Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea
The Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea is the highest party body between WPK national meetings. According to WPK rules, the Central Committee is elected by the party congress and the party conference can be conferred the right to renew its membership composition. In practice, the Central Committee has the ability to dismiss and appoint new members without consulting with the wider party at its own plenary sessions; the 1st Central Committee was elected at the 1st WPK Congress in 1946. It was composed of 43-members; the numbers of Central Committee members have increased since with the 7th Congress in 2017 electing 235-members. Non-voting members referred to as alternate members at the present, was introduced at the 2nd Congress; the Central Committee convenes at least once a year for a plenary session, shall function as a top forum for discussion about relevant policy issues. It operates on the principle of the Great Leader theory; the role of the Central Committee has varied throughout history.
In its early history until the August Faction Incident it was a forum in which different factions competed. Since it has exercises power through formal procedures defined in the party rules. However, its actual ability to affect outcomes of national-level personnel decisions is non-existent, as that function has been, in practice, carried out by the Kim family and the Politburo. Nonetheless, Central Committee plenums function as venues whereby policy is formally implemented and public announcements made. Decisions are released publicly in the form of "resolutions" or "decisions"; the Central Committee was established at the 1st Congress. It was composed of 43-members, has since expanded at all congresses. From 1948 to 1961 an average of 2.4 meetings per year were held, about the same rate as the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Meetings held during this period did not exceed one day; the Central Committee's power lay not in how it met but in its apparatus. Controlled by the Politburo rather than the Central Committee, the apparatus was the nominal government of North Korea under Kim Il-sung.
The Central Committee was not convened for a plenary session between 1993 and 2010. It was a 37-year intervall between the 7th Congress; the Central Committee and its apparatus was weakened under Kim Jong-il, with several offices remaining unfilled. Beginning in 2005 he took several steps to revitalize the party, appointing senior officials to new posts. Pak Nam Gi was appointed head of the Planning and Finance Department, Jang Song-thaek was appointed head of the Administrative Department. Overseeing all security matters, Jang was indirectly restored to his duties and responsibilities as head of the Organization and Guidance Department; the 3rd Conference of Representatives renewed the composition of the Central Committee. The party congress elects the Central Committee; the election process, its appointment, is dismissed as rubber stamp. The common belief is that the composition of the Central Committee has been decided upon in advance by the previous Central Committee and/or the Politburo, that the election process is rigged.
The WPK charter defines the party as "the party of the Great Leader", stresses that the party is subordinate to the Great Leader. This influences the party's internal procedures and its electoral process as the party has to be loyal to the Great Leader; the Charter prescribes that the size of the central committee is determined by the congress presidium. The Central Committee Plenary Session is empowered to renew its rank if "necessary". Candidates can be nominated by the provincial committees, but the Central Committee through the Organization and Guidance Department has the final say. In between sessions of party congresses and conferences, the Central Committee is the highest WPK institution, it is not a permanent body and, according to the WPK Charter, shall convene at least once a year. The Politburo summons the Central Committee for plenary sessions. A plenary session shall consist of, according to the WPK Charter and deciding on "important issues of the party" and its empowered to elect the Politburo and its Presidium, Executive Policy Bureau, the Central Military Commission, the Control Commission, WPK vice-chairmen, heads of CC departments and lower-level provincial posts.
It was empowered to elect the party's leader. It can elevate alternate, non-voting members to full members, appoint new voting and non-voting members to the Central Committee at its plenary sessions; the Politburo the Political Committee, was the main decision-making body of the WPK until the establishment of the Presidium. The Politburo has full and candidate members, is the highest WPK decision-making body when it convenes for meetings; until the 3rd Conference, the Politburo was elected by the Central Committee after a congress. Although the party charter specifies that the Politburo should meet at least once a month, there is little evidence that this happens. Politburo members may serve concurrently on party or state commissions, the government or the Central Committee apparatus. Evidence suggests that the Politburo functions much like the CPSU Politburo under Stalin, with Politburo members acting as the party leader's personal staff rather than as policy-makers; this wasn't always the case.
