Pak Pong-ju (Korean박봉주;[1] born 10 April 1939) is a North Korean politician who served as the Premier of North Korea from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2013 to 2019.[2] He was elected a member of the Presidium of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in 2016.

Pak Pong-ju
Vice President of the
State Affairs Commission
In office
29 June 2016 – 29 September 2021
PresidentKim Jong Un
First Vice PresidentChoe Ryong-hae
Succeeded byKim Tok-hun
9th Premier of North Korea
In office
1 April 2013 – 11 April 2019
ChairmanKim Jong Un
Preceded byChoe Yong-rim
Succeeded byKim Jae-ryong
In office
3 September 2003 – 11 April 2007
ChairmanKim Jong Il
Preceded byHong Song-nam
Succeeded byKim Yong-il
Personal details
Born (1939-04-10) 10 April 1939 (age 85)
Kankyōhoku-dō, Korea, Empire of Japan
(now North Hamgyong Province, North Korea)
Political partyWorkers' Party of Korea
Korean name
Revised RomanizationBak Bong-ju
McCune–ReischauerPak Pongju

Early career edit

Pak Pong-ju was born in 1939.[3] Pak began his career in 1962 as manager of the Yongchon food factory in North Pyong'an Province. He became an alternative member of the ruling Korean Workers' Party (KWP) Central Committee in October 1980, and chief of the Namhung Youth Chemical Combine Committee in July 1983. In May 1993, he became vice director of the KWP's Light Industries Department, and in March 1994, he was the vice director of the party's Economic Policy Supervisory Department. In July of that year, Pak ranked 188th out of 273 members on the funeral committee of the late leader Kim Il Sung, indicating that he was on the periphery of the elite hierarchy. However, in September 1998, he was appointed to the chemical-industries portfolio under premier Hong Song-nam, and replaced him five years later.[3]

First Premiership (2004–2007) edit

In 2005, in a plenary session of the Supreme People's Assembly Pak spoke regarding the reintroduction of the public distribution system. Pak proposed an administrative solution to food distribution and labeled it the party's position: "By all means, we must reach this year’s grain production targets by thoroughly implementing the party’s policy of agricultural revolution by fully concentrating and mobilizing the entire country’s efforts into the agricultural front".[4]

On 11 April 2007, the Korean Central News Agency reported that during the 5th session of the 11th Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, Pak Pong-ju was "relieved … of premiership" and Kim Yong-il elected the new premier.[5] He had not been seen in public since May 2006. It is rumored that he was removed from office because he misused oil funds to be used for the farming sector,[6] or that he was too heavily focused on economic development suggestions from the People's Republic of China, instead of home-grown ideas.[7]

As Premier, Pak Pong-ju is the head of government in the DPRK, and formed the top executive leadership of the DPRK with other executive officials. The other branch of the executive government was the National Defense Commission of North Korea, led by Chairman of the National Defence Commission Kim Jong Un. As premier, he is responsible for organizing the cabinet and appoints ministers and vice-premiers upon confirmation by the Supreme People's Assembly.[8] Prior to becoming Premier, Pak had served as Chemical Industry Minister. He serves as part of a committee heading the executive branch of the North Korean government, along with Kim Jong Un and SPA Presidium chairman Kim Yong-nam. Each man nominally holds one-third of the powers held by a president in most presidential systems. Pak handles domestic affairs, Kim Yong-nam conducts foreign relations and Kim Jong Un commands the armed forces. On 23 August 2010, The New York Times reported that Pak Pong-ju "resurfaced at a state function in the capital, Pyongyang, on Saturday, carrying the title of first deputy director of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, according to the North’s state-run Korean Central Television."[9] He effectively replaced Kim Jong Il's sister Kim Kyong-hui as director of the Party Light Industry Department in 2012 (he was its vice-director from 1992–1998 and 2010–2012).

He was reputedly close to Jang Sung-taek and part of the current shifting of the government's attention to the consumer economy.[10]

Second Premiership (2013–2019) edit

On 31 March 2013 he was elected to Politburo Standing Committee. On 1 April, he replaced Choe Yong-rim for a second term as Premier. On 22 April, he chaired the first full session of the cabinet which included a discussion of the "byungjin line" of co-developing the economy and nuclear weapons, as well as budgetary issues for the People's Economy in the first and second quarters of 2013.[11] In July, it was announced that Pak's cabinet had taken full authority over economic measures by calling to "unconditionally executing the cabinet’s decisions and instructions".[12] On 11 April 2019, Pak was replaced by Kim Jae-ryong during the first session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly and given vice-chairmanship of the Workers' Party of Korea.[13]

Post-Premiership edit

Pak Pong-ju has been seen in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, visiting the building on the 26th anniversary of the death of Kim Il Sung.[14] During the 2022 celebration of the Day of the Foundation of the Republic, he participated in the central concert and banquet.[15]

Notes edit

  1. ^ Some Chinese media translate as "朴鳳柱"

References edit

  1. ^ Kim Kyung-yoon (10 January 2021). "[속보] '김정은 측근' 조용원 북한 정치국 상무위원…박봉주 빠져". 주식회사 연합뉴스 (in Korean). Yonhap News Agency. Archived from the original on 10 January 2021. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  2. ^ "1st Session of 11th SPA of DPRK Held". Korean Central News Agency. 3 September 2004. Archived from the original on 16 May 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  3. ^ a b Seth 2020, p. 242
  4. ^ "North Korea PM Says Farming, Increased Electricity, Coal Production Key in 2005" KCBS, 11 April 2005, BBC-MAPP
  5. ^ "5th Session of 11th SPA of DPRK Held". Korean Central News Agency. 11 April 2007. Archived from the original on 10 October 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  6. ^ "North Korean Premier falls from grace and loses job". Reuters. 13 April 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  7. ^ "North Korea: New Premier, Changing Priorities". Stratfor. 12 April 2007. Retrieved 16 April 2007.
  8. ^ "Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Full text) 1998". Archived from the original on 5 February 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2007.
  9. ^ Sang-Hun, Choe (23 August 2010). "North Korea Reinstates Market-Oriented Official". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  10. ^ Mansourov, Alexandre (17 December 2012). "A Dynamically Stable Regime". 38 North. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Pak Opens Account with Conservative Aire". Daily NK. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  12. ^ "DPRK Cabinet Holds Second Plenum". paperblog. Retrieved 21 July 2013.
  13. ^ "N.K. leader re-elected as chairman of State Affairs Commission". Yonhap. 11 April 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  14. ^ Zwirko, Colin (7 July 2020). "Kim Jong Un visits grandfather's mausoleum on death anniversary". NK News. Archived from the original on 8 July 2020. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  15. ^ Zwirko, Colin (9 September 2022). "Mysterious new aide to Kim Jong Un reappears at massive concert, banquet". NK News. Retrieved 13 February 2023.

Works cited edit

Seth, Michael J. (2020). A concise history of modern Korea : from the late nineteenth century to the present (Third ed.). Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 978-1538129050.

Political offices
Preceded by Premier of North Korea
Succeeded by
Preceded by Premier of North Korea
Succeeded by