tv Discussion on North Koreas Ruling Party Congress CSPAN May 8, 2016 2:00am-3:32am EDT
listened, and we kept working and to weep build consensus, and because we took the time to listen, we crafted legislation that was good for the police because it improved the trust and cooperation of the community, and it was good for the community who were less likely to be treated unfairly. and i can say this unequivocally, without at least the acceptance of the police organization in illinois, i could never have gotten those bills passed. very simple. they would have blocked them. the point is you need allies in a democracy. that is just the way it is. it can be frustrating and it can be slow. but history teaches us that the alternative to democracy is
always worse. that is not just true in this country. it is not a black or white thing. go to any country where the give and take of democracy has been repealed by one party rolls, and one-party rule and i will show you a country that does not work. democracy requires compromise, even when you are 100% right. this is hard to explain sometimes. you can be completely right and you still have to engage folks who disagree with you. if you think that the only way forward is to be as uncompromising as possible, you will feel good about yourself, you will enjoy a certain moral purity, but you will not get what you want.
if you do not get what you want long enough, you will eventually think the whole system is rigged. that will lead to more cynicism and less participation and a downward spiral of more injustice, anger and despair. and that has never been a source of progress. that is how we cheat ourselves of progress. we remember dr. king's soaring oratory. the power of his letter from a birmingham jail. the marches he led, but he also sat down with president johnson in the oval office to try to get the civil rights act of voting rights act passed, and those two seminal bills were not perfect, just like the emancipation
proclamation was a war document as much as it was some call for freedom, goes mile polls on our progress were not perfect, they do not make up for centuries of slavery, jim crow, or illuminate racism or provide 40 acres and a mule, but they made things better. you know what? i will take better every time. i always tell my staff, better is good because you can consolidate your gains and then you move on to the next fight from a stronger position. britney packman, a member of the black lives matter movement in campaign 0, 1 of the ferguson protester organizers, she joined 21st centurye on policing. some of her fellow activists questioned whether she should
participate. she rolled up her shirtsleeves and sat at the same table with big-city police chiefs, prosecutors, and because she did, she ended up shaping many of the recommendations of that task force and those recommendations are now being adopted across the country. changes that many of the protesters called for. if young activists like britney had refused to participate out of ideological purity, then those great ideas would have remained ideas. but she did participate, and that is how change happens. america is big and boisterous. the president told me that we have got a significant nepalese contingent here at howard and i would not have guessed that. right on. but it just tells you how interconnected we are becoming,
and we have so many folks from so many places converging. we are not always going to agree with each other. another howard alumn, zorneal hurston once said, nothing that god ever made is the same thing to one person. think about that. that is what our democracy gives us a process designed for us to settle our disputes with arguments and ideas and votes instead of violence and simple majority rule. do not try to shut folks out. do not try to shut them down, no matter how much you might disagree with them. there has been a trend around the country trying to get colleges to this invite speakers
speakers with a different point of view or politician's rally. do not do that. no matter how ridiculous or offensive you might find the things that come out of their mouths because as my grandmother used to tell me, every time a fool speaks, they are just advertising their own ignorance. let them talk. [laughter] pres. obama: let them talk. if you do not, you are just making them a victim and then they can avoid accountability. that does not mean you should challenge them. have the confidence to challenge them. confidence in the rightness of your position.
there will be times when you shouldn't compromise your core values, integrity, and you will have the responsibility to speak up in the face of injustice. listen, engage. if the other side has a point, learn from them. if they are wrong, teach them, beat them on the battlefield of ideas, and you might as well start practicing now because one thing i can guarantee you, you will have to deal with ignorance, hatred, racism, foolishness, trifling folks -- [laughter] pres. obama: i promise you, you will have to deal with all of that at every stage of your life. that may not seem fair, but life has never been completely fair. nobody promised you. if you want to make life fair, then you have to start with the world that it is. so that is my advice. that is how you change things. change is not something that happens every four years, eight years, it is not placing your
faith in any particular politician and then putting your feet up and saying, ok, go. change is the effort of people who hitched their wagons to something bigger than themselves and fight for it every single day. that's what thurgood marshall understood. a man who once walked this yard, graduated from howard law, went on to baltimore, started his own law practice. he and his mentor charles hamilton houston rolled up their set out to they overturn segregation and they worked with the naacp. filed dozens of lawsuits, dozens of cases and after nearly 20 years of effort, 20 years, thurgood marshall ultimately succeeded in bringing his righteous calls before the supreme court and secured the
ruling in brown versus board of education that separate could never be equal. 20 years. marshall, houston, they knew it would not be easy. they knew it would not be quick. they knew all sorts of obstacles would stand in their way. they knew that even if they won, that would just be the beginning of a longer march to equality. but they had discipline. they had persistence. they had faith. and a sense of humor. and they made life better for all americans. i know you graduates share those qualities. i know it because i have learned
about some of the young people graduating here today. there is a young woman named sierra jefferson, and i will use you as an example, i hope he do not mind. she was raised in detroit and raised by friends and family who took her home in. a.m., getting5:30 ready for school and taking care of her little sister. she knew what was her ticket to a better life. the daughter of a single mom who worked on an assembly line turned down a full scholarship to harvard to come to howard.