Since Kim Il-sung's c
Songun is the "military first" policy of North Korea, prioritizing the Korean People's Army in the affairs of state and allocation of resources. "Military first" as a principle guides political and economic life in North Korea, with "military-first politics" dominating the political system. Songun elevates the Korean People's Army within North Korea as an organization and as a state function, granting it the primary position in the North Korean government and society, it guides international interactions. It is the framework for the government, designating the military as the "supreme repository of power"; the government grants the Korean People's Army the highest economic and resource-allocation priority and positions it as the model for society to emulate. Songun is the ideological concept behind a shift in policies since 1994 which emphasize the people's military over all other aspects of state and society; the roots of Songun are traced to Kim Il-sung's guerilla activities against the Japanese during the 1930s.
The Songun era began in 1960 when a young Kim Jong-il, together with his father Kim Il-sung, visited the Seoul 105th Guards Armored Division HQ in Pyongyang on 25 August. It was the first of Kim Jong-il's many visits to various Korean People's Army installations across North Korea. 25 August is now the Day of Songun. Songun did not appear as an official government policy until after Kim Il-sung's death in 1994. In 1995, "military first" policies were introduced as "a revolutionary idea of attaching great importance to the army" and as "a politics emphasizing the perfect unity and the single-hearted unity of the party and the people, the role of the army as the vanguards" in the wake of Kim Jong-il's first military unit visit for that year; this was a shift from the government's previous guiding policy, Kim Il-sung's Juche, or self-reliance policy. In 1997, an editorial published in Rodong Sinmun, the Workers' Party of North Korea official newspaper, stated: "Never before have the status and role of the People's Army been so extraordinarily elevated as today when it is being led energetically by the Respected and Beloved Comrade Supreme Commander".
By this point, the People's Army had become "synonymous with the people, the state, the party". Together, all of this indicates not only the centrality of Kim Jong-il to the Songun ideology, but its increasing rhetorical centrality to the state and society. In 1998, Songun began appearing in conjunction with other terms, including "military-first revolutionary idea", "military-first revolutionary leadership" and "military-first politics", expanding the concept of Songun into more aspects of North Korean governance. Songun became an more prominent concept in January 1999, making its first appearance in the important New Year's Day editorial published jointly by all the major news organs of North Korea; the editorial tied Songun with Kim Jong-il by declaring that he practiced military-first leadership, "one in which the People's Army serves as the main force of revolution and in which the unity of the army and the people helps to safeguard as well as build socialism". In foreign language publications, the translated term "army-first" substituted for Songun between 1999 and 2006, after which the Korean term has been used exclusively.
In January 2003, the New Year's editorial added military-first ideology to the pantheon of military-first concepts. In December 2003, the "Essential Attributes of Military-First Politics" was published as a new vision of the driving force of the revolution in the quasi-communist North Korea, it assigned the main force of the revolution to the Korean People's Army. This is a role that in Communist states is traditionally assigned to the proletariat, or in China to the peasantry. However, for North Korea "only the army meets the criteria of loyalty, revolutionary spirit and esprit de corps". January 2004 saw another increase in the reach of Songun as it was mentioned more than any other word in the New Year's editorial and was used to describe everything from politics to Korea itself. Songun has continued to expand in importance and is now included in the ideological discussion of reunification with South Korea; the North Korean press stated: "ongun politics is the guarantee that will secure the re-unification of the Fatherland".
North Korea credits Songun with safeguarding the peace on the peninsula and claims that it is the only thing preventing the United States from attacking North Korea. Songun has become intrinsic to North Korea's domestic politics, foreign policy and decision-making, making a place alongside Juche as a guiding principle of the regime; the Songun ideology is derived from the four military lines policy implemented by Kim Il-sung in 1962. The doctrine aim was to arm the entire population, fortify the entire state, train every soldier to become a cadre and modernize the entire military sector. However, the idea that nation's independence and prosperity is dependent on being organized and well armed was laid out by Kim il Sung's guerrilla fighting against the Japanese during the 1930s. Two reasons have been offered as to why after Kim Il-sung's death North Korea shifted to Songun as a major ideology. One strand of the debate points to North Korea's desire to increase its military strength due to its precarious international position.
