Organization and Guidance Department

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Organization and Guidance Department
WPK Emblem.svg
Emblem of the Workers' Party of Korea
Agency overview
Formed15 September 1948
Preceding agency
JurisdictionParty, state and military
HeadquartersPyongyang, North Korea
Agency executives
Parent agencyCentral Committee
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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
North Korea
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The Organization and Guidance Department (OGD) is a department of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), the ruling party of North Korea. Its central responsibility is to implement the directives and teachings of the Suryeong [Great Leader], Kim Jong-un.[1][2] The department was initially a department within the WPK General Affairs Department, but eventually spun off and was established at the 3rd Plenary Session of the 2nd Central Committee as the Organization Committee.[3]


The OGD is a powerful department of the WPK that guides the implementation of all Party life policy, which extends to nearly every aspect of life in North Korea from civilian, to military, to government.[4][2][1] Policy is based on the will of the Suryong (Supreme Leader).[2] The OGD also serves as the staff for the Central Committee and Central Military Committee, and controls key personnel in the government, WPK, and Korean People's Army (KPA).[5][4][1] This control stems from the OGD's power to select and dismiss high ranking officials based on the monitoring it does, records it collects, and investigations it runs, making it one of the most powerful and feared departments of the WPK.[1]

The OGD is also responsible for administering party life guidance to secure loyalty to the Kim regime and maintain Party ideology, overseeing guidance implementation down to a local and even workplace level.[1] It does this though local Organization Departments, which are a part of every KWP Committee and have political power due to their close link to the OGD.[1] Since every North Korean citizen experiences party life in some form, regardless of actually joining the party, the OGD and its guidance have a direct effect on the lives of every North Korean from the highest to lowest level.[1]


Due to a lack of information on the OGD from the North Korean government, there is a heavy reliance on defector testemony and expert analysis. Polish political scientist Nicolas Levi refers to the OGD as "The heart of the North Korean political system".[6] According to North Korean defector Jang Jin-sung, the OGD is "the only entity that actually matters when it comes to decision-making or policy-making" and reflects the autocratic structure of the government.[7]  Hwang Jang-yop, another high-ranking defector, stated that the leading figures of North Korea belong to the OGD.[6] Its officials regularly accompany the Supreme Leader during inspections and field guidance appearances.[6] Some of its powers were given to the WPK Administrative Department (AD), in a bid to weaken the influence of those working in the OGD.[2] However the AD itself was abolished in February 2014, after the execution of the AD Head Jang Song-thaek.[8]

Some scholars and defectors argue that the leaders of the OGD are the real leaders of North Korea, that Kim Jong-un is a puppet.[9] [10] North Korean defector Jang Jin-sung argues that Hwang Pyong-so, the First Deputy Head of the OGD, through his post as Director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People's Army, was the real ruler of the country because he controlled the appointments and dismissals of military officers.[10] However, none of the three following GPB Directors, Choe Ryong-hae, Kim Jong-gak and now Kim Su-gil, have been seen as true leaders of North Korea. Robert Collins at the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea maintains that the OGD truly implements directives of the Supreme Leader, and Michael Madden of the North Korea Leadership Watch concludes the OGD is not powerful enough to introduce directives itself.[10] [1]


High ranking members of the OGD have significant power in the WPK. The director is often referred to as the second most powerful figure in the country, exemplified by the first director of the OGD being Kim Il-sung, the founder of the North Korean state,[3] and his successor, Kim Jong-il (the Party General Secretary from 1997 to 2011) directing the OGD from September 1973 until his death in 2011.[2] Under Kim Jong-il's stewardship, the OGD was turned into a center of power within the WPK.[2] Therefore, OGD first deputy directors and deputy directors are leading figures within the North Korean establishment. Their position affords them privileges and a degree of secrecy that makes them "a kind of elite priesthood in the DPRK." [2] Officials working within the OGD are not under the jurisdiction of state law or party bylaws, after a memorandum issued by Kim Jong-il in the 1980's turned the OGD into a partially secret organization.[2] Sanctions against deputy heads are kept confidential from the rest of the party.[2] Although lower ranking members of the OGD don't have these privileges to the same extent, any member of the OGD is considered to be in a position of power and privilege.[1]