and today like many of you, sierra as the first in her family to graduate from college. then she said she was going to go back to her hometown just like their good marshall did. -- just like thur good marshall did. she wants to be a change agent. to reach back and help others. why i amke her are optimistic about the future of america. people like you are why i never give in to despair. wrote, notin once everything that is faced can be changed, but everything that is changed is faced. you are here because someone
faced challenge for us. someone struggled and sacrificed for us. that is not just the story of others or of you or of me, that is the story of america. the story of slaves in the cotton fields. these songs. the marches and summer. the dream of aching in the shadow of lincoln. immigrants who set out for america. women demanding to vote. workers who built america. the gis who fight overseas for freedom. now it is your turn. the good news is, you are ready. seems too hardey and when you run into a forest of synnex to tell you you are foolish to keep believing or that you should just give up, you should just sell.
announcer: recently, our 2016 campaign bus stopped at grove city college, slippery rock university, washington and jefferson college, and harris community college where local officials learned about our interactive resources covering trail.paign visitors were able to share their thoughts about the upcoming election. the bus ended in war and 10, pennsylvania, where they on seventh graders for their videos. we thank comcast and armstrong for their help. you can see the videos at c-span.org. proudly secretary, we gives 72 of our delegate votes to the next president of the united states. [fireworks]
[applause] ♪ announcer: next, a look at recent developments in north korea. the panelists discuss the recent developments in north korea and china. it is one hour and a half. it was hosted at the wilson center. >> good afternoon and welcome to the wilson center. both of those of you physically here and those of you looking in remotely.
the wilson center, for those of you who are not physically hairy hand might not know, is the nation's official memorial to our 28 president. it seeks to promote president woodrow wilson's policy of sound scholarship. by the time you leave here this afternoon, you will get a very good example of merging those two interests in what we are going to have with us today. the seventhng at party congress of the korean workers party, which is to again, on friday, the sixth congress took place 36 years ago so many of us in this room, not me, but many of you in this room were not even around last time
there was a party congress which raises a whole host of interesting questions as to what to look for and what to expect. doubt the two experts today will provide us with many insights into those questions and other questions. was mark twain who allegedly said, although i don't think he actually did, i history may not repeat itself but it usually rhymes. that if wea feeling look back at previous congresses, we will at least get some inkling as to what to expect for the congress that starts this friday. we will be assisted in this two of thisy country's genuine experts on the
-- thetic people rules democratic people's republic of korea. experts inery few this country and i are very pleased to have two of them. we will hear first from james person whose title is such that i have to read it. thes the coordinator of korea foundation center for history and public policy here at the woodrow wilson center. he is also deputy director of the center's history and public policy program. james is completing a book on the evolution of north korea's political and ideological systems after the korean war. visiting professor among other places at two different universities in seoul, korea. the university of north korean studies and create university.
he will introduces to some documents that he and his colleagues have recently unearthed that will not only shed light on the past but probably on the future as well. after james finishes, we will then be talking to or listening a bob, who is currently visiting fellow at stanford university. distinguished and career in the united states government where he was universally, and i mean universally, recognized as the u.s. government's go-two person on north korea. bob has been there more than 30 times in that would suggest some reason why he is so highly regarded in the field of north korean studies. among his recent accomplishments is the revision and updating of
a book which almost all of us written byoriginally don, recently updated and revised. you.ank i want to start by saying a few words about what we do here at the wilson center on korea and i would like to announce the release of a new collection of documents on the congress of korean people. the center goes into international archive and gathers documents and we take these materials, translate them, modernease them on our history portal which is part of our digital archive which you digitalarchive. or
--l stop we do this because digitalarchive.org. documentsze these have a great policy relevance and so we try to use them to inform policies which is particularly useful when looking at north korea. north koreans themselves attach itmuch to their history so helps us understand where they are coming from and puts us in a better position to more accurately interpret the actions of the regime today. so we release these materials on our digital archive. the modern history portal and we actually just releasing today a new collection that features documents on congresses of the past. these materials are assembled russia, archives of
china, hungary, albania, and a few other countries. the collection shows which at pastatter most congresses of the korean workers party and what north koreans workers have sought to achieve through the congresses. collection suggests, past were used to consolidate and lay outcontrol his roadmap for the country's economic development. waslast congress in 1980, used to anoint the son of the current leader as successor. collectioness this by going to the digital archival or type into any search engine, modern korean portal and look for the collection. some great findings here from
all six of the congresses up until now. in my talk, i am going to do a couple things. background --some give some background on congresses. how they function in north area and i'm going to offer some suggestions based on trends, what you might expect from the seventh congress. what are congresses? according to the 11th article of north korea's socialist constitution, the constitution sinceas been in place 2012, the democratic people's republic of korea, the official name of north korea, carries out all of its activities under the leadership of the korean workers party.
