Nine years since being anointed because the Supreme Leader of the authoritarian Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Kim Jong-un has presided over the second party Congress of the ruling Workers Party of Korea (WPK) in his tenure. This was simply the seventh Party Congress for the reason that Workers Party took energy in North Korea in 1948 and eighth total. None had been held between 1980 and 2016, a mirrored image of the character of governance on this single party-ruled state, the place the party exists merely as an prolonged entity of the persona cult that dominates authorities within the nation. But even then, two party Congresses being held since Mr. Kim Jong-un got here to energy signifies a shift from the earlier iteration of the Kim dynasty.
Nominally, an “independent socialist State”, North Korea is an authoritarian dictatorship led by the Kim dynasty with Mr. Kim Jong-un being the third ruler of the nation, succeeding his father Kim Jong-il, who himself got here to energy after the loss of life of his father and the nation’s founding chief Kim Il-sung. Political dynasties operating in the identical household usually are not the protect of dictatorships or monarchies alone, however North Korea is exclusive amongst self-proclaimed socialist international locations in institutionalising it. The hegemony of the WPK is enshrined in its Constitution and Mr. Kim Jong-un because the Chairman of the WPK and the chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK is recognised because the “Supreme Leader” of the nation.
Its governing “Ten principles for the establishment of a monolothic ideological system”, a set of guidelines which have outmoded the Constitution within the authorities’s day-to-day functioning and that are speculated to be memorised by each citizen, embrace a Clause that the “party” and the “revolution” have to be eternally carried ahead by the “Baekdu bloodline” (shorthand for the Kim dynasty).
Little has modified within the political dynamics of the nation that had been set in stone within the later years of rule by Kim Il-Sung. The nominal ideology that governs the party and its rule within the nation stays Juche (self-reliance) and Songun (military-first). Juche attracts from the legacy of Kim Il-sung’s rule throughout which North Korea was a key member of the Socialist bloc and labored in the direction of constructing its economic system with out tying into the world’s capitalist markets and since then morphed into North Korea’s pursuit of strategic autonomy by growing nuclear weapons to counter its key adversary, the U.S. Songun was a guideline enshrined throughout Kim Jong-il’s rule, when the regime emphasised army supremacy, partly to realize the assist of the armed forces to forestall the likelihood of a depoliticised army’s defection that would pre-empt a collapse of the socialist regime, much like the autumn of a number of such regimes on the finish of the Cold War and partly to safe the legitimacy of Kim Jong-il, who lacked any army expertise in contrast to his father.
Juche stays solely on paper, as North Korea is a extremely dependent nation on Chinese imports and help, however there have been useful variations within the implementation of Songun for the reason that demise of Kim Jong-il. The variations can even clarify the conduction of the 2 Workers Party Congresses within the former’s tenure after the final such Congress earlier than 2016 was held in 1980.
Apart from holding the Party Congress, the Kim Jong-un regime has given better emphasis to policy-making course of — convening conferences of the varied management ranges of the WPK. Even if these conferences are largely ceremonial and a method to convey coverage choices from the highest management to the rank and file, the actual fact that they’re being extra commonly convened suggests a useful distinction from the earlier regime led by Kim Jong-il, when even plenary classes of the WPK’s Central Committee weren’t held. Songun can also be by no means talked about in Mr. Kim Jong-un’s speeches, signifying a particular shift from the important thing ideology of the Kim Jong-il regime, with significance accruing extra to the party organisation versus the army.
The WPK retains its position as an organisation that permits for the regime to conduct mass scale surveillance of its citizenry and to reward those that are beneficial to it and subsequently offers it the sting in retaining its authoritarian rule. The distinction in emphasis on retaining management by way of the party relatively than the army can also be a consequence of the regime’s recognition of the distinctive issues of the impoverished nation.
Little is known in regards to the nation’s economic system apart from what’s gleaned from current defectors, largely these have fled the nation as a result of of poverty and satellite tv for pc imagery. Recent scholarly work on North Korea utilizing remote-sensed evening luminosity information estimated excessive ranges of poverty (of round 60%) in addition to divergent incomes throughout areas within the nation.
Mr. Kim Jong-un’s regime appears to be cognisant in regards to the chance of threats to its regime as a result of of this dire financial state of affairs. In the final yr, the COVID-19 world disaster has exacerbated its already fragile economic system, which has been affected badly by pure disasters and the worldwide sanctions imposed on it attributable to its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
In the Congress’ classes thus far, the regime appears to be harping on a self-critique of its financial efforts, in a option to reassure the regime’s adherents of a renewed concentrate on livelihoods even because it continued to emphasize its nuclear brinkmanship. Brinkmanship utilizing nuclear and missile assessments have helped the regime safe commerce and help advantages up to now in addition to shoring up its propaganda picture because the protector of the state towards a hostile enemy, the U.S. On that entrance, expectedly, there’s continuity as a brand new regime led by Joe Biden involves energy within the U.S.
In sum, the dictatorship in North Korea persists with its anachronistic kind of governance and management over a flailing economic system even because it adopts completely different means to attain continuity.