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Category: North Korea (page 2 of 97)

Jang Song Thaek, lese majesty and more North Korea crap

- Jesus, the the court really let Jang Song Thaek have it in the judgement. Get a load of this language:

판결문은 “개만도 못한 추악한 인간쓰레기 장성택은 당과 수령으로부터 받아안은 하늘같은 믿음과 뜨거운 육친적 사랑을 배신하고 천인공노할 반역 행위를 감행하였다”고 규정했다. 판결문 곳곳에서 장성택을 ‘놈’ 또는 ‘장성택놈’이라고 표현하거나 장성택을 “개만도 못한 추악한 인간쓰레기”, “혁명의 원수, 인민의 원수”,“극악한 조국 반역자”라고 강도높게 비난한 것도 ‘불경죄’에 대한 김정은 제1비서의 ‘심기’를 반영한 것 아니냐는 풀이가 가능하다.

Anyway, the Hankyoreh points Jang’s lese majesty as a reason for his downfall. Analyzing previous photos of Jang at public events with Kim Jong-un, the Hankyoreh notes that Jang tended to act quite rudely—not standing completely attention, clasping his hands behind his back, or having his hand in his pocket. Mind you, that last one can get you in trouble south of the DMZ, too—just ask Bill Gates. In fact, it was behavior like this that led South Korean Pyongyang watchers to believe Jang was super-powerful. In the end, it might have gotten him killed.

- Looking at images of Jang prior to his execution, YTN says it looks like Jang was tortured before his execution. Lovely. (HT to Hullaski Sivart)

- Want to watch Jang’s sentence being read on North Korean TV? Here you go, courtesy Yonhap. The transcript’s there, too, if you’d like to rant along at home, karaoke-style.

- The Pyongyang watchers at Yonhap think Director of the Korean People’s Army General Political Department Choe Yong-hae led Jang’s purge, with Senior Deputy Director of the KWP Organization Guidance Department Jo Yon-jun assisting. Choe—originally Jang’s man—regarded his former benefactor as a barrier to further power, and Jo didn’t like how Jang had weakened the power of the KWP Organization Guidance Department. Apparently both were secretly reporting on Jang’s corruption to Kim Jong-un.

photo credit: John Pavelka via photopin cc

Jang Song Thaek: He Dead

Holy crap, that was fast:

North Korea said on Friday that Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of its leader Kim Jong-un and considered his mentor, was executed for trying to mobilize the military to stage a coup.

Mr. Jang, 67, was executed on Thursday, immediately after he was convicted in a special military court on charges of violating the North’s criminal code, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

“He lost his mind due to his greed for power,” the news agency reported. “He persistently plotted to spread his evil design into the military, believing that he could overthrow the leadership if he could mobilize the military.”

It takes a hard, hard man to execute your uncle. Or a psychopath.

And to make you feel even better this morning, the NYT warns, “[T]he purge had raised worries in the United States and South Korea that Mr. Kim might now lash out at those he considers enemies, possibly staging another nuclear test or instigating a conflict with the South at sea.”

UPDATE: Read Andrei Lankov’s commentary on Jang’s purge here. Here’s something to get you started:

The very recent downfall of Jang Song Thaek – Kim Jong Un’s uncle – is an important event. It can be described as both unexpected but also anticipated. On the one hand, Jang’s displacement has been expected within certain circles for sometime now. On the other hand, the dramatic form this purge took is completely unexpected.

photo credit: bryanh via photopin cc

Chinese nuclear umbrella: first Ukraine, next North Korea?

The JoongAng Ilbo reports that China has just gotten into the nuclear umbrella business, pledging to provide security assurances to Ukraine if it is threatened with nuclear attack.

Now, the English-language Xinhua report on the summit between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych didn’t seem to mention it, but this English-language summary of a Global Times report does:

The statement consists of six points. In Point one, China promises to provide nuclear security assurances to Ukraine.

It states: “According to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 984 and the Chinese government statement on providing security assurances to Ukraine dated December 4, 1994, China undertakes unconditionally not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine as a non-nuclear country and to provide corresponding security assurances to Ukraine when Ukraine suffers or is threatened with invasion with nuclear weapon.

According to the JoongAng Ilbo report, experts believe the Chinese move may have North Korea in mind. The argument goes that if China is able to provide a credible nuclear umbrella to states like North Korea, it could reduce the need felt by Pyongyang to develop its own nuclear deterrent, and so contribute to regional security.

Honestly, I don’t really think North Korea’s nuclear program is as much about deterrence as it is about shaking down its neighbors and the United States for cash. I’m sure they’d appreciate the Chinese gesture, regardless. It would say something about Chinese diplomacy, though, if out of 193 sovereign states, the first states to get nuclear protection are Yanukovych’s Ukraine and North Korea. Could Syria be far behind?

UPDATE: Tweets Joshua H. Pollack:

photo credit: jamiejohndavies via photopin cc

MUST READ: One Free Korea on purging of Jang Song Thaek

The KCNA has made it official: Uncle Jang is a comrade no more.