whether this means the party leads the state, an arrangement known as the party state system. according to article 14, clause one of the charter of the korean workers party, the congress is leadership organ that leads the democratic people's republic of korea and as such, are congresses of the korean workers party are the most important political events in north korea. you do not have anything else as important as the political schedule in north korea. these are not once in a lifetime or once in a generation events or they should not be. this is something you see a lot when describing the upcoming congress. until 2012, the everysses had been held five years and the north koreans did hold them more frequently in the past but this was amended in , the last congress
was 36 years ago in 1980's so i really expect them to be -- to be happening on a much more frequent basis moving forward. today,n lowe, the leader seems to be continuing to -- kim be elevating to the role of the party and it seems the role of the congresses act. to be a natural the primary purposes or function of the congresses to elect a new central committee. delegates from around north korea attended the congress and ach delegate represents certain number of party members. it used to be a ratio of one members of the0 party. i am not sure what it is anymore.
delegates would elect a number of members to a central committee that was authorized by the congress and that number has grown. in 1946, the first congress, there were 43 members elected. was 124 i think it members. you also have candidate members. attend thee who can congress but do not have voting rights. if you include them and more or less doubles the size of the central committee. thee the congress is supreme leadership organ, the central committee is supposed to meet in between sessions of the congress. toy are supposed to do this -- for regular operations and party business. this is supposed to happen at least three times a year through plenary sessions.
but that is an theory. this has not been the case for the past 3.5 decades. another function of the congress charterend the party which sets out how the party is organized, how the various bodies that are in the party relates to the north korean government, and to the military, to society, and to the economy. some of the smaller bodies that are part of the central committee, for example the polyp bureau or presidium -- the name changes. you also have another body that is part of the essential military commission which seems to be under the authority of the party again. you may say that the party charter is an ideological document. it contains a preamble that gives a broad definition of the
party's views on many diplomatic and international issues. the views expressed in the preamble in many ways inform the policies of north korea. until or -- between congresses. now, in lieu of a full congress, the party can also convene a party conference. you may recall that in 2010 and in 2012 you had party conferences. there have been a total of four conferences in the history of the korean workers party. i have these listed in the powerpoint here. so, what is the difference between a congress and a conference? well, for one, less can be achieved at a conference.
for example, interior only 1/5 of the central committee can be replaced at a conference. in practice there is some flexibility. at the third conference in 2010 a larger number of members of the central committee was replaced. this could be because many had died or were purged from the last meeting. in 1980. also, a conference cannot declare a new term of the central committee. despite the fact that there have been two conferences since 2010, the korean workers party is still operating under the sixth essential committee elected at the last congress in 1980. as noted there have been a total of six congresses since the party was founded. the founding of the party is something that was up for debate. the north korean celebrated last
october the seventh anniversary of the party's founding. that was the anniversary of the northern korean communist party. the korean workers party was founded in august of 1946, when the communist party merged with another progressive party called the new people's party. this was done at the suggestion of joseph stalin. in a meeting that kim il-sung had with him in moscow. he returned in the merger took place at the first congress. in august, 1946. the second congress took place less than two years later in march of 1948. pre-war the last -- warean were congress
congress to focus on putting the party in order, passing new bylaws. patterns begin to emerge from the third congress that happened after the war in 1946. topics discussed include economic development, domestic politics, international relations, and inter-korean relations. at the last two congresses in 1970 and 1980, ideology played a major role. and of course there have been displays, significant displays of loyalty to the kim family and the unitary leadership system. now, conditions are not ideal for the upcoming congress. the tone of the statement announcing the congress in october, this is when they had 70thcelebrated the anniversary party, what they claimed to be the 70th anniversary of the party. the tone of that announcement,
that a congress would be called, was pretty up the. since then their status quo has become pretty unfavorable. relations have worsened to the point where the kaesong industrial complex, really the last economic link between the two koreas, was shuttered. relations with china are on the rocks after the incident involving the band in december that was sent into china to have a couple of concerts. when the north koreans discovered that only mid-level chinese officials would be present at the concerts, the band was brought back to north korea and the concerts were canceled. today, if you believe the north korean official media, the korean central news agency, kim jong-un gave orders for the fourth nuclear test in the immediate wake of this incident.
it seems that the failure to improve relations with both beijing and seoul or that they needed to demonstrate strength and military power to the impoverished people of north korea. they decided to do this through their nuclear program. sure, north korea caused nuclear-related activities have surged since earlier this year. in january of worst they conducted their fourth nuclear test. in the following month they conducted a test of a long-range nuclear missile, the kind that in theory could carry a nuclear weapons that the united states. north korea claimed to have tested a more powerful rocket engine and have also claimed to have miniaturized nuclear weapons so that they could fit on the tip of a missile. in april they fired a submarine launched ballistic missile and made three attempts at launching a medium-range missile. the missile test failed, as we know. but it's not certain that the north korean people are aware of this.
you know, of course, all you have to do is visit the -- to get a sense of how truthful they are to the people, you just have to visit the museum of the three revolutions and you can see the every missile they claim to have fired is successful and that you have satellites in orbit today broadcasting 24 hours per day the songs of kim jong-il. despite the fact that we know that those tests failed. so, what can we expect from the congress? we are going to see a lot of things that have been on the agenda in the past, i think. can we expect major policy announcements?
