Agency handling business deals with China called key to Jang’s rise and fall

Jang Song-Thaek meets China’s Minister of Commerce Chen Deming in Beijing on Aug. 14, 2012.

Jang Song-Thaek meets China’s Minister of Commerce Chen Deming in Beijing on Aug. 14, 2012.

SEOUL — Pyongyang’s “Department 54” was integral to North Korea’s struggle to acquire foreign currency and was at the center of the recent bloody purges, officials and analysts here said. They added that another power struggle is likely shortly over who will control the agency which runs projects like coal exports to China. Department 54, also known as the “Bureau 54,” is a key North Korean agency for earning foreign currencies by exporting mineral resources and fisheries products and running restaurants overseas, according to the South Korean intelligence agency. Much of Department 54’s activities involved China.

 (FULL STORY)

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