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End of war declaration could come before complete denuclearization: ROK minister, By Dagyum Ji
Cho Myoung-gyon says formal end to conflict possible if DPRK takes “sincere measures”
The two Koreas and the U.S. could declare an end to the Korean War before Pyongyang’s complete denuclearization, the South’s unification minister said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a policy briefing at the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee, Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon said discussions between the two Koreas and the U.S. have sought to declare the formal end of the Korean war within the year.
“I think we can declare the end to the war… before the North achieves complete denuclearization,” he said.
The unification minister explained that a declaration of the end to the war could be possible “if the North takes sincere measures” to denuclearize, citing the dismantlement of the Punggye-ri nuclear test ground and reported scaling-down of facilities at the Sohae Satellite launch site as recent examples of the DPRK’s good faith.
Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the North’s Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), told Cho that Pyongyang had prepared for the destruction of a missile test site in accordance with the DPRK-U.S. agreement in June, the minister said.
The two officials held talks in early July, when a South Korean delegation led by Cho visited Pyongyang for a series of inter-Korean basketball matches.When asked on Tuesday if the reported dismantlement of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station could be a precondition for the declaration, Cho said a “comprehensive judgment is required” before providing an answer.
“The government’s clear stance is that the declaration of the end to the war is necessary at the current stage to provide the impetus for the North’s denuclearization and to start discussions on the peace regime,” the minister told lawmakers.
Cho’s comments appear to partially contradict a statement by the U.S. State Department on Monday, in which a spokesperson told the South’s Yonhap News Agency that “a peace mechanism with the goal of replacing the Armistice agreement” could only be possible “when North Korea has denuclearized.”
The Moon administration has strived to speed up negotiations between the DPRK and the U.S. “through multiple channels,” Cho said on Tuesday.
When asked why the DPRK-U.S. negotiation remain deadlocked, the minister told lawmakers time was needed to create a favorable atmosphere for diplomacy considering “70 years of hostile relations” and the severity of the nuclear issue.“North Korea has put various efforts to achieve the denuclearization and resolve the nuclear issue in its own way,” Cho said.
“It appears that North Korea judges that its counterpart’s measures are insufficient.”Pyongyang hopes that the U.S. will provide with a “concrete proposal” regarding its June pledge to give the North security guarantees, he added.
The MOU said it will use the office for discussions on forest, railway, and road cooperation and Seoul’s “New Economic Map Initiative of the Korean peninsula” plans, before expanding the scope of the discussion to inter-Korean relations.
“We will expand and develop [the joint inter-Korean liaison office] to permanent representative office in Seoul and Pyongyang considering the progress in the improvement of inter-Korean relations,” the report said.
Cho also on Tuesday told lawmakers the UN sanctions committee had granted an exemption to the South Korean government to repair facilities at Mount Kumgang for a planned reunion event of separated families in August.
North Korea “dismantling” the Sohae satellite launch site: what to make of the reports, By Ankit Panda
Overinterpreting Pyongyang’s actions and intentions remains perilous
Satellite imagery published on Monday by Joe Bermudez at 38 North provides a first look at ongoing site dismantlement activity at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station.
This site, also known as Tongchang-ri, is where all North Korean space launches in the Kim Jong Un era, beginning with the April 2012 launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite on the Unha-3.
Mystery U.S. cargo plane flew to Pyongyang for “routine” purposes: official, By Chad O’Carroll
“Hercules” aircraft facilitated crew change for Pompeo’s State Department mission, source says
A United States Air Force (U.S.A.F) C-130J-30 cargo plane that left Pyongyang’s Sunan International airport at 0413 on July 7 for Yokota airbase in Japan did so for “routine” reasons, a U.S. government source confirmed to NK News on Tuesday.
It was one of two rare flights captured on an Instagram user’s photo of the departure board at Pyongyang Sunan airport on the morning of July 7, the other being SAM674 to Tokyo, a U.S.A.F Boeing 757 which took Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s team to Japan for consultations after meetings with North Korean counterparts.
“The mission to which you refer was part of the routine support for the State department mission,” a U.S. official told NK News on Tuesday about the mystery cargo plane movement earlier in the month.