In this sense, Songun is perceived as an aggressive, threatening move to increase the strength of the North Korean military at the expense of other parts of society. This argument often points to the series of crises that befell North Korea in the early 1990s, beginning
7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea
The 7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea, the ruling party of North Korea, was held on 6–9 May 2016. The 7th Congress was the first Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea held since the 6th Congress in 1980, despite party rules stipulating that Congresses be held every four years; the purpose of the Congress was to review the party's work from the time period since the 6th Congress, but to instill public loyalty toward the leadership of the country. On 30 October 2015, the Korean Central News Agency reported that the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea announced a decision to hold a Congress in early May 2016, saying: The Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee decides to convene the 7th Congress of the WPK early in May Juche 105, reflecting the demand of the party and the developing revolution that witness epoch-making changes in accomplishing the revolutionary cause of Juche, the cause of building a thriving socialist nation. On 17 February 2016 joint slogans were issued by Workers' Party of Korea's Central Military Commission and Central Committee, they were published by Rodong Sinmun and KCNA.
The Congress was preceded by a "70-day battle" mass mobilization campaign. Human Right Watch claims that the campaign meant uncompensated and forced labor for people across the country, including children, that the object of the campaign was to boost outputs in manufacture and agriculture and demonstrate loyalty. A five-day holiday was declared for the duration of the Congress; the Congress was opened on 6 May 2016 at the April 25 House of Culture in Pyongyang, in the presence of 3,467 voting delegates. Unlike the last congress, there were no major foreign delegations, but 128 foreign journalists from 12 countries were allowed to cover the event. Reporters were kept outside of the venue, a recording of the opening event was only televised in the evening; the Congress opened with an address by Kim Jong-un. In it, he praised satellite launch. After having chosen its presidium and secretariat, the Congress approved its agenda: Review of the work of the 6th WPK Central Committee Review of the work of the WPK Central Auditing Commission Revision of the WPK Charter Election of Kim Jong-un to the leadership of the WPK Election of members to the central leadership organs of the WPKThe Congress continued on 7 May with Kim Jong-un's report on the work of the 6th Central Committee.
In the report, Kim Jong-un reiterated the country's nuclear policy, calling it "a responsible nuclear weapons state". According to Kim, North Korea would not use nuclear weapons. With regards to the economy, Kim announced the country's first Five-Year Plan since the 1980s. Speeches by other delegates expressed support for Kim's report. A decision on approving Kim's report was unanimously adopted on 9 May. In it, the party vowed to continue building a more extensive nuclear arsenal. A report on the work of the Central Auditing Commission was heard. On the 9th, foreign journalists were let in the Congress venue for the first time, during the announcement of Kim Jong-un's election as Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea; the Congress ended on the 9th, the day saw a huge parade in Pyongyang in its honor. On May 9, Kim Jong-un was re-elected to the leadership of the party, his title in this capacity was changed from First Secretary to Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, a title reminiscent of that held by Kim Il-sung until 1966: Chairman of the WPK Central Committee.15 members were elected to the 7th Central Auditing Commission: Choe Sung-ho, Pak Myong-sun, Kim Kyong-nam, Hwang Chol-sik, Kim Yong-chol, Ri Yong-ik, Kim Myong-hun, Kye Yong-sam, Jo Jong-ho, Kye Myong-chol, Jang Jong-ju, Pho Hui-song, Jong Pong-sok, Choe Kwon-su and Ho Kwang-uk.
