N. Korean elite jockey for job assignments in Pyongyang’s new Hwasong District
Following a recent decision to elevate Pyongyang’s Hwasong area to “district” status, North Korean authorities have been busy organizing administrative units in the new district.
Pyongyangites are already calling the new district their city’s “Second Central District,” a nod to the capital’s Central District, a special zone where only high-ranking cadres reside. Not surprisingly, cadres and officials in Pyongyang are waging a fierce competition among themselves to get assigned to jobs in the new district.
A source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on May 31 that the authorities have begun work on organizing Hwasong District’s administrative components, including its party committee, people’s committee and local branches of the Ministry of Social Security, Ministry of State Security and prosecutor’s office.
The organizing of these administrative units will take place in two phases. The first phase to organize upper-level organizations will continue until the end of July, while the second phase to fill out subordinate and lower-level organizations should be completed by the end of November.
KCNA reported on May 15 that the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly had decided to elevate the Hwasong area into Hwasong District, and that the Cabinet and other related bodies would craft the necessary working-level measures to implement the decision.
North Korea has been carrying out a large-scale housing project in the Hwasong area as part of the country’s plan — presented during the Eighth Party Congress early last year — to build 50,000 housing units in Pyongyang.
The Hwasong housing project follows efforts to construct houses in Pyongyang’s Songin and Songhwa areas.
The home and office of late North Korean founder Kim Il Sung was in Hwasong, and the area is home to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the mausoleum of Kim and his son, late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. During the groundbreaking event to launch the Hwasong housing project in February, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the area the “sacred ground of the Sun,” a reference to his grandfather Kim Il Sung.
With North Korea granting Hwasong “sacred” significance due to its links with the Kim family, along with unveiling plans to make the neighborhood a central part of the capital by designating it a new administrative district, Pyongyang residents think the area will become “privileged ground” second only to the city’s Central District.
In fact, wealthy Pyongyangites have reportedly begun purchasing investment properties in Hwasong, paying in dollars to gain residency in the district.
Government officials and cadres are aggressively applying to work in Hwasong District, too.
The authorities plan to give cadres who work for Pyongyang’s existing regional organizations preferential treatment during the selection and assignment process for Hwasong’s new party and people’s committees.
Ordinarily, in the case of Pyongyang’s downtown districts, the authorities unilaterally appoint and assign cadres or draw cadres from certain privileged bodies. In this case, however, the authorities are basically giving cadres and workers from all over Pyongyang a chance to work in Hwasong District.
This suggests the authorities intend to promote Kim’s “love of the people” by granting people of different classes an opportunity to live and work in the district.
That being said, the authorities are still applying strict standards for would-be Hwasong District employees. Aspirants need to receive recommendations from their current employers and be free of trouble in their ideology, professional careers and family lives.
Nevertheless, cadres and workers are competing for spots in hopes that they can also receive a home in Hwasong if they are assigned to work in the district.
“People think that since [Hwasong] has been made a key district of the city that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Central District, [people living there will] receive many privileges,” said the source in Pyongyang. “People are scrambling to get assigned to organizations in Hwasong, even paying bribes. That’s because opportunities for promotion, ration benefits and opportunities for preferential treatment depend on which district you work in.”
Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.
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