The normally Yokota-based Hercules flew to Pyongyang to facilitate an early-hours crew-change for Pompeo’s Boeing 757, the official explained, confirming what a second source had told NK News on condition of anonymity.
“For additional information, I would refer you to the State Department,” the U.S. official said.The State Department, however, had previously been unable to explain the rare flight movement, despite notable interest in the story when first covered by MHI-NK News.
“We have nothing to share with you on this subject at this time,” a State Department spokesperson said on July 9 when asked about the purpose of the unusual cargo plane flight.In terms of capacity, the stretch-modified C-130J-30 can carry either passengers – up to 128 combat-equipped troops – or cargo – a maximum of eight 463L pallets – according to the Air Force Technology website.
As a result, it would have had the capacity to fly out the remains of prisoners of war (POWs) or those missing in action (MIA) from the Korean War, a step that was seen as a key part of June 12’s Singapore Summit agreement between the U.S. and North Korea.
It is unclear if Pompeo’s first two trips to Pyongyang were also accompanied by secondary crew-change flights supported by Yokota airbase.Flight data for military flights in and out of the DPRK is rare.
Seoul to reduce troops, equipment at DMZ ahead of “full-scale withdrawal”: MND, By Dagyum Ji
ROK military says it will maintain its “core capabilities” against threat from Pyongyang, however
The South Korean defense ministry on Tuesday said it will reduce the ROK’s troops and equipment at guard posts along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in stages, while pledging to build “core capabilities” against the North’s missile and nuclear arsenal “as planned.”
At a plenary session of the National Assembly’s defense committee, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced plans to withdraw military forces on the heavily fortified border, as part of broader steps towards implementing April’s Panmunjom Declaration.
“We will push forward the plan to withdraw forces and equipment of the guard posts within the DMZ on a trial basis as a substantive measure to transform the DMZ into a peace zone, and expand it by stages,” a ministry report submitted to the National Defense Committee and carried by local outlets reads.
The defense ministry also said the “plan for the full-scale withdrawal” of troops and equipment from historical sites and ecological research areas will go ahead – on a trial basis – following the pull out of guard post forces.
April’s Panmunjom Declaration saw Seoul and Pyongyang agree to transform the DMZ into the peace zone “by ceasing as of May 1 this year all hostile acts and eliminating their means.”
As the result of the agreement, the two Koreas have reportedly removed loudspeakers in the areas along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), while Seoul has prevented activists from sending anti-regime leaflets across the border.
Tuesday saw the defense ministry say it has pursued the demilitarization of the joint security area (JSA) as part of a pilot project to change the DMZ into a peace region – agreed to at inter-Korean general-level military talks last month.
Under that agreement, the South Korean military will seek to reduce the size of guard personnel, reduce the deployment of firearms, and work towards establishing freedom of movement in the region.
The MND also said it would pursue joint recovery operation (JRO) with the U.S. and North Korea, explaining that Seoul would assist in the excavation of American POW/MIA remains “if necessary.”The recovery of those remains was a key component of June’s Singapore agreement between U.S. President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.
A U.S. military official previously confirmed to MHI-NK News that Washington was preparing for the North to transfer an unspecified number of remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War within the next couple of weeks.
Tuesday’s meeting also saw the ROK defense ministry insist that it would “push ahead with the establishment of the military’s core capabilities in preparation for North Korean nuclear and missiles threats as planned.”In the report, the military said it has allocated an “adequate share of the budget” to its five-year defense plan from 2019 to 2023.
The plan will see Seoul seek to complete the anti-North Korea three-axis defense system, which include the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike program, Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plans.The defense ministry said it would “review and supplement the concept of Korean three-axis system and required military strength only if there is a substantial change in the threat from North Korea, including the denuclearization.”
Sanctioned North Korean oil tankers reappear on tracking systems, By Leo Byrne
Both ships were previously linked to illegal ship-to-ship transfers
Two UN sanctioned oil tankers recently re-appeared on international tracking systems, the NK Pro ship tracker shows, marking the first time members of the DPRK’s oil fleet have broadcasted their location in months.
