The Ruling Elite
Persons with at least one major position in leading party,
government, and military organs are considered the ruling elite.
This group includes all political leaders who are, at a given
time, directly involved in the preparation of major policy
decisions and who participate in the inner circle of policy
making. The ruling elite include Political Bureau members and
secretaries of the KWP, Central People's Committee members,
members of the State Administration Council, and members of the
Central Military Commission and the National Defense Commission.
Because overlapping membership is common in public office, topranking office holders number less than 100. In any event, those
having the most influential voice in policy formulation are
members of the Political Bureau Presidium.
Top leaders share a number of common social characteristics.
They belong to the same generation; the average age of the
party's top fifty leaders was about sixty-eight years in 1990. By
the end of 1989, aging members of the anti-Japanese partisan
group accounted for 24 percent of the Political Bureau's full
members. There is no clear evidence of regional
underrepresentation. Nonetheless, many Hamgyng natives are
included in the inner circle--for example, O Chin-u, Pak Sngch 'l, Kim Yong-nam, and Kye Ung-t'ae. The latter is a member of
the Secretariat of the Central Committee and secretary in charge
Data as of June 1993