The Commission soon convened and chose as its Chairman Choe Sung-ho and Vice-Chairwoman Pak Myong-sun. 129 members and 106 alternate members were elected to the 7th Central Committee, including Kim Jong-un. It held its first plenum after the Congress, on 10 May, elected officials. "Photos and articles on Naenara". Archived from the original on 27 May 2016. Retrieved 4 January 2017. Photos from the opening day at Rodong Sinmun Kim Jong-un's opening address at KCNA Watch Text from Kim Jong Un's Report before the Congress at KCNA Watch Documents from the 7th Workers' Party Congress at The National Committee on North Korea
Elections in North Korea
Elections in North Korea are held every four-to-five years for the Supreme People's Assembly, the country's national legislature, every four years for Local People's Assemblies. All seats are won by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland; the Workers' Party of Korea dominates the Front and holds 87.5% of the seats, with 7.4% for the Korean Social Democratic Party, 3.2% for the Chondoist Chongu Party, 1.9% for independent deputies. According to official reports, turnout is near 100%, approval of the Democratic Front's candidates is unanimous or nearly so. In reply to a question put forth by Michael Marshall, Li Chun Sik of North Korea stated at a meeting of the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments of the Inter-Parliamentary Union: While candidates could be nominated by anyone, it was the practice for all candidates to be nominated by the parties; these nominations were examined by the United Reunification Front and by the Central Electoral Committee, which allocated candidates to seats.
The candidate in each seat was considered by the electors in meetings at the workplace or similar, on election day the electors could indicate approval or disapproval of the candidate on the ballot paper. Only one candidate appears on each ballot. Elections are ostensibly conducted by secret ballot, a voter may cross off the candidate's name to vote against him/her, but must do so by crossing out the name without secrecy. Voting is mandatory and turnout is habitually near 100%. Members of the Supreme People's Assembly are elected to five-year terms, meet for SPA sessions up to ten days per year; the Supreme People's Assembly elects a standing committee known as the Presidium, which exercises legislative functions when the Assembly is not in session. It elects the Chairman of the National Defence Commission, the country's chief executive, the Premier. Local elections have been held since 1999; the people elect representatives to city and provincial people's assemblies in local elections every four years.
The number of representatives is determined by the population of each jurisdiction. Mayors and governors are elected, their role is to work with the unelected and more influential province party secretaries. The elections have been variously described as a political census. Seats are uncompetitive as all candidates are chosen by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland; because of the near-100% turnout, elections double as unofficial censuses. The inminban neighborhood watch watches the elections to identify and investigate no-shows. A voter may cross off the candidate's name to vote against him or her, but in most polling stations the voter must do so with a red pen next to the ballot box in sight of electoral officials. In recent elections, there have been separate boxes for "no" votes. Many North Korean defectors claim. Indeed, voting against the official candidate is considered an act of treason, those who do face the loss of their jobs and housing, along with extra surveillance.
The latest election was the first conducted under the leadership of Kim Jong-un following the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011. Summary of the 9 March 2014 North Korea Supreme People's Assembly election results The last election conducted under the leadership of Kim Jong-il was held on March 8, 2009; the following day, North Korean media announced that he was unanimously re-elected to parliament, though none of his sons were among the appointments. The election committee stated that 99.98% of all registered voters took part in voting, with 100% voting for their candidate in each district. All seats were won by the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, under the control of the Worker's Party. Politics of North Korea List of political parties in North Korea Video of elections, including ballots used on YouTube Elections in North Korea on YouTube
Foreign relations of North Korea
The foreign relations of North Korea – the Democratic People's Republic of Korea – have been shaped by its conflict with capitalist countries like South Korea and its historical ties with world communism. Both the government of the DPRK and the government of South Korea claim to be the government of the whole of Korea; the Korean War in the 1950s failed to resolve the issue, leaving the DPRK locked in a military confrontation with South Korea and the United States Forces Korea across the Demilitarized Zone. At the start of the Cold War, the DPRK only had diplomatic recognition by Communist countries. Over the following decades, it established relations with developing countries and joined the Non-Aligned Movement; when the Eastern Bloc collapsed in the years 1989–1991, the DPRK made efforts to improve its diplomatic relations with developed capitalist countries. At the same time, there were international efforts to resolve the confrontation on the Korean peninsula; when North Korea acquired nuclear weapons after the demise of the Soviet Union, its main economic backer.
