fleche G



La Division 39 (Room 39 ou Bureau 39 en anglais) est une organisation gouvernementale secrète de la Corée du Nord visant à alimenter la caisse noire de Kim Jong-un, actuel dirigeant de la République populaire démocratique de Corée1.

On estime que cette organisation possède plus de 5 milliards de dollars de fonds générés par des activités légales (vente d'armes entre autres) mais également illégales telles que la contrefaçon monétaire (voir Superdollar) et le trafic de drogue2.

Bien que l'isolement dans lequel est plongé l'État nord-coréen rende l'accès à ces informations extrêmement difficile, certains affirment que la Division 39 est vitale pour Kim Jong-un, celle-ci lui permettant notamment d'acheter un support politique et de financer le programme d'armement nucléaire Nord-coréen.


La Division 39 fut fondée à la fin des années 1970 afin de financer et de contrôler les activités de la famille dynastique des Kim. L'origine de son nom est inconnue.

Au début de l'année 2010, l'agence de presse sud-coréenne Yonhap news agency rapporte que le dirigeant de la Division 39, Kim Dong Un, avait été renvoyé et remplacé par son adjoint Jon Il Chun3.

Cette section ne cite pas suffisamment ses sources (novembre 2017).

Très peu de choses sont connues à propos de cette organisation étant donné son caractère secret, mais il est largement supposé[Par qui ?] qu'elle possède entre 10 et 20 comptes bancaires dédiés à la contrefaçon et au blanchiment d'argent ainsi qu'à d'autres types d'activités illégales. On[Qui ?] suppose également que l'organisation est impliquée dans le trafic de drogues et la vente illégale d'armes. Par ailleurs, on sait que l'organisation possède 120 compagnies étrangères de commerce sous sa juridiction et qu'elle est sous le contrôle direct de Kim Jong-un. La Corée du Nord nie prendre part dans des activités illégales quelles qu'elles soient.

Un rapport de 2007 publié par Millennium Project de la Fédération Mondiale des Associations pour les Nations unies estime que la Corée du Nord tire entre 500 millions et 1 milliard de dollars de revenus annuels de ses activités criminelles1. En 2006, un rapport du Congressional Research Service estimait qu'au moins 45 millions en monnaies contrefaites d'origine Nord-coréenne avaient été identifiés en circulation.

Les États-Unis ont accusé la Division 39 de vendre de la technologie militaire pour obtenir des liquidités étrangères. La Corée du Nord dément ces accusations.

On pense que la Division 39 est implantée à l'intérieur d'un bâtiment du Parti des Travailleurs de Corée à Pyongyang.

↑ a et b (en) Kelly Olsen, « North Korea's secret: Room 39 » [archive], 11 juin 2009 (consulté le 28 juillet 2009)
↑ Michael Breen, Kim Jong-il, Dictateur nord-coréen,p. 199, Saint-Honoré Média, 2004
↑ (en) AP, « Report: NKorea fires director of Kim's finances » [archive], 4 février 2010 (consulté le 27 février 2010)






July 14, 2003, 2:21 a.m. ET



Inside North Korea, it goes by the Orwellian name of Division 39. It is a largely unpublicized trading network and slush fund. The money it generates is, by all accounts, the lifeblood of Kim Jong Il's dictatorship.
According to interviews with high-level defectors, South Korean businessmen and Asian intelligence officials, Division 39 has generated a cash hoard as large as $5 billion that is salted away in places as disparate as Macau, Switzerland and Pyongyang. It produces a steady flow of money that Mr. Kim uses to buy political support and loyalty. Intelligence officials have also tied it to Pyongyang's efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.
Concerns about North Korea's nuclear-weapons program have intensified over the past week after South Korea's intelligence agency said it believes Pyongyang has begun reprocessing some of the 8,000 spent fuel rods it extracted from its Yongbyon nuclear complex earlier this year. U.S. officials believe North Korea could use this fissile material to potentially create five to six new atomic weapons in coming years.
So critical is Division 39 that defectors and North Asian security officials say cutting off its cash flow is the key for those in the U.S. and elsewhere advocating regime change in Pyongyang. By shutting down Division 39's businesses, "you can shut down Kim Jong Il," says Kim Dok Hong, a high-ranking defector who has worked with Division 39 companies.
The U.S. supports such a shutdown. The Bush administration has said it is working with allies to block North Korea's trade in illicit drugs, counterfeit dollars and weapons. Japan in recent weeks has tightened safety and customs inspections of North Korean ships, which Tokyo has long suspected of smuggling missile parts and narcotics between the two countries. Seoul has said that it will tie most future economic cooperation between the two countries to Pyongyang's abandoning efforts to build nuclear weapons.