Due to the Kim family's lack of trust in the elite, members of the OGD, especially directors and deputy directors, are under constant and heavy surveillance and can be dismissed at any time for any reason by the Supreme Leader.[1] He, as the head of every chain of leadership, has the final word on dismissals; for instance, in the 1990s Yun Sung-kwan, as deputy head, assumed control over the affairs of the OGD for two years, but was removed when Kim Jong-il believed he had amassed too much power.[2] A similar case took place in 2003, when Jang Song-thaek was dismissed.[2]

Ri Man-Gon, the last known OGD Director, was dismissed in February 2020 by the Politburo from his position as WPK Vice-Chairman, and likely as OGD Director as well.[11] This was due to, according to the North Korean Central News Agency, an abuse of power and corruption scandal in the WPK.[11][12] The current OGD Director is unknown.

First deputy directors (as of 2020)

  • General Kim Kyong-ok: An OGD Deputy Director since 2007 and KWP Deputy Director since 1991, General Kim is deeply involved in the Party and the Kim Regime.[1] Kim Jong-un's security is his responsibility. Having no formal military training, General Kim was appointed General in 2010 in an effort to put civilian leadership at the head of the army.[1][4] General Kim seems to be a trusted member of the Kim family, accompanying Kim Jong-un on many of his public inspections.[4] In 2016 he was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury (OFAC).[13]
  • General Ri Byong-chol:[4] He has served for over four decades in the KPA, rising up the ranks to four star general in 2010.[1] In addition to his position as OGD First Deputy Director, he is also a Deputy Director at the KWP Munitions Industry Department which is responsible for all weapons development in North Korea.[1][14] Thus, he plays an active part in overseeing the research and production of weapons of mass destruction as well as making decisions regarding personnel in the military and weapons programs.[15] General Ri has both military and senior Party experience, and is a trusted advisor to the Kim family, especially in times of crisis.[16] In 2017 he was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury (OFAC).[17]
  • Kim Jo-guk: Kim Jo-guk surfaced in 2019 as a OGD First Deputy Director.[1] He is reportedly responsible for military affairs.[4]

Deputy directors (as of 2020)

  • Hwang Pyong-so:[4][18] Fired from the General Political Bureau in 2017 for corruption, Hwang was retained as OGD Vice-Director after three months of "Revolutionary Rehabilitation".[1][19] Despite a lack of formal military training, he has significant influence over the military and frequently accompanies Kim Jong-un on military related visits.[1] In 2017 Hwang was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury (OFAC).[20]
  • Jo Yong-won:[21] In 2014 Jo Yong-won began appearing on the political scene, attending senior level meetings, advising Kim Jong-un, and accompanying Kim Jong-un to inspections.[1] He is believed to be Kim Jong-un's Personal Action Officer within the OGD.[1] In 2017 he was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury (OFAC).[13]
  • Min Byong-chol: He is head of the OGD Inspection Section, one of the most feared institutions for its power to investigate any individual and send reports to the Supreme Leader.[1] In 2017 he was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury (OFAC).
  • Kim Yo-jong: As Kim Jong-un's sister, Kim Yo-jong is often thought to be a deputy director of the OGD, although there is no official confirmation.[4][22] In 2017 she was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury (OFAC).[13]


The OGD is the largest department under the WPK Executive Policy Bureau, with a personnel of 1,000 and an estimated 25 deputy directors employed in its central sections.[25] Sections under the OGD often overlap with other organizations within the WPK.[1][2] This ensures security in the WPK and the OGD's power across the WPK.[2] Due to the OGD's level of secrecy, it is difficult to track the various offices and sections, which are often referred to by slightly different names.[1][2] Below is a list of known sections under the OGD.


