In KCNA’s piece on Kim Jong Il’s passing, we note that in both the Korean and English versions, the order in which institutions are cited are as follows:
“The WPK Central Committee and Central Military Commission, DPRK National Defence Commission, Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly and Cabinet released a notice on Saturday informing the WPK members, servicepersons and all other people of his passing away.” (KCNA December 19, 2011)
We wonder if this is something interesting indicating the role the NDC might play in this new political landscape. The National Defense Commission was Kim Jong Il’s institution of choice for managing the country. As most institutions did not communicate much with each other (stove-piping of bureaucracies), the NDC was central to decision-making. The NDC was never fully formalized and even until our last few trips to North Korea, it still seemed to lack a large bureaucracy supporting it. It is also often misunderstood as a military body, even though its membership is comprised of party and military elements.Kim Jong Eun is not on the NDC, while many of North Korea’s big names are (e.g. Jang Sung Taek). It will be interesting to see what happens to the NDC over time.