well the soviets and the chinese , used congresses to unveil major new policies. for example, the use of the 12th conference of the chinese communist party in 1982 to put forward the idea of developing socialism with chinese characteristics. in 1956 nikita khrushchev used the 20th party congress of the soviet union to launch communist party of the soviet destalinization. in 1946 it was harassed right used to launchas perestroika. but what we see in the documents is that the north korea and some not really use these conferences and -- congresses for the same
purpose. they have been largely scripted events. i wouldn't really expect anything new. as the hungarian ambassador to north korea wrote in late september of 1980, congresses "serve only for endorsing the politics created by a narrow political group and not for discussing, developing, or introducing meaningful political directions suitable for the new circumstances." so, do not expect debate and discussion. what you should expect is lots of grandiose statements about nuclear capabilities, support for kim jong-un and the military unitary leadership system. internal cohesion and perhaps economic development. so, what will we see? we will see kim jong-un delivering a report on what should be the accomplishments since the last congress in 1980. i suspect that he will also be presenting new policy
directions. i expect the accomplishments part of the speech will be pretty brief and there will be more of a focus on what the new policy directions will be. you wonder if perhaps the lack of accomplishments is one of the reasons that kim jong-il never convened a congress while he was in power. i would venture to guess the north koreans will be talking a jong un's policy of equal emphasis or simultaneous development of nuclear weapons or nuclear programs along with consumer goods industries. this is a modification of a policy that was launched in 1962 by his grandfather.
for the senior kim, it was about the simultaneous development of heavy industry and national defense industries. for him it was steel and guns. for kim jong-un, who relaunched in 2013, it is more nukes and butter. it will likely be much talk about the successes in the development of the nuclear weapons program. along with that the speeches will perhaps outline how they plan to make the butter. according to a report in the north korean press on saturday, the dprk "proudly joined the ranks of nuclear and is one demonstrating that might be invincible political, ideological, and youth power, now dashing ahead forward to a socialist economic power and highly civilized nation." now, does this mean policy shift or adjustments to the old system? again, congresses of the korean workers party have never been used to launch new and
transformative policies. i would therefore expect tweaks to the old system. i think the 70th-day speed campaign that was launched as a run-up to the conference is a pretty clear sign of this. when times were tough, as they are now because of sanctions, they mobilized indigenous human material resources. the results of these campaigns looked impressive, qualitatively, but led to serious distortions in resource distributions and undermined the economy's base. north koreans have started a new launched a new expression. create. it is derived from a mid-1950's mobilization campaign.
the movement was launched when north korea was unveiling its five-year plan after the korean after the korean war. the was at a time when socialist camp was in decline. so, they were forced to mobilize these resources to achieve the goals of the five-year plan. it was a mythical flying horse. a pegasus that could travel 400 kilometers in a single day. 4000 kilometers in a single day. so they are asking the north korean people to do 10 times the work in a single day. these speed battle campaigns are focused on short-term goals. seems to suggest that as a result of sanctions, we should not expect the announcement of medium-range plans for economic development through, for example, a new five-year or seven-year plan.
that said, north koreans are pretty skillful at getting around sanctions. there are, of course, doubts. doubts persist about the chinese commitment to enforcing sanctions. i think that in the end any improvement in consumer goods, any focus on consumer goods, however small it may be, would still be a major improvement in north korea. because as you see in the materials, since 1953 they have been focused single-mindedly on the development of heavy industry and defense capabilities. the congress will also likely bring to an end, i think, i hope, many of the changes at the top levels of leadership. including the dramatic purges and even executions. with the election of the new central committee at think we
will have a better understanding of who is in control. i wouldn't be surprised to see a younger generation with a congress that is really going to give kim jong-un the opportunity to bring about generational change through the election of a new central committee. i think we will also see a lot of stress on the unitarian leadership system, which is again a throwback to an earlier time. 1967, when after a debate within the korean workers party kim il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader, launched that made the word of the sovereign absolute. i expect you will see a lot of discussion of this again. which will discourage any difference of opinion.
now, on inter-korean relations we might see reference to the principles of the july 4, 1972 july 4 declaration, inter-korean declaration. kim jong-un brought these principles in in his new year's address. he suggested the need to show willingness to respect and faithfully implement the three main principles of reunification of the fatherland. the principles are again autonomy, peace, and solidarity. sorry, autonomy, peace, and solidarity of the korean people. but given the state today, i would be surprised if there were anything beyond that.
