North Korea revamped major regulations governing the Workers Party to support the hereditary transfer of power from North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to his son Jong-un. South Korean government sources say the revisions officially turned the Workers Party into a "shrine" for the Kim dynasty. In the North, party regulations rank above the country's constitution.
Among the most prominent revisions is the scrapping of a clause stipulating that a party congress must be convened every five years. Instead, Article 21 states the party will announce when it convenes a congress "six months ahead of time." And the party can now elect senior members and revise regulations just by holding a top delegates' meeting, according to Article 30. A North Korean source said this means whether a party congress is held will depend on the progress of the hereditary transfer of power, and if conditions are unfavorable, Kim Jong-un's control over the party can just be confirmed by top delegates.
According to the new version of the regulation in Article 22, the secretary of the Workers' Party automatically becomes head of the Central Military Commission within the party to make it easy for Kim Jong-un to take power. As a result, if Kim Jong-un, who is presently the vice chairman, inherits the party's top position from his father, he automatically heads the military as well.
Also, the Central Military Commission has been given the power to "govern all defense and military programs conducted between each party convention" (Article 27). A Unification Ministry official said, "The status and role of the Central Military Commission has become similar to that of the National Defense Commission, which is North Korea's highest authority."
All political activities of the North Korean military will be pursued "under the guidance of the party," according to the revisions (Article 46). And the top political department in the military, which oversees ideological discipline and ferrets out possible dissent within the forces, will be given the equivalent power as the Central Military Commission (Article 49).
"Control over the military has been strengthened due to fears that the military may become more powerful than Kim Jong-un, whose support base is still weak," a South Korean intelligence official said. "It's a mechanism to prevent dissent within the ranks in the process of the power transfer."
All party members now have to abide by a new regulation requiring them to "oppose and fight against anti-socialist trends." A North Korean defector who used to be a high-ranking official said, "'Anti-socialist trends' refers to elements of capitalism that have flowed in from South Korea. The measure intends to block anything that could hinder the hereditary transfer."
The revisions, the first in 30 years, were unveiled at an extraordinary party congress on Sept. 28 last year. At the time the regime revealed only the preface of the revisions, which referred to the Workers Party as "the party of Great Leader and Comrade Kim Il-sung." It also declared the basic principle of the party to be "guaranteeing the succession of the party."
"The new regulations include various claims that the party is the shrine of the Kim dynasty to legitimize the succession," a South Korean government official said.
They say that Kim Il-sung is not only the progenitor of the Workers Party but of the military (Article 46), political institutions (Article 52) and labor groups (Article 56), while hailing Kim Jong-il as passing on and strengthening Kim Il-sung's accomplishments. "This shows that the party is completely dedicated to the hereditary principle and has deteriorated into a mere vehicle legitimizing the Kim dynasty," a South Korean intelligence official said. "It clearly shows the feudalistic and outmoded nature of North Korea."