Description : korea]

According to defectors, Division 39 was set up during the mid-1970s to fund Kim Jong Il's political career. Headquartered on Pyongyang's main thoroughfare just down from the Russian Embassy, it has offices throughout North Korea that funnel donations to Mr. Kim. Defectors say citizens are required to make annual donations to Division 39 on important holidays honoring the so-called Dear Leader and his father. Businessmen and overseas diplomats are also called on to raise cash for Division 39. The name, defectors say, reflects the secret number the Communist Party assigned to its fund-raising offices.
Division 39 has two main arms. One is involved in illegal activities, senior-level defectors and North Asian intelligence officials say. The other engages mostly in legitimate business under the Daesong Group, its Daesong Bank and Vienna-based Golden Star Bank.
Song Il Hyok, a North Korean diplomat in Hong Kong, acknowledged the existence of Division 39 but said he was "not in the position to comment" about its specific operations. He flatly denied that North Korea is involved in any type of illicit activities, particularly allegations that it is trading in narcotics and counterfeit U.S. currency. "I can say that this is a cynical campaign ... and not true at all," Mr. Song says. "Historically, this was used to defame our country."
A Golden Star bank official in Vienna, who declined to give his name, denied any suggestions that his institution was involved in improprieties. "There is absolutely no proof and this is a pure slander," the official said in a telephone interview from Vienna.
Tokyo authorities in April blocked a Japanese company from selling to a Daesong unit three power-control devices that Japanese intelligence officials say could be used to enrich uranium for atomic weapons. Executives from Daesong affiliates have been arrested by police in Macau in recent years for allegedly trafficking in counterfeit U.S. dollar notes. Investigators in South Korea and Macau say some of these and other Division 39 officials also are involved in heroin and amphetamines trafficking that generates as much as $500 million annually for Pyongyang.
Daesong Group and its subsidiaries are North Korea's largest exporters of pine mushrooms and ginseng -- both prized in Japan and China -- and other agricultural goods. Daesong holds virtual monopolies on the country's gold, silver and magnesium mining, and on the seafood trade.


Description : map]