to bring about unification. if theree surprised was any discussion beyond that. i do not think we can expect any major changes. nothing new. expression of support. him promising to focus more on economic development and unity around to the two leader. thank you very much. >> thank you, james. we now turn to bob. bob: as some of you were, i was earlier today looking at the future of the .orean peninsula
that is pretty dismal. so going back and looking at the ,ast is actually exhilarating somewhat fun, because what it demonstrates is we actually know something. and, there are some windows into the soul of the country that should help us understand what will be happening on friday. you will be seeing in the newspaper commentaries and on the news, i'm afraid a lot of baloney about the congress, a lot of reporters don't have familiarity with north korea. i do not know how much homework some of them do. some of them did a fair amount, i think. but what i wanted to do is based on some of the documents that james has put together, primarily the
hungarian documents on the fourth and the sixth congresses. some sense of perspective for what you will be seeing or what the reporters are going to be seeing this time around. and you can make yourself the comparisons of what is very new. and what is the same old. first thing to note, of course, is that what is important, and it becomes clear in the hungarian documents, the lens that you bring to the congress will influence your interpretation of what is going on. that is not a great insight, but you need to keep bearing that in mind. the lens that the north koreans bring to the congress will not be our lens. so our interpretation of what there was is liable to be different from the way that
somebody in the north korean leadership and somebody like the man on the street will see it. there is utility to comparisons between and among the various congresses. but you have to be very careful, because these congresses are often context specific, they depend on what was going on around and within north korea at the time. so the absolute comparisons are not going to get to as far as you might hope. go through at little list of things that i bet will jump out at this time around. looking back at the fourth and sixth congresses, they were there too. the first thing that will jump out will be the bad apple section of the speeches, the reference to the anti-party elements.
this does not only show up in congresses, but is sort of is the meat and potatoes of a speech about where the party is and how far it has come. now why is this important? , because of the bias that has crept into observers' view of kim jong-un's grasp of power, people will say, they are looking at using a -- they are looking at the anti-rta elements because there are still problems in his base of support. well, that might be, but the fact is, certainly in 1961 and 1980, and i am pretty sure in 1970, there are references to crashing that you can party -- crushing the anti-party elements in the party. so you need to make a judgment on whether this is new or
different, something about the wording that is different, or is it just throw away lines that belong in a speech. same thing, criticism of moscow and beijing. if there is criticism of the chinese, either implicit or veiled, probably is not going to be explicit, a lot of people say, you see, china and north korea are having a fight these days because the leader of china does not like kim jong-un. they are angry because the north koreans do not show the proper respect in developing their own nuclear capability. if you look at the congress in
1980, there was loads of criticism of both the soviet union and china. and not very thinly veiled, either. complaints about dominationism, which was a reference, a clear reference to the soviet union. complaints about the superpowers -- guess who that is. assertions that there should be no principled compromise with the imperialist. well, who had been engaged with that if not beijing and moscow. people have illusions about moscow. same thing. so this comes with mother's milk in north korea, this sense of independence from big powers, needing to forge their own path there need to push back on what neighborss the big stepping on their own prerogatives. i am pretty sure we will see it again.
it is a constant theme in north korea, so we should not jump to far in making conclusions about what it tells us about the present day. the generational change in the which james mentioned, in the six party congress kim jong-il himself said that there needed to be a change in the leadership to reflect changes in the composition of the party. the generations. suggested, you will probably see more of that this time than in the past, but this is not a brand-new thing. in fact, the turnover in the north korean leadership at each party congress tends to be, much more than you used to see, for example in the soviet party.
i do not remember where i saw this but i remember that i sought. jeff at one point said to the leader of north korea, i am jealous that you get to control all of these people, i am stuck with deadwood. it does not mean purges, it just means this is what they do in north korea, they change leadership. between the congresses, there is not frequently a lot of change. at congress, you may see suddenly the politburo will grow from the numbers we have now to, they may add six, or seven, or eight people. again, he is not packing the court. this is part of the tradition of the way that they operate. on reunification, i know in the documents that we were looking at, the hungarian ambassador in 1980 had unkind things to say about a proposal that the north koreans made for a democratic
republic. or the dprk, which did not look to be all that new. in fact, the hungarian ambassador said it is difficult to support it. i to support such a bull -- will not say the whole word, but that is what he said. he said the suggestion was not new. well actually, it was. it amazed the north koreans that people do not grasp it. the dprk was a new definition of three -- reunification. in the past, the north koreans had put forward the idea of the confederation as a way station, on the way to total unification. going through the phases of a confederation.
k was the definition of the new unification. and it held true through the 1980's, the concept allowed them to deal more directly, more openly, more formally with the republic of korea that, for example, in the late 1980's when the two prime ministers met, the north koreans referred to him by his proper title, the prime minister of the republic of korea. so my view was that, and as a matter of fact, i was around in 1960, i was doing the analysis groups of the congress and a remember chewing over this thing, but my view is that we might see something pretty important.