North Korea is considered a rogue state, is not signatory to the Non-proliferation treaty —in fact, it was an acceder to the treaty, which it had violated, but withdrew in 2003 after banishing the International Atomic Energy Agency. Its nuclear program is seen as part of North Korea's strategy of "nuclear coercion", which analysts have posed in terms of North Korea's regime survival. In 2018, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made a sudden peace overture towards South Korea and the United States; this led to the first face-to-face discussion between the Supreme Leader of North Korea and a sitting United States President. This is known as the 2018 Korean peace process; the Constitution of the DPRK establishes the country's foreign policy. While Article 2 of the constitution describes the country as a "revolutionary state," Article 9 says that the country will work to achieve Korean reunification, maintain state sovereignty and political independence, "national unity."Many articles outline the country's foreign policy.
Article 15 says that the country will "protect the democratic national rights of Korean compatriots overseas and their legitimate rights and interests as recognized by international law" and Article 17 explicates the basic ideals of the country's foreign policy: Basic ideals of their foreign policy are "independence and friendship" Establishment of political, economic and diplomatic relations with "friendly countries" on the principles of "complete equality, mutual respect, non-interference in each other’s affairs and mutual benefit." Unifying with "peoples of the world who defend their independence" Actively supporting and encouraging "struggle of all people who oppose all forms of aggression and interference and fight for their countries' independence and national and class emancipation."Other parts of the constitution explicate other foreign policies. Article 36 says that foreign trade by the DPRK will be conducted "by state organs and social, cooperative organizations" while the country will "develop foreign trade on the principles of complete equality and mutual benefit."
Article 37 adds that the country will encourage "institutions and organizations in the country to conduct equity or contractual joint ventures with foreign corporations and individuals, to establish and operate enterprises of various kinds in special economic zones." Furthermore, Article 38 says that the DPRK will implement a protectionist tariff policy "to protect the independent national economy" while Article 59 says the country's armed forces will "carry out the military-first revolutionary line." In terms of other foreign policy, Article 80 says that the country will grant asylum to foreign nationals who have been persecuted "for struggling for peace and democracy, national independence and socialism or for the freedom of scientific and cultural pursuits."Ultimately, however, as explicated in Articles 100–103 and 109, the chairman of the National Defense Commission is the supreme leader of the country, with a term, the same as members of the Supreme People's Assembly or SPA, as is established in article 90, directing the country's armed forces, guiding overall state affairs, but is not determined by him alone since he is still accountable to the SPA.
Rather, the NDC chairman works to defend the state from external actors. Kim Jong-un, is the Chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the NDC, holder of numerous other leadership positions; the Constitution delineates, in article 117, that the President of SPA Presidium, which can convene this assembly, represents the state and receives "credentials and letters of recall from envoys accredited by other countries." Additionally, the cabinet of the DPRK has the authority to "conclude treaties with foreign countries and conduct external affairs" as noted in Article 125. The DPRK is one of the few countries in which the giving of presents still plays a significant role in diplomatic protocol, with Korean Central News Agency reporting from time to time the country's leader received a floral basket or other gift from a foreign leader or organization. During a 2000 visit to Pyongyang, U. S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gave North Korean leader Kim Jong-il a basketball signed by Michael Jordan, as he took an interest in NBA basketball.
During the 2000 inter-Korean summit, Kim Jong-il made a gift of two Pungsan dogs to South Korean president Kim Dae-jung. In return, Kim Dae-jung gave two Jindo dogs (associated with the
Workers' Party of Korea
The Workers' Party of Korea is the founding and ruling political party of North Korea. It is the largest party represented in the Supreme People's Assembly and coexists de jure with two other legal parties making up the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland. However, these minor parties are subservient to the WPK, must accept the WPK's "leading role" as a condition of their existence, it was founded in 1949 with the merger of the Workers' Party of North Korea and the Workers' Party of South Korea. The WPK controls the Korean People's Army; this political party remains illegal in South Korea under South Korea's own National Security Act and is sanctioned by Australia, the European Union, the United Nations and the United States. The WPK is organized according to the Monolithic Ideological System and the Great Leader, a system and theory conceived by Kim Yong-ju and Kim Jong-il; the highest body of the WPK is formally the Congress, but in practice a Congress occurs infrequently.