All this Division 39 business supports the patronage system that has allowed Kim Jong Il to extend his family's rule to more than 50 years. The slush fund's money is doled out to key military men and officials of the ruling Workers' Party officials to ensure their allegiance. It finances the Dear Leader's indulgence in gambling, imported alcohol and Scandinavian women, according to former senior party members.
The rest of the citizenry still copes with a lingering famine that began in the mid-1990s and claimed as many as two million lives. The United Nations World Food Program says the country needs aid donations to feed more than six million of its 23 million people this year. The per capita gross national income in North Korea was less than $1,000 last year, compared with more than $9,000 in the South.
Kim Jong Il formally took power in 1998, following the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, four years earlier. But many experts say the younger Kim began running key sections of the government more than two decades earlier, starting in 1974, after his father named him as his successor.
The son faced trouble consolidating his power in those early days. North Koreans never accorded him the same respect they did Kim Il Sung, who was revered as the father of the nation's anticolonial and communist movements. Recognizing the need to shore up his position, the younger Kim established Division 39 as a secret unit within the Workers' Party that would finance a major restructuring of the party. This included increasing the number of seats on the party's Central Committee to include men loyal to Kim Jong Il, and intensifying the propaganda programs aimed at glorifying his achievements as he prepared to take power formally, say defectors and North Korea analysts.
To build Division 39, defectors say Mr. Kim consolidated and brought under its control the country's key natural resources, particularly the minerals that have fueled North Korea's economy since before the 1950-53 Korean War. He chose his closest confidants to run its operations and sent young recruits to Europe to learn about the global financial system.
Choi Se Woong, the son of North Korea's finance minister in the early 1980s, says Mr. Kim personally sent him to Vienna in 1984. Fluent in German, Mr. Choi boned up on foreign-exchange trading and account-clearing procedures. He says he advised North Korean officials in establishing the Golden Star Bank in Vienna, North Korea's only financial institution in Europe. Mr. Choi then returned to Pyongyang to advise bankers at Daesong Bank and other institutions about Western finance.
"Kim Jong Il needed to take over the party. But to do this, he had to generate money," Mr. Choi says today from Seoul, where he has run a currency-trading firm since his 1995 defection. "He wanted to set up more banks" with access to outside markets.
Daesong and its subsidiaries brought in money from trading commodities and produce, primarily with communist-bloc countries and Japan. Tokyo officials say Pyongyang had been earning as much as $58 million annually from the pine-mushroom trade, though these revenues have dropped off sharply in recent years due to Japanese concerns about the quality of the product and North Korea's nuclear program.
Division 39 companies have also found an unlikely ally in their business ventures in South Korea's chaebol, the family-owned conglomerates. During the 1990s, such companies as the LG and Samsung groups bought more than $200 million of gold from North Korean companies and used the mineral in high-tech components. Intelligence officials say they believe that virtually all of this money went into Division 39 accounts, due to its monopoly over the minerals trade.
Lee Jong Keun, who heads LG International Corp.'s North Korean operations in Seoul, says that LG bought the gold from Pyongyang through middlemen based in either Macau or Beijing. (Macau reverted to China's rule in 1999.)
Mr. Lee says there was virtually no direct contact between LG and the North. He says that his company's payments were sometimes made into accounts that belonged to individuals, not companies, due to restrictions North Korea placed on its overseas companies' business operations. Mr. Lee says he's aware of Division 39's operations but he doubts that his company has been dealing with it directly.
A spokesman for Samsung Corp. confirmed the company purchased gold from North Korea, but said he couldn't provide specific details. The Samsung team that was in charge of buying the gold has been dissolved, he said.
Since his initial use of Division 39 to establish his political base, Kim Jong Il has continued to draw on the slush fund to strengthen his patronage system, senior North Korean defectors say. This includes access to the dictator's drinking parties and private audiences where gifts are showered on attendees, as well as accompanying him on trips abroad and enjoying the best wines and food.
A high-level defector whose father served on the Central Committee during the 1980s recalls his father's disappearing for days to attend lavish parties with high-stakes gambling and drinking contests. The defector says his father would come home with imported Japanese stereos and deluxe beds from Europe -- courtesy of the "Great General."
The defector Kim Dok Hong, who served for 17 years on the Central Committee, says Kim Jong Il would often host theme parties, where the food and dress paid tribute to a foreign country. He says he attended one party where the waiters all wore Italian clothing and were serving pasta and pizza. "The next night it might be French," Mr. Kim says.

Description : korea]

The number of defectors from the North has soared in recent years, to 1,140 last year from eight in 1992, according to the South Korean Ministry of Unification. Kim Dok Hong and Choi Se Woong are among the highest-level officials to defect.
The North Korean leader also rewarded those seen as having made exceptional contributions to his communist state, including athletes, artists and scientists. Kim Kil Sun, who served as a journalist for a North Korean military publication before defecting in 1997, says Mr. Kim delivered television sets to a slew of scientists at the Yongbyon nuclear complex after they made major advances in their quest for nuclear arms in the early 1990s. "Having a TV in North Korea is like having a private airplane" in the West, Kim Kil Sun says.
North Korea's economy, never strong, has weakened further since the early 1990s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and China's market reforms, Pyongyang has lost the benefit of the communist club's exclusive aid-and-trade supports. North Korea's legitimate economy has grown much less productive, with total exports falling to just $730 million last year from $1.7 billion in 1990, according to South Korea's central bank. As a result, Division 39's operations have increasingly turned to trade in illicit goods and weapons systems, intelligence officials say.
Drug shipments to North Asia, which includes the Korean peninsula, Japan and Taiwan, have also been rising in recent years, these officials say. In the past three months alone, police in Australia and South Korea have seized drugs allegedly either produced or marketed by North Korea estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. U.S. military officials estimate that North Korea's annual drug exports have risen to at least $500 million from about $100 million just a few years ago.

