Updated June 4 at 14:00 KST to include evidence from a May 28 Korean Central Television (KCTV) broadcast on the ministry’s name change.
North Korea has likely changed the name of its Ministry of People’s Security back to “Ministry of Social Security,” a state media report showed this week, in what represents a notable rebranding of one of the DPRK’s top policing bodies.
The news follows the reported replacement of the ministry’s top official, with South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) saying in February that Choe Pu Il had been replaced by Kim Jong Ho.
The externally-focused state media outlet Ryugyong on Tuesday named the “Ministry of Social Security” among a list of ministries, restaurants, and factories contributing to the construction of the new Pyongyang General Hospital.
“Ministry of Social Security proceeded with support at a large scale,” the Ryugyong article said, citing the newly-named ministry first among other contributors.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency also on Wednesday reported that the Korean Central Broadcasting Committee, the DPRK’s state-run radio, had mentioned the new ministry name, also referring to its support for the hospital construction.
Seoul’s MOU describes the ministry as one of “three pillars” tasked with ensuring the security of the North Korean state, alongside the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and the Ministry of State Security.
More evidence of North Korea’s recent name change of the Ministry of People’s Security (인민보안성) back to Ministry of Social Security (사회안전성)
— Colin Zwirko (@ColinZwirko) June 4, 2020
It has undergone a number of name changes since its creation in 1945, having been renamed Ministry of People’s Security in 2016.
This is also not the first time that the ministry has been called “Ministry of Social Security,” however.
The name was also used after 1998, according to the MOU, having been called “Social Security Bureau” since 1972, before being re-named to the Ministry of People’s Security” two years later.
“The renaming in 2000 was presented not just as a name change, but as an abolition of the previous institution and the creation of a new one from scratch,” said Fyodor Tertitskiy, a senior researcher at Seoul’s Kookmin University.
“Unfortunately, North Korea is such a close society that one cannot say if they are doing it again or the previous name just was not to Kim Jong Un’s liking,” he added.
It remains unclear, Tertitiskiy added, if the name change is related to recent personnel changes at the top of the organization.
“The most logical approach now would be to track possible changes in the high elite and attempt to talk to North Koreans on the ground or outside the country,” he said. “If the change is massive, rumors will spread.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Updated June 4 at 14:00 KST to include evidence from a May 28 Korean Central Television (KCTV) broadcast on the ministry's name change.
North Korea has likely changed the name of its Ministry of People's Security back to "Ministry of Social Security," a state media report showed this week, in what represents a notable rebranding of one of the DPRK's top policing bodies.