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About that Jang Song Thaek fellow…

Let’s get this out of the way right now—when I heard that Kim Jong-un might have purged his uncle, this was the first thing I thought of (NSFW, at least with the sound on):

Right, now where were we?

OK, Jang Song Thaek. I’m going to be honest—I have little interest in internal North Korean politics, and even less interest in trying to prognosticate. Because I’m told this is a big deal, however, I will post some links you may find interesting.

- Ye Olde Chosun is reporting that Jang may have been, politically speaking, a dead man walking for over a year now. It also notes, however, that this isn’t the first time Jang has been purged, so we can’t rule out him coming back at a later date.

- The Dong-A Ilbo reports that the purge—and the public execution of Jang’s two aides—are a reflection of Kim Jong-un’s “politics of terror.” King Kim III reportedly has folk executed, purged and demoted on a whim. The North Korean leader apparently has little in the way of impulse control, and you can see it in his personnel decisions, including military appointments. His father’s chiefs of the general staff and defense ministers lasted an average of five years, five months and six years, seven months, respectively. The son’s don’t last a year, and his chiefs of the general staff last just seven months. I get the feeling Kim is something of a Korean Commodus—like many insecure and impetuous young men, he’s a dick, but a dick born into the purple and with absolute power over his realm. And like Commodus, he might not be long for this world.

- The Hani has got a fair amount of analysis—in English—at its website. What I find more interesting is the editorial, which a) suggests that Jang’s removal might reflect a strengthening of Kim’s regime (wishful thinking on the Hani’s part, IMHO) and b) criticizes the NIS for the way in which it released this information. With the NIS nowadays, you never know.

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  • Horace Jeffery Hodges

    If he’s executing people on a whim, then nobody in the high elite can trust him. An intelligent dictator can be harsh, but if the rules are clear and applied consistently, people will generally obey them and thus know that they are secure. But if there are no rules and punishment is arbitrary, conditions are ripe for revolt.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Well, like most reports about North Korea, you never know what’s true and what’s not. I’m inclined to believe the Dong-A, though, and agree with you—if Kim keeps at it like this, he’ll find himself swinging from a lamppost before too long.

  • bumfromkorea

    Generally speaking, tyrants who start lobbing his ministers/generals’ heads off at a whim don’t have a great track record of keeping his power/… well, head intact. If it didn’t work out for 궁예, it’s not going to work out for him. A positive sign, for sure.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Hoping to see him dead soon. He is a nasty looking piece of crap, isn’t he?

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Reported by Reuters:

    Aide to North Korean leader’s ousted uncle seeks asylum in South – media

    North Korea is facing what could be its most serious defection in 15 years after a man who managed funds for the ousted uncle of leader Kim Jong Un fled the isolated country, South Korean media said on Friday.

    The aide has sought asylum in South Korea and is currently being protected by South Korean officials in a secret location in China….

    YTN said the man managed funds for Jang Song Thaek, whose marriage to Kim’s aunt and proximity to the young leader made him one of the most powerful men in North Korea.

    …YTN said the aide also had knowledge of funds belonging to Kim and his father, former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. If true, the defection would be the first instance in years of a significant insider from the Pyongyang regime switching sides.

  • Dokdoforever

    Kim Jong Un wasn’t groomed for power for decades like his father and he obviously lacks his grandfather’s background. He grew up in Switzerland – unlikely for the ‘old guard’ to see him as a legitimate successor. So, he tries to compensate by ruling through fear – demotions, killings, etc, which can’t help but feed further resentment. Maybe a Jang comeback is possible someday. Jong Un has few real friends at this point – outside of Dennis Rodman anyway!

  • Dokdoforever

    I wish this was always true. There have also been some extremely brutal ‘successful’ dictators in history unfortunately. I agree that he probably can’t maintain this indefinitely, but his continue rule probably also depends on other factors like general economic conditions.

  • Bob

    Not surprisingly, there is no shortage of supposed experts being quoted in the American media who claim that this means he’s here to stay. I would tend to agree with you and Jeffery, instead.

  • Bob

    And economy conditions in North Korea are pathetic.

  • Bob

    They should have kept that story secret since he probably knows where some of the money is hidden.

  • Bob

    It’s hard to take seriously a guy who probably never participated in PE class because he always had a note from his mom.

  • RElgin

    “An aide of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s uncle is seeking asylum in South Korea after fleeing his country ahead of a leadership purge, a report said Friday” – reportedly.

  • RElgin

    Simon Sez, drop dead.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Kim Jong Un’s purge of Jang Song Thaek is official. KJU pinched him off just like after an evening of overindulgence in fatty foods followed by a high fiber breakfast and a morning cigarette:

    North Korea confirms ouster of Kim Jong Un’s uncle from military post

    Jang and his allies were accused by Kim of double-dealing behind the scene, “dreaming different dreams” and selling off the country’s resources at cheap prices, thereby threatening North Korea’s economic development, according to the KCNA statement.

    “Jang desperately worked to form a faction within the party by creating illusion about him and winning those weak in faith and flatterers to his side,” the statement said.

    The public document also scolds Jang for improper relations with several women, drug use, gambling, eating at expensive restaurants and getting medical treatment in a foreign country.