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Title NK Brief, January 11, 2018 Date 2018.01.16
Attach 180111_NK Brief No 1-2_(2018)_(New ski resort, OGD, inter-Korean relations).pdf
□ New ski resort opens in Kanggye, Chagang Province
A new ski resort opened in Kanggye, the capital of Chagang Province, on January 7, 2108, as reported by the Rodong Sinmun on January 8th. It is said the ski resort will serve as a “base for providing public sports services” for North Korean people.

“The ski resort, built on Mt. Jabuk on the outskirts of Kanggye, is fully provided with facilities for the workers and youth to enjoy sporting activities and rest, including sledge runs, beginner and intermediate slopes, ropeway, surface lift, and medical treatment room,” the North Korean state newspaper said.

“Constructing the resort in line with the country’s reputation as a civilized socialist power, North Korea has created another base for public sports services that will contribute to endow the workers and young students with solid physical strength,” it added.

At the opening ceremony held on January 7th, Kim Jae-ryong, Chairman of the Chagang Provincial Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), called the Kanggye Ski Resort a “monumental creation in the days of the WPK.” In the interest of Chairman Kim Jung Un, he said, the government officials and workers in the province have completed the construction in a short period of time through their own technologies and resources. He also stated that under the “strenuous efforts first” principle, the workers in the province’s machinery industry have built and installed many facilities and equipment such as a surface lift and ropeway.

According to a Rodong Sinmun report in July, the Kanggye Ski Resort, which is built in the Sokjo district of the city, is equipped with ski slopes, sledge runs, restaurants, lodging facilities, cultural and welfare facilities and parking lots. The entrance of the ski slopes are said to be marked with gate posts featuring distinctive designs. There is also a pavilion from which one can view the surrounding landscape.

It is reported that water from a reservoir can be accessed to produce artificial snow in the event of a shortfall of snow. The resort also operates snow groomers. Skiers can take the surface lift get to the beginner slopes or sledge runs. There is ropeway access to the pavilion at the top of the ski slopes, where skiers can get a bird’s eye view of the city of Kanggye.

The Kanggye Ski Resort is North Korea’s second ski resort—the first being the winter resort at Masikryong Pass, which opened in early January 2016. Various North Korean media agencies are actively promoting the new resort, perhaps reflecting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s interest in winter sports.

□ “Choe Ryong-hae is the new OGD director,” MOU says
In the new organizational chart of North Korean leadership released on January 11, the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) presumed that Choe Ryong-hae, a vice chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), doubles as the director of the WPK Organization Guidance Department (OGD).

Although some research institutes have raised the possibility of Choe concurrently holding the two positions in the past, this is the first time the ministry has stated its presumption of such a possibility.

Responsible for the major personnel policies of the Workers’ Party, the cabinet and the military, the director of the OGD is one of the most important posts in North Korea. For this reason, it was given to Kim Il-sung’s own brother Kim Yong-ju during the Kim Il-sung era and held by the supreme leader himself during the Kim Jong-il era.

As of January 2018, according to the MOU, Pak Kwang-ho is the director of the WPK Propaganda and Agitation Department, Thae Jong-su is the director of the WPK Defense Industry Department, and Jong Kyong-taek heads the Ministry of State Security, which is under direct control of the State Affairs Commission. The WPK Finance and Planning Department has been renamed as the Economic Department.

In addition, the MOU explained that the Committee on Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland (CPRF) is one of the organizations under the North Korean cabinet. It has been until now unclear whether the CPRF was under direct control of the State Affairs Commission or part of the cabinet.

In 2016, North Korea promoted the CPRF, which had been an outer apparatus of the Workers’ Party responsible for inter-Korean affairs, to the status of a state organization.

North Korea has traditionally used the title “republic” when referring to the cabinet organizations. Subsequently, “although North Korea has not officially announced the change,” an MOU official explained, “we presume that the CPRF is now part of the cabinet, considering that North Korean media referred to it as the CPRF of the Republic.”
In the meantime, the MOU thinks that Hwang Pyong-so, the director of Korean People’s Army General Political Bureau, who is believed to have been punished, still holds the position of member of the WPK Political Bureau and member of the Central Military Commission.

□ The two Koreas must aim at national cooperation to improve inter-Korean relations, North Korea asserts
North Korea asserted that it is necessary to endeavor to bring about the fruits of improving inter-Korean relations in the face of “high-level” talks between the two Korean governments.

“An improvement in inter-Korean relations is of great interest which all the Korean people should work together to bring about,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on January 6. “The basic premise for breaking the stalemate in inter-Korean relations is to actively create an atmosphere conducive to national reconciliation and unification,” it asserted.

In addition, the KCNA declared, “The will to improve inter-Korean relations must be supported by actions, not just by words.” “Despite all the talks about improving relations, obstructing inter-Korean contacts and correspondence taking place at all levels of society and suppressing the spirit of promoting unification by forming solidarity with the North with unfair pretenses and legal and institutional devices are ultimately opposing the improvement in inter-Korean relations and nothing but a deceptive trick to mislead the public opinion,” it added.

Furthermore, the news agency argued, “The entire process of inter-Korean relations in the past period could have never been achieved by any one party’s endeavor. It has proved that only when both parties are committed to national cooperation, they can bring about a fruitful improvement in the bilateral relations. . . . Because the issues in inter-Korean relations are internal matters of Korean people, if you try to solve them by relying on foreign forces, you will only create complexity in solving the issues,” it said.

In addition, the reported stressed that the two governments “should play a more responsible and a greater leading role in improving inter-Korean relations than anybody else. Whether there will be an improvement in the relations depends on how much effort they make.”

Moreover, the KCNA argued, when “North and South Korea break away from the past” and the people of both Koreas “make concerted efforts to have serious discussions on the issue of improving inter-Korean relations and boldly open up the exit from the stalemate,” there will be no room for doubt that everything will work out well in accordance with the desire and intention of the entire Korean people.

In this regard, the two Koreas have agreed at the high-level inter-Korean talks held on January 9 “to resolve the Korean issues through dialogue and negotiation” and “to hold high-level talks and joint committee meetings to that end.”

On the following day, North Korea again insisted on the rejection of foreign forces and promoted national independence in resolving the issues in inter-Korean relations.

“Holding fast to the idea of national independence is an important way to resolve the issues in inter-Korean relations,” Rodong Sinmun asserted, “We can never solve the issues in inter-Korean relations by relying on foreign forces.”