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Kim Jong-un regime risks military resistance: report

2016/02/23 10:09

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's Kim Jong-un regime may face resistance from its military should the armed forces grow disgruntled at its bungled economic policy under the communist party-centric politics, a government-commissioned report showed Tuesday.

Written by the Industry-Academy Cooperation Foundation affiliated with the Seoul National University of Education, the report warned the absence of economic progress in the impoverished state could weaken the governing legitimacy of the Workers' Party.

The report, entitled "A Study on the Party-Military Relations of the Kim Jong-un Regime," was commissioned by the Unification Ministry.

It underscored the importance of Pyongyang's economic growth for the autocratic ruler to secure the people's backing and legitimize his authority.

The relatively smooth transition toward the current Kim regime was a "result of the military's relative concessions," the report said, noting that under the young leader the center of power has shifted to the ruling party from the military.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watches an air force flight training session, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported on Feb. 21. (For use in South Korea only. No redistribution) (Yonhap) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watches an air force flight training session, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported on Feb. 21. (For use in South Korea only. No redistribution) (Yonhap)

But the military could call for reshaping the political order in its own favor if Kim fails to shore up the country's debilitated economy and ensure sustainable military expenditures, the report pointed out.

"The stability of the Kim regime and party-military relations hinges on the country's economic growth and continued military spending," the report said.

"In the event of an economic failure, a shift in the Kim regime could emerge as the military -- rather than regular North Koreans -- would first demand a shift in party-military relations or call for a military-centric order."

   Since Kim took power on his father Kim Jong-il's death in December 2011, he has taken legal steps to bolster the role of the party in managing state affairs -- a move that analysts said was designed to "institutionalize" the inexperienced successor's leadership. Kim has also put senior party officials in top military posts to tighten the party's control over the military.

Under the rule of his late father, however, the military was regarded as a fulcrum of power, as the ironfisted leader delegated much authority to the armed forces in a move to more easily mobilize troops for major state projects during periods of abject poverty.

The report also stressed that one of the most crucial tasks facing Kim is economic revitalization to make good on the reclusive state's much-publicized goal of a "strong, prosperous" state.

Economic progress is particularly crucial for Kim this year as his country is set to hold the seventh national congress of the ruling party for the first time in 36 years in May -- a significant political event to highlight economic and other feats and unveil a vision for the future.

The North believes it has already become a strong nation ideologically with its "juche" ideology of self-reliance and militarily with its nuclear program. Yet the goal of stabilizing its economy remains elusive as it has been under crippling international sanctions over its nuclear and missile tests.

sshluck@yna.co.kr

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