May 19, 2011 13:00
North Korea's Workers Party has started a generational shakeup in the Supreme People's Assembly by appointing large numbers of young delegates in their 20s and 30s. The rubber-stamp parliament consists of delegates with a five-year term from various organizations including the party and the military.
A North Korean source said the Workers Party recently ordered municipal, provincial, and county party committees to force elderly members to quit for health reasons and fill the vacancies with people under 40.
"The North Korean leadership is seeking to replace a larger number of elderly members with younger people next year," which it has declared as the year when the country becomes a "powerful and prosperous" nation, the source said. The regime "also ordered officials to lower the educational level of the delegates, but raise the ratio of female delegates to more than 30 percent."
The average age of the 687 SPA delegates is 57. Those with college or higher degrees account for 92.8 percent, and women for 19.3 percent, according to the source. The moves are believed to be part of the regime's efforts to consolidate the succession of leader Kim Jong-il's third son and heir Jong-un, who is in his late 20s.
Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Park Sun-young backed the story. "I was told by a North Korean source based in a Southeast Asian country that the regime has recently issued instructions for a generational change in the SPA," she said. "The party is trying to strengthen Kim Jong-un's control" at a time when the lower echelons of the party, which has a membership of 4.5 million nationwide, have become unreliable since a botched currency reform in late 2008.
"Once the SPA has more delegates in their 20s and 30s who are Kim Jong-un's loyal cadres, the regime will probably get tough, including launching more provocations against the South," Park added.
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