Once a common sight at oil terminals in eastern China and Russia, the DPRK’s oil transport fleet mostly disappeared from international tracking.
How the North is run: the secret police, By Fyodor Tertitskiy
The DPRK’s state security is the cornerstone of the Kim family’s power – but life at the top is a dangerous game
This is part of a larger series examining some of North Korea’s key institutions. The series has also covered the State Affairs Commission, the Politburo and the Central Committee, the Central Military Commission, the Supreme People’s Assembly, the Cabinet of Ministers, non-Party organizations,paramilitaries, local administration, the system of jurisprudence, and the Ministry of Railroads.
Of all the DPRK’s institutions, the country’s secret police, currently called the Ministry for Protection of the State (국가보위성), is the least researched and the least known to the general public.
There are two fundamental reasons for this. First, everything related to the secret police in the DPRK falls under the two highest levels of secrecy – either “top secret” or “ultimate secret”. For example, a 2002 telephone book leaked from the DPRK had no numbers of secret police offices, despite including the numbers of the Central Committee – understandable, since the book was only “secret” and not “top secret.” Very few of these documents have been leaked to the outside world.
Second, the South Korean intelligence services are very reluctant to share the information they have on the DPRK secret police – likely in order not to compromise their network. Thus, for example, the Ministry of Unification yearbook on North Korea normally names only three or four top officials in the North Korean secret police and almost nothing else, despite having much more detailed information on many other institutions.
Other countries who may have something noteworthy on the subject – China, United States, Russia and Japan – also do not share the information they have (for example, one U.S. document about the general structure of the DPRK police in the 1950s was declassified only in 2003 – and the document contained errors).
The very few bits of information on its structure, history, and duties which are available now are collected in this analysis.
The history of the secret police
The prototype organization of the North Korean secret police would be its Soviet counterpart, which in 1943-1953 was called the Ministry of State Security. The USSR had two types of police – the criminal and the secret – and throughout Soviet history, they were separate institutions, and in others, they were merged into one People’s Commissariat or Ministry. This tradition was reflected in the history of the North Korean secret police as well.
The secret police as a separate institution
Unlike many other events in North Korea in the 1970s, the separation of the secret and criminal police organizations was covered in an open access publication. The year after the separation happened, Kong Thak-ho (공탁호), a secret police instructor from Kaesong, fled to South Korea across the DMZ. Kong’s memoirs shade some light on this event.
According to Kong, preparation for the division began in 1972, as some officers from the MSS were put on probation for possible work in the secret police. Kong remembered that the chosen ones were quite surprised by the decision of the leadership. Interestingly, the major qualifying factor was a candidate’s kyechung: it had to be the highest “nucleus” category. Loyalty to the Party, rather than skills specifically related to police work, were most important.
Kong Thak-ho, along with a few dozen people assigned to the Ninth Bureau (responsible for wiretapping) were sent to Pyongyang for education, and in January 1973 they started working, targeting people with hostile kyechung. Kim Il Sung passed instructions on the establishment of the Department for Political Protection of the State (국가정치보위부), as the secret police were to be called from then on, on February 15, 1973 (notably, one day before Kim Jong Il’s birthday). In practice, the secret police became wholly independent only in May, but it was February 15 which was considered its birthday. This is how the secret police’s official covert name – “unit 215” (215군부대) – originated.
During the reorganization of the DPRK’s top state institutions in 1982, the “political” was dropped from the name of the secret police and it became the “Department for Protection of the State” (국가보위부). Another rebranding came in 1993, when it became the “Department for Protection of the State Security” (국가안전보위부) and, finally, in 2016 when Kim Jong Un named it the Ministry for Protection of the State (국가보위성, MPS).
Despite being called a ministry, the MPS is not part of the Cabinet of Ministers, instead, it reports to the State Affairs Commission, i.e. to Kim Jong Un himself. Before that, it reported to the National Defence Commission.
Chiefs of the secret police
One of the most vivid manifestations of the fact of how little is known about the DPRK secret police is that not even all the men who headed it are known by name. Before 1973, the secret police was merely one of the departments of the police ministry and its heads were normally not included in works about North Korea.This section is dedicated to what information is available on these men.