  • Party Headquarters Committee: guides all party elements. This entails training all party members (excepting the Supreme Leader) and overseeing surveillance of WPK Central Committee workers and their families.[26][25] Members work in the various elements of the WPK EPB, including the Propaganda and Agitation Department, Party Registration, reports section, and the finance section among others.[1]
  • Party Life Guidance Section: responsible for guiding party life of every North Korean citizen, working in the military, party elements, and local levels throughout the general population.[1] Guidance from the PLG is disseminated to every organization, ensuring it is able to monitor and control the general public's adherence to the guidance.[1][16] It was referred to as the eyes, ears and heart of the WPK by Kim Jong-il.[1] Also under the PLG is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all foreign trade organizations.[1]
  • Military Directorate: guides party and political life of all military members through control of unit leaders.[1]
  • Cadre Section: controls the selection, appointment, and dismissal of high ranking officials as well as Supreme Leader's personal staff by gauging political loyalty.[1] This means the Cadre Section manages and assess all activities and records of officials and their families.[1][27]
  • Seventh Section: formerly the Administrative Department, the Seventh Section has authority over the entire judicial system.[1] Through embedded officers, it oversees the operations of the Ministry of Peoples Security, as well as the Ministry of State Security[28] The Seventh Section is also directly connected to North Korea's prison system, as the chain of command from individual prison camps up to the Supreme Leader must run through the Seventh Section.[28]
  • Inspection Section: the most feared institution in Korea, the Inspection Section has the power to investigate any person in any organization.[1] The OGD's ability to dismiss officials stems from the Inspection Section.[1] While it works in conjunction with the PLG to investigate N. Koreans at every level, it has the final word on all investigations.[1]
  • Supreme Leader's Personal Secretariat: responsible for the Supreme Leader's personal matters from protocol and calendar, to security, to education and family finances.[1]
  • Party Member Registration Section: handles Party registration and occupation as well as party expulsions and international dispatch.[1]
  • General Affairs Section: responsible for administrative work for the OGD[1]
  • Reports Section: collects and manages all OGD reports to centralize them to the Supreme Leader[25]
  • Petitions Section: evaluates petitions from all N. Korean citizens[1]
  • Mass Party Directorate: deploys OGD personnel to local levels to ensure adherence to guidance[1]
  • Section 65: specially selects and trains women for the "Joy Brigade" in horticulture, hairdressing, and masseuse training.[1]
  • Three Revolutionary Teams Guidance Section: monitors open market activity in N. Korea[29]
  • Ten Principles of Monolithic Ideology Section: guides implementation of the TPMI[29]
  • Overseas Guidance Section: guides overseas organizations[29]
  • 8.9 Section: responsible for managing Mansudae Palace and Financial Management Department[29]
  • Treaty Section: monitors and oversees strategy for engagement in international treaties[29]
  • Office 80: monitors and oversees Kim Jong-un's bodyguard unit, Unit 974.[30]

Human rights[edit]

The OGD plays a role in North Korea's notorious human rights violations.[31] Monitoring North Korea's human rights policy, although not a formal designation, falls under the responsibility of the OGD, which administers and guides North Korea's policy of human rights denial.[16][1] The OGD's control over Party life through Organization Departments at a local level allows it to record and punish any North Korean who does not adhere to policy.[16] [1] North Koreans can be removed from positions of power, receive reeducation, or in severe cases be denied access to the food and medical systems or even send citizens to prison or labor camps.[1]


In 2017 United Nations (UN) Security Council sanctioned the OGD as well as key leadership: Min Byong-chol (OGD Deputy Director as of 2020), Jo Yon-jun (former OGD Deputy Director), Kim Kyong-ok (OGD First Director as of 2020), and Jo Yong-won (Deputy Director as of 2020).[32]

In 2016 the United States put North Korean human rights on its agenda, with the US Treasury placing sanctions on the OGD itself as well as Jo Yon-jun, Kim Kyong-ok and several other members of North Korean leadership who were added to the Office of Foreign Assets Control Specially Designated Nationals List (OFAC SDN) for human rights abuses.[1][33] Later in 2017, Min Byong-chol, Jo Yong-won, and Kim Yo-jong were added to the OFAC SDN list for human rights abuses as well.[13]

South Korea sanctioned Hwang Pyong-so (OGD Deputy Director as of 2020) in 2016 and implemented the above mentioned UN sanctions.[34]

In 2017, the United Kingdom put its own additional sanctions on the OGD and the same individuals.[35]

Future viability[edit]