but subtle, at this congress, in terms of principles or underlying philosophy, which would then govern new initiatives toward south korea, even though things are terrible right now. but kim jong-un is looking in the long-term, he is going to leave her in the rearview mirror here in a few years, so he needs to have a philosophical basis for a new approach toward south korea. same thing with the economy, you may not yet see something quite as startling as gorbachev's approach at his party congress, but kim jong-un is already far down this road on this new philosophical basis on the economy. the problem is, it has not been codified, therefore those people who are operating in the markets
on the basis of this new idea, do not have any top cover. it could be ripped away at any moment, so nobody wants to go to far in risking their next on this stuff -- there necks on this. my question is, does he provide a philosophical basis that provides a floor, so that people are fairly confident that they have come to this new plateau and can operate from that level? he may not do it. i am not predicting, i am just saying that if we do get it it is liable to be a nuance, and people will think, we better look again. let me think. a couple of real simple things, and you are sure to see on the television, shots of the fireworks, or buildings that
have been painted and people will talk about how people were working 14 hours a day to clean up the city in order to make it pretty for the congress. the sixthdid that for congress and the fourth, so that is what they do. for us on the outside, we might think, what an extraordinary, depressing use of labor. north koreans are used to this and they grumble, they always grumble, they always grumble and nothing comes of it. so, i am not surprised. the city will look better. under kim jong-un, the character of the city has changed completely. that is external, i am not making moral judgment, i am just saying that the city looks very, very different.
it is filled with new buildings and new commercial establishments. is going to be a big parade, there always is. the fireworks are going to last however long, maybe one hour, two hours, three hours. in 1961, the hungarian ambassador noted it was an extraordinary display of fireworks, so extraordinary that the mongolians even asked to use the expertise of the north koreans. so this is part of the playbook that the north koreans have. they pull out the playbook from the last congress and they say, we did this, check, we did that. the question will be, what will kim jong-un do that is different, that will be interesting. his grandfather gave a six-hour speech for the sixth party conference. will this young man give a six-hour speech? or is he going to say after an hour and a half, ok.
we're done here. what hisch and see approach to organizing his party is like. thing, no, i guess that is it. i would just advise you to tune your antenna as you begin to see the press reports coming in and sort of mentally say to yourself, ok, i know that i happened before. i am not impressed. or oh, this looks new. i wonder what this is about. thank you. >> thanks, bob. [applause] >> since most of us are not qualified to ask these questions, what this is all about, maybe we will bring these gentlemen back in a week and let them tell us. before we open up the floor to the audience, i have a question of both of you. clarify if you will, why now?
why is this happening in may of 2016 as opposed to the conference two years ago when they held the last conference two years ago, or another 36 years? why was it necessary or beneficial to do it in the spring of 2016? bob: the first question is, why wasn't there one under kim-jong -- it is as if something needed to get back on track. kim jong-il under they needed to get back to the process of moving toward a normal situation with the party. the party conference was the first step of 2010.
the 2012 conference was too soon for there to be a congress for kim jong-un, but it was an important meeting. i am not quite so surprised that he is having one. i am not sure about the exact time, we never are. he may have, as suggested, he may have thought that things would be better with the south koreans and it would be more propitious. do not forget, last august there was an incident in the dmz, there was a kerfuffle and a buildup of tension and it suddenly resolved itself and it looked like south relations would move, might be moving ahead. and then they fell apart. i think the north koreans were very disappointed by that. so, kim has had to adjust, but he needed to have a congress.
if you wait for the right moment on the peninsula, you will be waiting a long time. james: i agree. as i said before, there was a process of restoring the party, the authority of the party, and the conferences again, they have had much more limited functions. there is only so much they can accomplish, so the congress was inevitable, something we could have predicted when they held these two conferences, because you had to replace the central -- at some point. conferences again, in theory, are supposed to replace up to 1/5 of the central committee.
so i think it was something that we should have expected. again, why now? who knows. but it is certainly something that we should have been aware, would have been in the works. >> one last question for me. the press reporting up to this conference, we have been warned about the baloney we are likely to read, so maybe i have been reading it already, but some of the press reporting as an aside -- emphasized the number of foreign delegations, including heads of state who have attended previous conferences. was that true of all previous
conferences? and assuming the speculation about the new conference is correct and that there will be very few, at least senior foreign leaders there, what if anything are we to make of that? >> what about all previous congresses? james: i believe there was one where they did not invite as many foreign delegates. it was either the fourth or the fifth, i do not remember. but certainly the eighth, there was a large number. mungabi was even there. he is still in control today. of course, there are only a few communist parties in the world today. so you expect there to be a smaller number of delegates. i suspect the number of
international press will make up for that. [laughter] james: for the smaller number of delegates and the communist parties. you know, i am seeing the same thing, that they expect very few people. i do not think that is an indication of -- indication delegitimizing the congress in any way. the attendance of foreign delegates was largely ceremonial and they would give these very celebratory speeches that really, there was very little substance. that was sort of the meat and bones, the real important stuff, the meat and potatoes of the congress started with the leaders.
the kim il-song speech for example, he spoke about the way forward for the party and that was often after the speeches delivered by foreign guest. we may expect it will be shorter because of the limited number of delegates from other countries. bob: i agree. fewer communist parties, so this is a communist party event, you do know what to invite heads of state, you invite party heads. and in one way, i think that north koreans are relieved, because they had a heck of a time figuring out the protocol for the chinese and the russians.
