Exclusive: North Korea’s State Security and People’s Security ministries implement ‘9.8 Measures’
North Korea’s Ministry of State Security (MSS) and Ministry of People’s Security (MPS) begun implementation of an internal joint strategy dubbed the ‘9.8 Measures’ in November 2014, according to New Focus’ sources.
The ‘9.8 Measures’ are said to refer to the date of an instruction first ratified in the name of Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un on September 8, 2013. The ratification called for “a specific course of action to be formulated in the sweeping out of impure and hostile elements”.
This term refers to those deemed to be engaged in behaviours and actions not aligned with the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP) system.
In order to facilitate the implementation of the instruction, additional orders issued in the name of the Central Military Committee and Central Committee were distributed to the State Security and People’s Security ministries, in seven batches from the period of October 2013 to September 2014.
Further instructions ratified in the name of Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un continue to be issued to the MSS and MPS regarding these measures at the rate of two to three times a month.
In the Supreme Leader Centred System of North Korea where the absolute KWP rule of the DPRK leadership in the Organisation and Guidance Department (OGD) depends on the legitimacy of ‘the ruling Kim’s absolute and divine authority’, the most important decisions and commands of the state are ratified, issued and its implementations monitored according to the law and systemic principles of the ‘Supreme Leader’s divinity’.
Even during the period of Kim Il Sung’s reign, a decision made by OGD Secretary Kim Jong Il or specifics of implementation decided upon by the OGD were issued to relevant institutions in the name and authority of Supreme Leader Kim Il Sung.
Of the orders relating to the 9.8 Measures, the most forceful was issued on September 2014 in the joint authority of the Central Military Committee and Central Committee. This order put an emphasis on internal and procedural militarisation, and called for “stronger principles, internal regulations and order within the State Security and People’s Security organs, such that their functions and capacities as entities upholding the state system are enhanced to the greatest degree”.
Following this instruction, “militarisation of State Security” and “militarisation of People’s Security” were introduced as institutional slogans, reinforcing the normalisation of martial law applied in defence of the state. The first to be negatively affected by these changes are said to have been soldiers under the organisational command of the MSS and MPS.
In the past, discreet operations were the norm for these soldiers due to their professional duty of human surveillance, which correspondingly offered loopholes used to elude the total command and control of KWP Organisational Life-Conduct, which governs all KWP members.
More recently, with the ramping up of internal restrictions, the ongoing need to show results, and compounded by the demands of internal militarisation, errors or negligence in the work of human surveillance has led to sizeable numbers of soldiers facing KWP expulsion, discharge or banishment.
With social command and control and mass human surveillance remaining at the heart of these new slogans and measures, acts regarded as human rights violations such as extrajudicial public executions meted out for political infringements continue to be systematically sanctioned, and are being regarded as more institutionally acceptable under Kim Jong Un than under the rule of Kim Jong Il.
The joint command issued by the Central Military Committee and Central Committee claimed that the order stemmed from a conversation that took place between the Minister of State Security Kim Won Hong and Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un in October 2013, thereby stressing the perceptible authority of these public offices.
It read, “most criminals who are forgiven are likely to commit another crime” and that “the time has come when words are not enough. The sound of gunshot must accompany the destruction of impure and hostile elements, and when necessary, public executions are to be used so that the masses come to their senses”. It also ratified the extra-judicial clause, “if an anti-regime act is uncovered, State Security soldiers are to judge and execute by gunfire of their own accord, and afterwards file a report on the person and crime to Pyongyang”.
The instructions additionally read, “gunfire must be made to resound in order to totally rip from the roots acts such as illegal border activities, flights to the south and smuggling operations” and that “those who attempted to leave during the mourning period of Kim Jong Il must be executed by firing squad and their seed thoroughly annihilated”.
It also stressed the need to prevent further escapes in order to limit international criticism, and read “State Security must take measures to ensure that the talk on ‘human trafficking’ and ‘river-crossings’ by foreigners abroad is not renewed”.
To implement this instruction, several newly formed organisations controlled by the Ministry of State Security, which in April 2012 took over the command authority of military troops stationed in the border regions near China, have established offices in Pyongyang and the border regions to seek out escapees, mount operations to bring defectors back to North Korea through coercion or persuasion, gather information and maintain files on defectors, trace their phone calls and correspondence, and maintain special oversight over defectors’ remaining family members in North Korea.
The institutional slogans “militarisation of State Security” and “militarisation of People’s Security” do not simply imply the strengthening of internal control and order within the respective surveillance departments, according to our sources, but renews privileges for these entities to deal with the public via martial law, which the ongoing declaration of Songun (Military-First) had formalised into the state’s ideological argument.
Until such a time that orders issued in the authority of the Central Military Committee and Central Committee are jointly withdrawn, it is thought that the MSS-MPS internal ‘9.8 Measures’ will continue to enforce alignment with the state by way of fear and means of forceful violation.