Between 1980 and 2016, there were no congresses held. Although the WPK is organizationally similar to communist parties, in practice it is far less institutionalized and informal politics plays a larger role than usual. Institutions such as the Central Committee, the Executive Policy Bureau, the Central Military Commission, the Politburo and the Politburo's Presidium have much less power than that formally bestowed on them by the party's charter, little more than a nominal document. Kim Jong-un is the current WPK leader, serving as CMC chairman; the WPK is committed to Juche, an ideology, described as a combination of collectivism and nationalism. At the 3rd Conference, the WPK removed a sentence from the preamble expressing the party's commitment "to building a communist society", replacing it with a new adherence to Songun, "military-first" policies; the 2009 revision had removed all references to communism. Party ideology has focused on perceived imperialist enemies of the party and state.
Before the rise of Juche and Songun, the party was committed to Marxist–Leninist thought as well, with its importance becoming diminished over time. The party's emblem is an adaptation of the communist hammer and sickle, with a traditional Korean calligraphy brush; the symbols represent the industrial workers and intellectuals. On 13 October 1945, the North Korean Bureau of the Communist Party of Korea was established, with Kim Yong-bom its first chairman. However, the NKB–CPK remained subordinate to the CPK Central Committee. Two months at the 3rd Plenum of the NKB, Kim Yong-bom was replaced by Kim Il-sung. In spring 1946 the North Korean Bureau became the Communist Party of North Korea, with Kim Il-sung its elected chairman. On 22 July 1946 Soviet authorities in North Korea established the United Democratic National Front, a popular front led by the Communist Party of North Korea; the Communist Party of North Korea soon merged with the New People's Party of Korea, a party composed of communists from China.
On 28 July 1946 a special commission of the two parties ratified the merger, it became official the following day. One month the party held its founding congress, establishing the Workers' Party of North Korea; the congress elected former leader of the New People's Party of Korea Kim Tu-bong as the first WPNK chairman, with Kim Il-sung its appointed deputy chairman. However, despite his formal downgrade in the party's hierarchy Kim Il-sung remained its leader. Party control increased throughout the country after the congress. From 27–30 March 1948, the WPNK convened its 2nd Congress. While Kim Tu-bong was still the party's formal head, Kim Il-sung presented the main report to the congress. In it he claimed. On 28 April 1948 a special session of the Supreme People's Assembly approved the constitution, which led to the official establishment of an independent North Korea, it did not call for a unified Korea. Kim Il-sung was the appointed head of government of the new state, with Kim Tu-bong heading the legislative branch.
A year on 30 June 1949, the Workers' Party of Korea was created with the merger of the WPNK and the Workers' Party of South Korea. Kim Il-sung was not the most ardent supporter of a military reunification of Korea. After several meetings with Joseph Stalin, the North Koreans invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950—this began the Korean War. With American intervention in the war the DPRK nearly collapsed, but it was saved by Chinese intervention in the conflict; the war had the effect of weakening Soviet influence over Kim Il-sung and the WPK. Around this time, the main fault lines in early WPK politics were created. Four factions formed: domestic, Soviet Koreans and guerrillas. Howe
Kim Jong-il was the second leader of North Korea. He ruled from the death of his father Kim Il-sung, the first leader of North Korea, in 1994 until his own death in 2011, he was an unelected dictator and was accused of human rights violations. Kim was born in Vyatskoye, Russia part of the Soviet Union. By the early 1980s, Kim had become the heir apparent for the leadership of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and assumed important posts in the party and army organs. Kim succeeded his father and DPRK founder, Kim Il-sung, following the elder Kim's death in 1994. Kim was the General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, WPK Presidium, Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea and the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, the fourth-largest standing army in the world. During Kim's rule, the country had a poor human rights record. Kim involved his country in state terrorism and strengthened the role of the military by his Songun politics. Kim's rule saw tentative economic reforms, including the opening of the Kaesong Industrial Park in 2003.
