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.