problems, let alone all the challenges facing the country, Kim cannot follow the old playbook of making every single policy decision. Now it seems that he wants to set the strategic direction for the nation by telling his ally what he wants and relying on them to make strategic decisions.
This has the added bonus of hinting to the outside world that Kim is a reformer with modern ideas. “We should see this as an attempt to make North Korea’s Kim appear like a ‘normal’ leader who rules through and with the party and not a lone dictator,” said Stimson Lee, who It also said that “in recent months, party officials other than top North Korean Kim Jong Un have led some party meetings.”
second that Kim has long said that she wants North Korea’s economy recovers. But the problem, CNA’s Gouge told me, is that any changes Kim makes will not last long if the government is unable to carry on without his continued input. Having a trusted official to help oversee the steps she takes could help turn Kim’s economic dream into reality. Regarding the North Korean regime, Gage said, “If they continue as before, they will fail.” “They’re maturing and they’re changing.”
The third reason could be long term play. It’s an open secret that Kim has health problems – He is overweight, and a smoker. Gauge suggested that Kim wanted to make sure he had a government that could continue to function if he died prematurely. This does not mean that he is planning North Korea without a member of the Kim family in charge, but rather that he can envision a regime capable of functioning even in the temporary absence of a dictator.
In my book “The Great Successor” I wrote that Kim Jong Un’s biggest risk factor was his apparent poor health – and especially his risk of cardiovascular problems.
Kim Jong Un is five feet, seven inches tall, and weighs about three hundred pounds = a BMI of 45, or “extremely fat”. pic.twitter.com/04EsZfuues
— Anna Fifield (@annafifield) April 21, 2020
As of now, it is not clear who will assume the position of First Secretary. Most experts believe it would be Kim’s confidant and someone serving on the five-member Presidium, a committee made up of top members of the ruling party. report suggestion jo yong won, who is close to Kim and is believed to be in her mid-60s, may or may already have a job.
Put together, this all means two major things: Kim seems to have the future of his nation in mind, and he has immense confidence in his leadership. He’s not giving up his power – he’s putting it to the side.
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