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N. Korea shifts United Front Department roles to foreign ministry, military

After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered the erasure of the country’s past support for reunification, the North Korean government has been transferring important roles and functions of the United Front Department, the party organ in charge of South Korean affairs, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

Given these developments, some inside the country speculate that North Korea will send new instructions to its supporters in South Korea after the reorganization is completed.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in North Korea told Daily NK yesterday that “the United Front Department and other organs in charge of dealing with South Korea are being liquidated. In particular, the United Front Department will be reduced from a department to a section staffed with specialists under the direct supervision of the Workers’ Party. Most of the other staff and functions of the department will be integrated into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Reconnaissance General Bureau.”

Kim Jong Un told a year-end plenary session of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea that inter-Korean relations are now “relations between two hostile states and relations between two warring states.” Then, in a policy speech to the Supreme People’s Assembly in January, he said, “It is necessary to delete such phrases as ‘independence,’ ‘peaceful reunification,’ and ‘great national unity’ from the Constitution.”

The source explained that as part of carrying out Kim’s instructions, the Workers’ Party has essentially begun to shut down the United Front Department, the organ known for handling South Korean affairs. This includes a massive reorganization and transfer of the various components of the department.

“The strategic projects for South Korea handled by the United Front Department will be transferred to the foreign ministry’s office in charge of South Korea, which from now on will serve as the counterpart of the puppet state’s unification ministry,” the source said.

“[Control over] operations inside South Korea will be transferred to the military’s Reconnaissance General Bureau,” he added.

In short, the authority over propaganda campaigns and clandestine operations in South Korea, which were among the main tasks of the United Front Department, will be transferred to the Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is under the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army.

Reorganization may mean an uptick in campaigns against US and South Korea

While the Reconnaissance General Bureau has been coordinating covert operations and collecting and analyzing intelligence on South Korea, the dissolution of the United Front Department will give it an expanded role and function in this area. As a result, South Korean agencies and companies are likely to see a significant increase in attempted cyberattacks from the Reconnaissance General Bureau in the future.

“Despite the reorganization of the United Front Department, we have never considered stopping our support for sympathetic groups in South Korea or ceasing to manage these groups and give them instructions. I’m told that the party plans to develop sophisticated tactics and strategies for expanding sympathetic groups in South Korea and having these groups organize campaigns against the U.S. and the current government,” the source said.

In short, the source said, the party has instructed officials to keep a tight rein on pro-North Korean groups in South Korea, which is one of the main tasks of the United Front Department.

However, the Workers’ Party has not yet decided whether this task will be assigned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Reconnaissance General Bureau, or whether it will remain in the hands of the specialists currently working in the United Front Department, who will remain under the direct supervision of the Workers’ Party.

Once the division of labor is clarified, new instructions will be given to pro-North Korean groups inside South Korea, the source claimed.

“We have no reason to abandon the groups sympathetic to us in South Korea. We’ll probably give a new strategy and instructions to these groups in June or July after the reorganization work is completed,” the source said.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

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Read in Korean

March 29, 2024 at 01:15PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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