so now they do not have to worry about that. just looking ahead, it occurred to me, if you want to get some sense of the themes that will probably show up in kim jong-un's speech, on april 30 the government, the party, and the minor party, issued a joint statement declaring victory at the end of the usrok exercises. it is quite long and i think it will show how they are building up the military and that now provides the opportunity for them to concentrate on the economy, what they have accomplished in the economy, where they think they will go. i do not know if you can get a hold of it, it would be good to have, so that you can just check
through it and see how close it is and how much of a taste they want to give us ahead of time. these are the two sides. >> ok. let's open it to those in the room. i want to ask you to wait for a microphone, that you identify yourself, and that you keep comments or questions brief please. who would like to go first? kathy. i saw you, and i will go there and it. -- there next. kathy: thank you. it is great to learn something rather than to just comment on something. robert: we know who you are, but maybe not everybody. kathy: kathy moon, a former alumna of the wilson center. one comment and one question, the comments is regarding the question about the expectation
that there will be few foreign leaders. apart from the fact that it is a party event, it is also true that the u.s. and other countries, western countries, have been waging diplomatic pressure to vietnam, laos, and places like such to urge them not to send members or not to go at all. as part of diplomatic sanctions, one would say, not just economic sanctions that are in place. my understanding is that some of these countries, it is not like the u.s. is twisting there on, they are also set up and they --
fed up and they feel like they would look bad showing up to the event. that is that part. the question is, i have been curious, there are lots of people who will be defending -- descending upon north pyongyang from all over the country. who are these delegates? what do they do on a day-to-day, month to month, or year to year, or decade to decade level, besides the random conferences? they seem to have little occasion to meet. so what do they do? and what are they expected to do when they return to their local areas? expectations from the ruling elite. and also, might there be expectations from the local level that they are expected to meet. i am looking at them as a
bridge, anyway, not just as people who will go listen to kim jong-un and return home. they must be doing something, so what is it? bob: the party is the conveyor belt, the way that the center sends instructions down and gets feedback back again, that is why i think kim jong-un -- kim jong-il decided that was fine, but the military cannot do that. especially if you want to make progress with control, you need somebody who can listen to what is going on and transmit orders, so these people are the ones who are designated. if you are a central member and you are living in the province,
you have clout and you are listening to who is above you and you are listening. james: they come from local parties cells and committees, they are elected to go and represent. they used to be the one delegate for every 1000 members of the korean workers party, elected to go and attend the conference and then they would elect a central committee. and they go back and they give a full report on what occurred, they distribute materials of the congresses to the people, they hold local discussions and local party cells, transmitting the message. kathy: so where was this transition for 36 years? what were they doing?
bob: that was one of the problems that became more and more clear. that the machinery intended to facilitate the smooth operation of the economy and other things was being very creaky, because the center had no good way of reaching down and guiding what was going on. kim jong-il would go on these guidance things and so with the prime minister, but it was not working sufficiently for example, to re-energize the economy. don't forget also, they were still recovering from the famine. that just, that plays havoc with central control, right? robert: over here.
audience member: thank you for the very interesting talks. i am at the institute of america. i have questions on the upcoming congress. you mentioned about whether kim jong-un will provide a philosophical basis for the korean people. i wish you could elaborate more. i believe that north korea has endorsed the idea of kim jong-un supporting the idea of increasing the military and i forget the second one, but what other philosophical basis can he provided people?
the second question, so panels expects it will not be much different compared to previous congresses, if there were to be any differences in the upcoming congress, what can kim jong-un do and what kind of phrases can we expect from him if he wants to make differences, especially now when one of the toughest sanctions ever placed on north korea has occurred. and china is showing a different attitude compared to previous times. china is showing more willingness to cooperate with the u.s. government. so if there will be differences from kim jong-un, what kind of phrases and actions can we expect from this congress? robert: james, do you want to talk about the philosophical basis?
james: as you said, it all seems so temporary and at any moment it could be, they could all be kicked out and arrested. no, i do not think this'll be a philosophical basis, it will be a practical policy that originated in 1962. when kim l song decided in 1961. with the cuban missile crisis. he decided to further develop the military. so they scrapped the seven-year plan, which was supposed to focus on industry. instead, they decided to follow the heavy industry and
simultaneously develop military industries. this is a continuation of the thecy needed to secure external environment. this newome up with development. it has only come up in the last six months or so. -- itng on has very much has identified within. the concept is you don't need imports. replace it is better to a domestically made goods for the imports if, for example, that is amplified so that people to focus thed economy on domestic production.
maybe that would imply that they have more freedom to do that, that in order to make that work, they have to be given the incentives, etc., etc., etc. >> i am not maki any predictions. it is a wait and see. i do think he might have it. i have said this before. say our nuclear .ower is strong enough we have hydrogen bonds. therefore, we have enough of a defensive board that that part fulfilled and the other part is the economic development, which is what our focus will be. it gives them space to negotiate on it while they are focusing on the economy.
