Central Committee Plenum Opens

The 7th plenary meeting of the 8th Workers’ Party of Korea [WPK] Central Committee opened at the Central Committee Office Building in Pyongyang on 26 February (Sunday).  This is the shortest gap in time between Central Committee plenary meetings since the “restoration” of party political life under Kim Jong Un (Kim Cho’ng-u’n; KJU).  The meeting was convened to “analyze and review the work for 2022, the first year of implementing the program for the rural revolution in the new era, and decide on the immediate important tasks and the urgent tasks arising in the present stage of the national economic development and the practical ways for implementing them.”

KJU attended and presided over the meeting.  Joining him on the platform as plenum presidium members were DPRK Premier Kim Tok Hun (Kim Tok-hun), WPK Secretary for Organizational Affairs Jo Yong Won (Cho Yo’ng-wo’n), WPK Secretary for Propaganda and Agitation (publicity and information) Ri Il Hwan (Ri Il-hwan), WPK Secretary for Military Affairs Ri Yong Gil (Ri Yo’ng-kil), WPK Secretary for Science and Education Pak Thae Song (Pak T’ae-so’ng), WPK Secretary for Economic Affairs Jon Hyon Chol (Cho’n Hyon-ch’o’l), WPK Agriculture Department Director Ri Chol Man (Ri Ch’o’l-man), WPK Central Auditing Commission Chairman Kim Jae Ryong (Kim Ch’ae-ryong), DPRK Vice Premier and State Planning Commission Chairman Pak Jong Gun (Pak Chong-kun) and DPRK Vice Premier and Agriculture Commission Chairman Ju Chol Gyu (Chu Ch’o’l-kyu).

Attending the first day meeting were WPK Central Committee members and alternate (candidate) members,  Central Committee Department Directors and deputy directors, DPRK Cabinet officials, representatives of Cabinet Ministries and national institutions, leading cadres and functionaries of WPK provincial, city and county committees and People’s Committees, and various cadres and managers in the agricultural sector including: Minister of National Defense Kang Sun Nam (Kang Sun-nam), WPK Organization Guidance Department Senior Deputy Director Ri Hi Yong (Ri Hi-yo’ng), WPK Propaganda and Agitation [PAD] deputy director Kim Yo Jong (Kim Yo’-cho’ng), PAD deputy director Hyon Song Wol (Hyon So’ng-wol), WPK Civil Defense Department Director O Il Jong (O Il-cho’ng), DPRK Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui (Ch’oe So’n-hu’i), WPK Finance and Accounting Department Director Kim Yong Su (Kim Yo’ng-su), Korean People’s Army [KPA] General Political Bureau Director Jong Kyong Thaek (Cho’ng Kyo’ng-t’aek), Chief of the KPA General Staff Pak Su Il (Pak Su-il), Minister of Public Security Ri Thae Sop (Ri T’ae-sop), WPK Munitions Industry Department Director Jo Chun Ryong (Cho Ch’un-ryong), WPK International Affairs Department Director Kim Song Nam (Kim So’ng-nam), WPK Light Industry Department Director Han Kwang Sang (Han Kwang-sang), WPK Discipline Investigation Department Director Kim Sang Gun (Kim Sang-kun), WPK Party History Institute Director Ri Hye Jong (Ri Hye-cho’ng) and WPK United Front Department Director Ri Son Gwon (Ri Son-kwon).  Participating as observers in the meeting via teleconference were cadres and officials of WPK Central Committee Departments.

The plenary meeting’s agenda was approved and it took up the first agenda item which was listening to a report on the “first year of implementing the program for the rural revolution in the new era.”

WPK Vice Chairman, State Affairs Commission Vice Chairman and WPK Organization Guidance Department Director Choe Ryong Hae arrives for the central report meeting on April 11, 2018 (Photo: KCTV).

Missing in action from the 7th plenum is Choe Ryong Hae (Ch’oe Ryong-hae), chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly standing committee.  Around June 2022, Choe was bumped down a couple of notches in the regime’s formal hierarchy, but retained his Political Bureau Presidium and State Affairs Commission status.  His attendance at public events has been uneven.  He did not attend the 8 February parade commemorating the 75th anniversary of the foundation of North Korea’s armed forces, a soccer game on the Day of the Shining Star (a/k/a KJI’s birthday) and missed three groundbreaking ceremonies attended by KJU and Choe’s presidium colleagues, Kim Tok Hun and Jo Yong Won.

Let’s chalk Choe’s absence up to the fact the man is 73 years old and has at least one chronic health condition which can be exacerbated by the hard partying lifestyle befitting a top Pyongyang elite..  In the past, Choe vacated the positions of KPA General Political Bureau in 2014 and WPK Organization Guidance Department Director in 2019 which some sources ascribed to scandals (financial, personal) and other Pyongyang watchers linked to Choe’s health.

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