The early history of the DPRK secret police is closely linked to the figure of Pang Hak Se (방학세). Born Nikolaj Pan (Николай Игнатьевич Пан) in Russian Far East, this man quickly rose in ranks of the Soviet Secret Police – People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs – and survived the Great Terror. He was the only Soviet Korean to stay in power in the DPRK for decades until his natural death in 1992 – and, perhaps, the only chief of the DPRK secret police to do that as well.
The next man to reportedly head the secret police was Kim Jong Il’s brother-in-law Jang Song Thaek, who as the readers know, was very publicly purged in 2013. His successor, U Tong Chuk, was one of the eight men to carry Kim Jong Il’s coffin in 2011 – in 2012 he disappeared and there were reports that he committed suicide. The next chief of the secret police, Kim Won Hong, was purged.
|Jang Song Thaek
||U Tong Chuk
||Kim Won Hong
Heads of the DPRK secret police
||Term in power
|Pang Hak Se방학세/方學世
||Head of the Bureau for Political Protection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs내무성 정치보위국 국장
||September 1948 – March 1951
|Minister for Social Security사회안전상
||Head of the Bureau for Social Security of the Ministry of Internal Affairs내무성 사회안전국 국장
|Head of the First Bureau (Bureau for Social Security) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs내무성 제1국(사회안전국) 국장
|Head of the Bureau for Political Protection of the Ministry for Social Security사회안전성 정치보위국 국장
|Head of the Bureau for Political Protection of the Department for Social Security사회안전부 정치보위국 국장
|Kim Pyong Ha김병하/金炳夏
||Chairman of the Department for Political Protection of the State국가정치보위부 부장
|Ri Jin Su리진수/李鎭洙
||Chairman of the Department for Protection of the State국가보위부 부장
|Kim Yong Ryong김영룡/金英龍
||First Vice-Chairman of the Department for Protection of the State국가보위부 제1부부장
|First Vice-Chairman of the Department for Protection of the State Security국가안전보위부 제1부부장
|Jang Song Thaek장성택/張成澤
|U Tong Chuk우동측/禹東測
|Kim Wong Hong김원홍/金元弘
||Chairman of the Department for Protection of the State Security국가안전보위부 부장
||April 2012-June 2016
|Minister for Protection of the State국가보위상
|Jong Kyong Thaek정경택/鄭敬澤
* ND = died of natural causes, P =purged, A=alive, S=commited suicide, SA = supposedly assassinated
Control of information is a crucial part of the secret police’s daily work.
As was mentioned above, the South Korean Unification Ministry yearbook, which normally contains very detailed information on North Korea, has only named three top officials of the ministry. The current Minister for Protection of the State is Colonel General Jong Kyong Thaek (정경택), Vice-Minister is Lieutenant General So Tae Ha (서대하), and the chairman of the Political Bureau of the ministry (정치국 국장) is an officer called Kim Chang Sop (김창섭). The information given in previous yearbooks is equally scarce.
Yet, by using various sources, it is possible to collect information about the Ministry and its departments – although, given the situation, it may be partially incorrect or obsolete.The Ministry’s headquarters is located in Pyongyang to the north of the Taedong river and can be seen on the satellite image below:
The Ministry for Protection of the State
Like other DPRK organizations, the secret police also has its own media – which is classified.Initially, the name of the newspaper of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was Powi (보위), which at some point was reformatted to a bulletin called Kukka powi (국가보위). Of course, the bulletin is classified, and, according to NK Pro sources, one must return after reading.
The secret police in the DPRK is almost entirely considered a man’s job. The only place a woman can occupy there is that of a telephone operator (교환수). Thus, a secret policeman of any significance is always a man. The main criteria for joining the ranks of the secret police is one’s songbun and kyechung. To become a secret policeman, one’s relatives to the sixth generation should be of a nucleus or special kyechung and for high-ranking officers, this goes up to eight. Thus, the number of potential candidates is quite small.
Located in Ryongsong area (룡성구역) of Pyongyang, the Political University of the Ministry for Protection of the State (국가보위성 정치대학) accepts only Party members as students. Education lasts for five years, with students attending classes in politics, military studies, socialist economy, sociology, and psychology. The course also includes four types of training exercises: fighting, shooting, equipment training (this one includes driving), and psychological training.
