[EXCLUSIVE] Lee Jungrok replaces Kim Won-hong as Minister of State Security
Who is Lee Jungrok, and how did he get promoted to Minister of State Security?
This is Part 2 of a two-part analysis. Read Part 1 here.
According to a New Focus correspondent inside North Korea, former Minister of State Security (now deputy Chief of Organisation in the General Politburo) Kim Won-hong has been replaced by a man identified as Lee Jungrok.
However, Lee’s appointment may only be temporary. “Lee Jungrok has worked in the State Security Department his entire career, maturing through various positions. He is the son-in-law of Lee Jinsu, a former Minister of State Security. By using his connections, he has been able to acquire countless bribes, and used the money to make a great deal of profits through his own business in currency brokerage,” the correspondent said.
During the Arduous March, a burglar broke into Lee Jungrok’s home, taking USD200,000 as well as stabbing Lee’s wife. Lee Jungrok, keen to hide the history of his corrupt activities, used his father-in-law Lee Jinsu’s connections to make a false report claiming that the burglar was actually a vengeful dissident of the state who held a grudge against the State Security Department.
Lee Jungrok is widely known and resented amongst North Korean officials, according to testimony from previous workers in the State Security Department dispatched overseas. He travelled to China frequently, especially to Shenyang and Dalian, staying at the five-star Kempinski Hotel in Shenyang and demanding bribes and sexual favours from dispatched labourers, many from his own Department.
Further, he is rumoured to have covert ties with the Japanese government, claiming that he offered classified information unfavourable to the North Korean state in return for money, aggravating the prolonged dispute between the two countries. To this day, Japan and North Korea have made no progress in negotiating the return of kidnapped Japanese citizens. At the time of the closed-door meetings, Lee was a undercover diplomat.
Will Lee Jungrok permanently become the next Minister of State Security? The correspondent replied, “Unfortunately, Lee Jungrok is not an attractive candidate for the job. Not only does he have a bad reputation, but he has done too much damage to his name to ever warrant a serious leadership position. He will inevitably meet a brutal end, probably the worst of all previous State Security Department Ministers.”
Read in Korean.