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North Korea - Mass Organizations
All mass organizations are guided and controlled by the party. A number of political and social organizations appear concerned with the promotion of special interest groups but actually serve as auxiliaries to the party. Many of these organizations were founded in the early years of the KWP to serve as vehicles for the party's efforts to penetrate a broader cross section of the population.
Mass organizations have another important function: to create the impression that there are noncommunist social, political, cultural, and professional groups that can work with their South Korean counterparts toward national reunification. Most of these organizations were established to develop a unified strategy in dealing with the ruling establishment of South Korea and other foreign countries and organizations. As of July 1992, these included the Korean Social Democratic Party headed by Yi Kyepaek ; the Chondoist Chongu Party headed by Chong Sin-hyok, the Socialist Working Youth League (SWYL) headed by Ch'oe Yong- hae; the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland headed by Yun Ki-pok; the Korean Democratic Women's Union headed by Kim Il Sung's wife, Kim Song-ae; the Korean National Peace Committee headed by Chong Chun-ki; the Korean Students Committee headed by Mun Kyong-tok; the General Federation of Trade Unions headed by Han Ki-chang; and many others. In the early 1990s, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland was actively involved in the two Koreas' reconciliation talks.
Among auxiliary organizations, one frequently covered in the media is the SWYL. Directly under the party Central Committee, it is the only mass organization expressly mentioned in the charter of the KWP. The league is the party's most important ideological and organizational training ground, with branches and cells wherever there are regular party organizations. Youth league cells exist in the army, factories, cooperative farms, schools, cultural institutions, and government agencies. The organization is hailed as a "militant reserve" of the party; its members are described as heirs to the revolution, reliable reserves, and active assistants of the party. Youths between the ages of fifteen and twenty-six are eligible to join the league regardless of other organizational affiliations, provided they meet requirements similar to those for party membership. The junior version of the youth league is the Young Pioneer Corps, open to children between the ages of nine and fifteen. The Students' and Children's Palace in P'yongyang is maintained by the SWYL for the extracurricular activities of Young Pioneer Corps members; these activities include study sessions in chuch'e ideology as well as other subjects taught in the primary and secondary schools.
The principal vehicle for P'yongyang's united front strategy in dealing with South Korea and foreign counterparts is the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland (DFRF), popularly known as the Fatherland Front. The Fatherland Front actually is an umbrella for various other organizations and thus ostensibly is a nonpolitical, nongovernmental organization.
Choch'ongryn (General Association of Korean Residents in Japan), is one of the best known of the foreign auxiliary organizations. Its mission is to enlist the allegiance of the more than 600,000 Korean residents in Japan. At least a third of these residents, who also are assiduously courted by Seoul, are considered supporters of P'yongyang. The remaining two-thirds of the members are divided into South Korean loyalists and neutralists. Those who are friendly toward North Korea are regarded by P'yongyang as its citizens and are educated at Korean schools in Japan that are financially subsidized by North Korea. These Koreans are expected to work for the North Korean cause either in Japan or as returnees to North Korea.
The activities of these mass organizations are occasionally reported in the news. However, it is difficult to ascertain what these organizations actually do. Organizations such as the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party publicize only the officially published names of their leaders and do not report anything about their membership or activities.
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