Women’s Union Officials, Members Visit Kim Jong Suk’s Birthplace in Hoeryong

According to the Rodong Sinmun, “officials and members of the Korea Democratic Women’s Union from Pyongyang and local areas visited the birthplace of anti-Japanese war hero Kim Jong Suk in Hoeryong on Thursday, her 98th birth anniversary (according to the North Korean propaganda 24th December 1917). In reality she’s born on the 14th December 1919.

According to the North Korean daily newspaper, they were “briefed on the story telling how Kim Jong Suk grew to be a revolutionary, they went round mementoes preserved at her old home at the foot of Osan Hill”. Then “they went to the Hoeryong Revolutionary Museum to learn about the revolutionary exploits of the woman commander of Mt. Paektu. They also visited Mangyang Ferry through which she crossed the Tuman River in her early years with sorrow as a member of the stateless nation and with hatred toward the Japanese imperialists.They also went round Kim Ki Song Hoeryong Senior Secondary School, Hoeryong Foodstuff-processing Factory and Hoeryong Koryo Medicine Pharmaceutical Factory which are associated with the exploits of leader Kim Jong Il on the same day.”

Kim Jong-suk (1919-1949) was a Korean anti-Japanese guerrilla, a Communist activist, North Korean leader Kim Il-sung’s first wife, former leader Kim Jong-il’s mother, and current leader Kim Jong-un’s grandmother.

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Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-suk (starting from the left side). Source: Nicolas Levi

What is the KDWU?

This organization was created on the 18th November 1945. The KDWU  (조선민주여성동맹 / chosonminjuyosongteongmaeng )  is an organization whose power was very high especially in the 1970s. During these times, the organization was involved not only in propaganda matters but also in economic ventures. According to a defector that I met two years ago, this organization was sometimes even more powerful than some cells of the Party on a micro-economic scale. This was due to the leadership of Kim Sung Ae, one of the wives of Kim Il Sung, who was at the head of the KDWU in the 1960s.

Kim Sung -ae (the second wife of Kim Il-sung) increased the activities of this organization because she wanted to expand her power base. As mother–in-law to Kim Jong-il and Kim Kyung-hee (the younger sister of Kim Jong-il, she was not appreciated by either of them. Therefore she lost her position and was put under the control of Kim Kyung-hee, who supervised her between 1971 and 1975. During these years, Kim Kyung-hee increased her role in the KDWU. Kim Sung-ae was nevertheless reinstated to a similar position in 1993, but her duties were symbolic. She was forced to retire in 1998.

One of the latest secretary of the KDWU was Ro Song-sil, a member of the network of Jang Sung-thaek. 

rosongsilkdwu

As of now, the KDWU is a powerful political and economic structure managing North Korean companies. The KDWU has branchs in main North Korean cities.

Nicolas Levi

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