The secret police’s main duty is combating political crimes. Those who are critical of the regime are dealt with according to the DPRK Penal Code or by extrajudicial means – through decisions of the local Security Council, chaired by the head of the local Party organization.
Control over the population does not necessarily include repression in all cases. There was a case during one election of local People’s Assemblies in North Hamgyong province when one girl put only one of two ballots in the ballot box. She was visited by secret police, although after they learned that she was voting for the first time and got confused, they just explained to the girl how one is supposed to vote – to put all the ballots in the box – and left her house.
The second task is censorship. All North Korean publications are required to be approved by the state, and a high ranking secret police officer – like a city chief – typically puts a visa on it.
The Special Tribunal
The Ministry also has its own tribunal, most known for publicly sentencing Jang Song Thaek to death in 2013. Before that, its very existence was kept secret. This tribunal operates in the same building as the Central Court does and convenes to sentence the most important political offenders.
The Special Military Tribunal of the Ministry for Protection of the State
The structure and the duties of the secret police were largely established in 1973 when it became a separate institution. It is largely responsible for suppressing dissent and strengthening the rule of the Kim family, although some of its duties – including intelligence and guarding the Leader – overlap with other agencies.
The secret police largely rely on social hierarchy as the means of checking potential employees. As such, while it is a prestigious institution, the number of people who can serve there is quite small and competition for positions is lower than it could be.
The Kim family fully understands that the secret police is the cornerstone of its power. Thus, the secret police always received priority in supply and its head reports directly to the Supreme Leader. This, however, does not mean that this is not a dangerous job: most of its leaders did not die a natural death, after all.
U.S. government issues North Korea sanctions enforcement advisory, By Hamish Macdonald
Warning focuses on DPRK labor and goods within global supply chains
Multiple U.S. government departments issued a North Korea sanctions and enforcement advisory notice on Monday, warning businesses and individuals of the continued sanctions risks involving DPRK entities and activities.
The publication of the advisory notice comes three days after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the UN Security Council (UNSC), where he called for the strict maintenance of sanctions against the DPRK amid current diplomatic engagement.
The purpose of the advisory is to “highlight sanctions evasions tactics used by North Korea that could expose businesses – including manufacturers, buyers, and service providers – to sanctions compliance risks under U.S. and/or United Nations sanctions authorities,” it reads.
“Businesses should be aware of deceptive practices employed by North Korea in order to implement effective due diligence policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure compliance with applicable legal requirements across their entire supply chains,” it added.
The U.S. Department of State, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) co-authored the advisory.
The notice identifies what the government deemed as two primary risks to businesses, which are the “inadvertent sourcing of goods, services, or technology from North Korea” and “the presence of North Korean citizens or nationals in companies’ supply chains, whose labor generates revenue for the North Korean government.”The notice warned business using third-country suppliers that such entities could be subcontracting manufacturing tasks to North Korean factories without them knowing.The notice adds that such goods, services, and technologies manufactured in North Korea may be mislabelled – such as being listed as “Made in China” – in order to mask their origins and the DPRK connections.
It also warned businesses to be aware of certain indicators of DPRK involvement such as lower than average prices being offered for raw materials or goods, a practice previously employed by the DPRK to sell coal and other goods.Within the annexes of the advisory, an extensive list of identified North Korean joint ventures is also provided. Joint ventures are prohibited from operating under current UNSC resolutions.
The risk of inadvertently using North Korean labor overseas is a major theme of the advisory, which identified DPRK involvement in sectors “including but not limited to apparel, construction, footwear manufacturing, hospitality, IT services, logging, medical, pharmaceuticals, restaurant, seafood processing, textiles, and shipbuilding.”“The U.S. government is focusing its disruption efforts on North Korean citizens or nationals whose labor generates revenue for the North Korean government,” it reads.
According to UNSC sanctions, member states are prohibited from issuing any new work permits for North Korean laborers in their jurisdictions and all North Korean workers are to be sent back to the DPRK by December 22, 2019.