South Korean police and some lawmakers believe hundreds of millions of dollars were illegally shipped into Division 39's accounts from the South through Macau in recent years. A special independent investigative team held a formal inquiry into the Hyundai Group's admission that it sent $500 million to the North just before a historic 2000 summit between Kim Jong Il and South Korea's then-President Kim Dae Jung. A report released this past June 25 showed that about $187 million was sent to North Korean accounts at a Macau branch of a Chinese bank, while other money was sent to accounts in Austria and Singapore.
North Asian intelligence officials are focusing on Macau because they believe Pyongyang has used it as a logistical and financial base for decades. North Korea's bombing of a Korean Air jetliner in 1987 was partially plotted from Macau, according to a female North Korean agent who was eventually convicted for the bombing. The officials say Division 39, using a local unit of Daesong called Zokwang Trading Co., has employed Macau as a base to move counterfeit dollars and to try to procure components for its weapons systems.
In 1994, five Zokwang officials were arrested for trying to pass $250,000 in fake U.S. dollar notes, says a Macau police official involved in the bust. Their actions were part of a wider counterfeiting operation run by Division 39 that introduced nearly $50 million in counterfeit U.S. currency into the global financial system, the official says. The Zokwang officials exchanged $100,000 of the fake notes at a small commercial bank in Macau. Emboldened, they tried to exchange a further $150,000 at the Macau bank but were apprehended when U.S. banks in Hong Kong raised an alarm about the notes coming from the bank.
The North Korean officials were eventually released because they had diplomatic passports. Mr. Song, the North Korean diplomat in Hong Kong, says the Zokwang officials acquired the fake notes by mistake. "North Koreans have no choice but to carry large amounts of cash, as the U.S. freezes us out of the global financial system," Mr. Song says.
Austrian officials have also kept a close watch on the Golden Star Bank in Vienna, fearing Division 39 might be using it to fund illicit operations. An Austrian Interior Ministry report from 1997 noted that "this bank was named repeatedly in connection with money laundering and distributing counterfeit money and even involvement in the illegal trade of radioactive substances." An Austrian intelligence official said in May that he believed Golden Star Bank hardly engages in financial transactions anymore, but instead is a front for North Korean spies.
Austrian regulators say they've been closely monitoring Golden Star for years, but haven't moved because of its slackening business and no known legal violations. At the end of 2001, the bank had assets of only $19.2 million to $20.4 million, an Austrian regulator says. That was almost all loans to North Korean state companies, such as Daesong.
Division 39's declining business prospects -- and North Korea's vulnerability to economic pressure -- are also evident at the Macau headquarters of Zokwang Trading, which is widely viewed as Division 39's most potent overseas tool. The offices are situated on the fifth floor of a nondescript building. The doorbell plays "Frere Jacques."
The Zokwang executive at the office on a recent day was Park Ja Byong, the company's chief representative. He was one of the five Zokwang officials released by police, but he is banned from leaving the territory. Mr. Park said his company's ability to engage in business -- particularly procuring electronics components -- is drying up as the U.S. tightens the economic pressure on his country.
"For 50 years, the U.S. has blocked all markets for North Korea and blocked us politically," the 65-year-old man said from behind wire glasses. "Realistically, we realize this pressure is only going to increase."

—Marcus Walker in Frankfurt and Miho Inada in Tokyo contributed to this article.
Write to Jay Solomon at jay.solomon@awsj.com.