In April 2009, North Korea's constitution was amended to refer to him and his successors as the "supreme leader of the DPRK". The most common colloquial title given to Kim was "Dear Leader" to distinguish him from his father Kim Il-sung, the "Great Leader". Following Kim's failure to appear at important public events in 2008, foreign observers assumed that Kim had either fallen ill or died. On 19 December 2011, the North Korean government announced that he had died two days earlier, whereupon his third son, Kim Jong-un, was promoted to a senior position in the ruling WPK and succeeded him. After his death, Kim was designated the "Eternal General Secretary" of the WPK and the "Eternal Chairman of the National Defence Commission", in keeping with the tradition of establishing eternal posts for the dead members of the Kim dynasty. Soviet records show that Kim was born Yuri Irsenovich Kim in 1941 in the village of Vyatskoye, near Khabarovsk, where his father, Kim Il-sung, commanded the 1st Battalion of the Soviet 88th Brigade, made up of Chinese and Korean exiles.
Kim Jong-il's mother, Kim Jong-suk, was Kim Il-sung's first wife. Inside his family, he was nicknamed "Yura", while his younger brother Kim Man-il was nicknamed "Shura". However, Kim Jong-il's official biography states he was born in a secret military camp on Paektu Mountain in Japanese-occupied Korea on 16 February 1942. According to one comrade of Kim's mother, Lee Min, word of Kim's birth first reached an army camp in Vyatskoye via radio and that both Kim and his mother did not return there until the following year. In 1945, Kim was four years old when World War II ended and Korea regained independence from Japan, his father returned to Pyongyang that September, in late November Kim returned to Korea via a Soviet ship, landing at Sonbong. The family moved into a former Japanese officer's mansion with a garden and pool. Kim Jong-il's brother drowned there in 1948. Reports indicate that his mother died in childbirth in 1949. According to his official biography, Kim completed the course of general education between September 1950 and August 1960.
He attended Middle School No. 1 in Pyongyang. This is contested by foreign academics, who believe he is more to have received his early education in the People's Republic of China as a precaution to ensure his safety during the Korean War. Throughout his schooling, Kim was involved in politics, he was active in the Korean Children's Union and the Democratic Youth League of North Korea, taking part in study groups of Marxist political theory and other literature. In September 1957 he became vice-chairman of his middle school's DYL branch, he pursued a programme of anti-factionalism and attempted to encourage greater ideological education among his classmates. Kim is said to have received English language education in Malta in the early 1970s on his infrequent holidays there as a guest of Prime Minister Dom Mintoff; the elder Kim had another son, Kim Pyong-il. Since 1988, Kim Pyong-il has served in a series of North Korean embassies in Europe and was the North Korean ambassador to Poland. Foreign commentators suspect that Kim Pyong-il was sent to these distant posts by his father in order to avoid a power struggle between his two sons.
By the time of the Sixth Party Congress in October 1980, Kim Jong-il's control of the Party operation was complete. He was given senior posts in the Military Commission and the party Secretariat. According to his official biography, the WPK Central Committee had anointed him successor to Kim Il-sung in February 1974; when he was made a member of the Seventh Supreme People's Assembly in February 1982, international observers deemed him the heir apparent of North Korea. Prior to 1980, he had no public profile and was referred to only as the "Party Centre". At this time Kim assumed the title "Dear Leader", the government began building a personality cult around him patterned after that of his father, the "Great Leader". Kim Jong-il was hailed by the media as the "fearless leader" and "the great successor to the revolutionary cause", he emerged as the most powerful figure behind his father in North Korea. On 24 December 1991, Kim was named Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army. Defence Minister Oh Jin-wu, one of Kim Il-sung's mo