Kim Jong-un Plays up Party over Military

      August 26, 2013 11:53

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Sunday stressed the role of the Workers Party in a statement marking the 53rd anniversary of the "songun" or military-first doctrine.

      In the statement published in the Rodong Sinmun daily, Kim said the leadership of the Workers Party is "essential" for the North Korean People's Army and that the two are "inseparable."

      North Korean Politburo chief Choe Ryong-hae gives a speech in Pyongyang to mark the 53rd anniversary of military-first doctrine on Saturday. /North Korean Central News Agency

      The statement was widely seen as an effort by the young leader to distance himself from his father Kim Jong-il's excessive reliance on the army, which had become a state within the state under his rule.

      Pundits also believe he wanted to highlight the stability of his regime.

      North Korea was ruled by the party in the days of nation founder Kim Il-sung, but Kim Jong-il shifted much of the power to the military to cement his rule, with the result that it became ever more belligerent and uncontrollable.

      The sacking last year of army chief Ri Yong-ho is seen as part of Kim Jong-un's efforts to bring the army to heel.

      North Korea has celebrated the "songun" doctrine each year since Aug. 25 of 1960, when Kim Jong-il first coined the word.

      Meanwhile, the North's official KCNA news agency reported Saturday that the state travel agency held a meeting with representatives of tour operators from China, the U.K. and Germany in Pyongyang to explain the country's new tourism policy.

      Facing a cash shortage since the halt of South Korean-operated tours to the scenic Mt. Kumgang resort in 2008 and international sanctions, North Korea has been focusing on attracting more tourists.

      Jo Song-gyu, the head of North Korea's International Travel Company, promised the country's main tourist spots, including Mt. Baekdu, Mt. Kumgang Mt. Chilbo and Masikryong in Wonsan, where a ski resort is being built, "will be run in the form of special zones for tourism and we'll apply international standards and rules to all activities there including entry, customs, taxes, communications and business investments," according to KCNA.

      He added that the North "welcomes businessmen and investors from other countries coming with business interest in mind."

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