>> yes come over here. grace.ame is so the public support for kim --g-un is greater for greater than the higher genes. public aware of the sanctions? a lot of ngos are experiencing difficulty in funneling goods. how will sanctions play into that part of politics? >> if you look at that joint statement, where i talked on april 30th, they talk about, ho, ho, ho, the sanctions are actually good for us. like spinach, they make us work harder. you know, you can't catch me.
you would be like the roadrunner. they are not going to ignore it. ready forrying to get this is going to bite. we don't need the goodies coming in. we can live without it. i don't think they have felt it. still traffic jams in pyongyang, then i am amazed. and i don't know how much the regime will try to offer this stuff. i think they have already warned about the possibility of another arduous march, which is -- they talked about what they used to describe not only the famine, but the third or the fourth arduous march. the first being during kim il-sung's activities in manchuria. 1956.began in then they use it again during
the famine. but it is a period of really tightening the belt. just recently, they warned of the possibility of another arduous march. thatthink they realize they could hurt. they are not necessarily making secret of it. next? is hello, i was particularly interested when you talked about the reference to the confederation system and with the current relations regarding south korean and night -- and united states, it hasn't been very great with the peace talks and how north korea wouldn't be
nuclear eyes. bring you think they will that into the talks in terms of talking about their external foreign policy? >> last autumn, their stance was the armistice needs to be replaced and they need to discuss that with the united states. but they did not in any way, shape or form indicate that the nuclear issue could not be on the table. they were simply silent on that. the application being -- and fact, they said, as long as you ignore our proposals for dealing with the armistice, our nuclear strength is going to grow.
implicitly, if you deal with our proposal on the armistice, our .uclear strength will not grow you can put a leash on it. that is still out there. the question is only going to be whether -- i think -- whether he wants at a congress to make a formal proposal or, it sometimes happens -- for example in his new year's address, again, he lays the groundwork in a couple of sentences. five days later, the form of proposal comes out, which would be along the lines of how can you expect the nuclear issue to be resolved as long as there is no peace mechanism in place? we have to deal with that issue and then all concerns of the united states will be satisfied. and it's going to be up to the united states to decide whether this is something worth probing
or if, once again, they are going to throw it to the side and, as the president said, not good enough to come back with something better. want to be does not in the position of having something he proposes rejected. that is a bad idea. so leave it to somebody else. let the foreign ministry get rejected, you know? not about that, i completely .gree with that point rather than stick his neck out, he made references but then leave it for a broader proposal. i was thinking, as you were talking, bob, earlier about the that apple section of the speeches.
and i was sort of running through the congresses in my .ead every single congress, there was a bad apple component. there was a south korean communist to came up who was foreign minister after the establishment of the dp arcade. 56, it was the same. to the u.s.,on this is when the cult of personality was being criticized by the soviets. the north koreans denied the existence of a cold anymore, but they said that there had been a cold. when kim il-sung was asked why there was a kim il-sung square, he said i can't explain. anti-partyu have a -- the event of 1956 being discussed as a net equity group. 1970, you have the last group
that was purged. and it was from this time that you have, of course, the monolithic or military leadership system that is eliminate a way to different opinions in the party. it's usually when you have different opinions -- this is part of the book. notion ofhis factionalism in the party that continues -- of the lens through which we view north korean politics today. and if you look at each of these cases where kim il-sung and his successors are talking about factions, it is more difference of opinions. it is not so much -- you know, you don't have these horizontal and organizational grouping agents to create factions.
that are being advanced. and it is against those of the leader, the people are purged and these factions become realities and they make it into the bad apple part of the speech . we need to develop an understanding of how north korean politics work. because again, we continue to view north korean politics through this lens of rivalry and conflict. it leads us to question the legitimacy of the leaders and their strength. comments.uestions, don't be bashful. yes, sir. a microphone coming right over the table. or behind you.
>> thank you very much. i don't know very much about the north korean system, but system,y in the soviet there is a party structure and there is a government structure during so at every level, there would be -- if it is the same, if it is similar to mother would be able in the north korean system running things. so it seems to me that what happens is simply that the party structure, which is supposed to provide oversight and vigilance and all of this sort of stuff has simply atrophied. their efforts to re-strengthen it again reinvigorated again perhaps because the governmental structure has not been producing results. would you comment on that?
>> axa, this red expert thing is pretty interesting in north korea because there were some signs that kim jong-il and subsequently i think can jump on -- kim jong-un was giving the nod to the government to actually take control of some of this economic development, implicitly telling the party and the ideological types stay out of this. this is for the government to do. it's never been clear how sharp -- to the outside, how sharply the division was and how carefully it was reinforced. so maybe that is something else this congress, to see if somehow the implication is that expertise should be allowed to flourish and ideology has its place, but shouldn't be
running the whole show. yes. >> thank you very much. i have read some chinese reports , news reports, kind of complaining that the communist party leadership has not been invited or had not been --cussed at all with the prk d prk communist party. i want to know what is your view relationship.prk do you think kim jong-un is interested in improving relationships with beijing? >> where to start. >> i imagine both of you have something to say.
james? >> how much time do we have? -- thing to be mindful of is this is something that comes out -- in mergers through an analysis of the documents of the past 70 years. the relationship between china and north korea, despite what we think in washington, by the propaganda, that they are as close as lips and teeth. there really is a profound sense of mistrust going both ways. but especially in pyongyang toward beijing. there is a sense that china has overly interventionist over the years, meddling in north korea affairs in more than one occasion. there is also the sense that china is less than respectful of north korean 17 -- north korean sovereignty.