Jang Chol, the president of the North Korean State Academy of Sciences, was recently removed from his position and sent to the countryside for “revolutionary education” in the province of South Pyongan, Daily NK reported on Dec. 29.
As the head of the country’s largest academy of science, Jang had directed the science and technology research activities of the government, including the key role of the academy in the nuclear program of North Korea. Pyun Yon-rip, who left the post in 2009, had succeeded him.
Jang had worked closely with leader Kim Jong Un of North Korea to develop the science and technology sectors of the country. His dismissal generated at the academy, sources said, an environment of anxiety among scientists and other staff.
“For not properly carrying out the policies of the government, Jang was removed from his post,” one source told Daily NK.
“He was blamed for failing to carry out the research projects for science and technology this year in accordance with the wishes of Kim Jong Un,” the source added. “The science and technology research budget has increased over the years, but no major breakthroughs have been made by the academy. Jang was finally held accountable for this mistake.
Kim Jong Un visited the State Academy of Sciences last year, describing the institute as “the cradle of[ North Korea’s] self-reliance,” charging it with taking the lead in North Korea’s economic development and efforts to “overcome” international sanctions.
However, the State Academy of Sciences failed to produce noteworthy results compared to the National Defense Science Academy, which has consistently produced results in its research.
“In achieving its targets under Jang, the academy made no real progress,” a source said. “Researchers were not adequately encouraged or supported by the building.”
According to sources, no other academy officials were disciplined except Jang. Internally, the academy has held sessions of self-criticism and a “solidarity rally” to correct past errors.
“Due to Jang’s firing, morale at the State Academy of Sciences has fallen,” one source told Daily NK. “Jang’s absence will change the atmosphere at the academy for the better, but I doubt it will have a real impact on the quality of work at the academy.” Jang gave a speech at a ceremony in Kim Il Sung Square in April to mark Kim Jong Un’s two-year anniversary as Chairman of the State Affairs Commission.