The stability of the Kim Regime depends on the Party obligations that are largely created and enforced by the OGD, according to the Korean Institute for National Unification.[25] Thus, the OGD is integral to the regime's survival. As assessed by Robert Collins, former Chief of Strategy at R.O.K.- U.S. Combined Forces Command, there are external threats that could put strain on the OGD such as a manmade or natural disaster, or rebellion or war. Internal corruption, competition, and stress due to the OGD's wide responsibility also have potential to strain the OGD.[1]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as Collins, Robert. "North Korea's Organization and Guidance Department" (PDF). HRNK. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Madden, Michael (October 2009). "KWP Central Committee Organization and Guidance Department" (PDF). North Korea Leadership Watch. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b Suh 1988, p. 92.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Levi, Nicholas (Dec 2019). "A historical approach to the leadership of the Organisation and Guidance Department of the Workers' Party of Korea". 32. Retrieved 16 July 2020. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ U.S. Department of the Treasury. "Treasury Sanctions North Korean Senior Officials and Entities Associated with Human Rights Abuses". U.S. Department of the Treasury. United States Government. Retrieved 17 July 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Levi, Nicolas (27 June 2013). "The Organization and Guidance Department". New Focus International. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  7. ^ Ye-seul, Suh (19 May 2014). "'Worker's Party holds the real power in North Korea'". Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  8. ^ Lipes, Joshua (8 April 2014). "Senior Officials From Dismantled North Korean Department Demoted". Radio Free Asia. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  9. ^ Jang Jin-sung (2014). Dear Leader: Poet, Spy, Escapee—A Look Inside North Korea. 37 Ink. ISBN 978-1476766553.
  10. ^ a b c Madden, Michael; Jang, Jin-sung; Green, Christopher (27 May 2014). "Kim Jong-un: North Korea's supreme leader or state puppet?". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Political Bureau Meeting Held". NK Leadership Watch. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  12. ^ "Kim Jong Un sacks top officials for "corruption" in meeting on coronavirus". NK News. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  13. ^ a b c d Office of Foreign Access Control. "SDN BY PROGRAMS". treasury. US Treasury. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  14. ^ Lee, Sang-Hyeon (January 13, 2015). "North Korea's Ri Byong-chol Appointed KWP First Vice-Director". Yonhap News. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  15. ^ North Korea Leadership Watch. "Ri Pyong-chol". North Korea Leadership Watch. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  16. ^ a b c d Collins, Robert. "Pyongyang Republic" (PDF). HRNK. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  17. ^ "North Korea missile developers hit by US sanctions". BBC. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Hwang Pyong-so". North Korea Leadership Watch. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  19. ^ ""N. Korea conducts rare inspection of key military organ: spy agency". Yonhap News. 20 Nov 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  20. ^ Shim, Elizabeth. "U.S. sanctions on North Korea target officials close to Kim Jong Un". UPI. Retrieved 5 August 2020.
  21. ^ Minyoung Lee, Rachel. "Jo Yong Won, the mainstay of the Organization and Guidance Department: a profile". NK News. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  22. ^ Oh, Gyeong-Seob. "The Political Status and Role of Kim Yo-jong" (PDF). Korean Institute for National Unification. Retrieved 24 July 2020.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "Choe Ryong Hae to OGD? [revised 13 JAN 2018]". North Korea Leadership Watch. 13 January 2018. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  24. ^ "Central Message Meeting Held". North Korea Leadership Watch. 9 September 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  25. ^ a b c d Jung Young-Tae (2007). "Joint Study of the Realities and Changes in Organizational Culture of Organizations in North Korea": 42–43. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  26. ^ Cheong Seong-Chang (2011). The Contemporary North Korean Politics: History, Ideology and Power System. Hanul Publishing.
  27. ^ Hyun Seong-Il (Aug 1998). KWP’s Control System Over North Korean Society. North Korean Research Studies.
  28. ^ a b Collins, Robert. "From Cradle to Grave" (PDF). HRNK. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  29. ^ a b c d e Jang. ""Exposing North Korea's Monster That Led the Execution of Jang Song-taek, the Party's OGD,". Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  30. ^ Kim, Hong-bae. "Secret of 974 Guard Unit for Kim Jong-un Wrapped in a Veil". Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  31. ^ United Nations. "Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea". United Nations Human Rights Council. United Nations. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  32. ^ United Nations Security Council. "The List established and maintained pursuant to Security Council res. 1718 (2006)". United Nations. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  33. ^ Office of Foreign Access Control. "North Korea Designations". US Department of the Treasury. US Treasury. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  34. ^ "Korea, 36 additional sanctions including Hwang Byeong-seo and Choi Ryong-hae". Radio Free Asia. December 2, 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  35. ^ Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation, HM Treasury. "CONSOLIDATED LIST OF FINANCIAL SANCTIONS TARGETS IN THE UK" (PDF). HM Treasury. Retrieved 25 July 2020.


External links[edit]