The official report accuses Jang and his posse of “anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional acts.” Among them:

- “gnawing at the unity and cohesion of the party and disturbing the work for establishing the party unitary leadership system”

- “factional acts as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scene”

- “perfidious acts as shunning and obstructing in every way the work for holding President Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in high esteem for all ages, behaving against the elementary sense of moral obligation and conscience as a human being” (ooo, that sounds bad)

- “tried to increase his force and build his base for realizing it by implanting those who had been punished for their serious wrongs in the past period into ranks of officials of departments of the party central committee and units under them”

- “made no scruple of perpetrating such counter-revolutionary acts as disobeying the order issued by the supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army” (Yonhap notes this suggests Jang opposed the closing of Kaesong and December 2012 rocket launch, and his purging might lead to an even more aggressive North Korea in accordance with the desires of the military leadership).

- “throwing the state financial management system into confusion and committing such act of treachery as selling off precious resources of the country at cheap prices, the group made it impossible to carry out the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on developing the industries of Juche iron, Juche fertilizer and Juche vinalon” (well, now we know why Juche vinalon hasn’t been selling).

- “he was engrossed in irregularities and corruption, had improper relations with several women and was wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants” (Jesus, where did this creep think he was? Yeouido?)

- “he used drugs and squandered foreign currency at casinos while he was receiving medical treatment in a foreign country under the care of the party” (now we know why the late KJI was so sick all the time—he and his brother-in-law Jang spent their weekends in Macao drinking, gambling and snorting blow off Russian strippers’ tits. Or at least that’s what I’d like to imagine they were doing).

The post you really, REALLY want to read is Joshua Stanton’s commentary on the purge at One Free Korea. Read it and its links in their entirety, but if you’re going to take only one thing from it, make it this:

In case you’re wondering what all this means, it means that North Korea’s absolute ruler is a volatile man-child with a small nuclear arsenal and no adult supervision. It means that although South Korea’s National Intelligence isn’t gifted at domestic politics, it is at least a competent intelligence agency. It could also mean that Kim Jong Un has just suppressed a coup by Jang and his followers.

On a related note, Yonhap reports that while Jang is unlikely to be killed—he is Kim Jong-un’s uncle, after all—it is very possible he’ll spend at least a couple of years in a prison camp given the severity of his alleged crimes and the fact that said crimes have now been reported in the North Korean press.

UPDATE: Just in case the warning wasn’t clear enough, North Korean TV ran photos of Jang being arrested. Running photos of high officials getting arrested happens next to never in North Korea—more specifically, it hasn’t happened since the early 1970s:

SSI_20131209154604_V_59_20131209171203

photo credit: leef_smith via photopin cc

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.

Wacky stuff involving China, Taiwan, Mongolia

Limeys, the Global Times would like you to know your nation ain’t shit—basically, it’s a place to sell cheap crap/illegally immigrate to study and travel in, but not much more:

The Cameron administration should acknowledge that the UK is not a big power in the eyes of the Chinese. It is just an old European country apt for travel and study. This has gradually become the habitual thought of the Chinese people.

The Global Times: keeping it classy, since 2009.

I was half surprised they didn’t include a “bad teeth” joke somewhere in there. But then again, this is China we’re talking about.

To add irony to insult, the editorial ends, “Finally, let us show courtesy to Cameron and wish him a pleasant trip.”

Moving on, the president of Taiwan—which I generally like, except when it’s baseball season—is reportedly so keen to promote cross-strait ties that he wants schools to make clearer that the capital of Taiwan—well, the Republic of China, anyway—is Nanjing, not Taipei (HT to Michael Turton). Which, I didn’t realize, is officially the case. What got me about this story, though, wasn’t that, but rather this:

Under Ma’s leadership, government officials’ interpretation of the nation’s status has been “absurd,” he added, citing the example of Mongolian and Tibetan Commission Minister Tsai Yu-ling (蔡玉玲), who recently said that Mongolia remains ROC territory.

I found this interesting for two reasons. One was that Taiwan actually has a Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, with a history that goes back to 1636, no less. Note the yak on the commission homepage, and the adorable avatar on the Facebook page.

The other thing that got me was, obviously, that the ROC still officially operates on the premise that Mongolia is part of China. Not that I hadn’t heard it before, mind you. That the ROC still officially claims to rule Mongolia and Mongolia officially recognizes the PRC rather than the ROC has naturally presented some problems in the bilateral relationship, but the two seem to be getting past it:

Ninety-one years after Mongolia’s first declaration of independence, Taiwan did not recognise Mongolia as an independent country; official maps of the Republic of China showed Mongolia as Chinese territory. Relations began to improve in 2002, when the Executive Yuan under a Democratic Progressive Party administration announced that Mongolian nationals would be entitled to visas rather than entry permits when travelling to Taiwan, the same as individuals from foreign countries; however, the Kuomintang-controlled Legislative Yuan criticised the implementation of the decision, as they had not been consulted.[7] Later, representatives of the two governments agreed to open offices in each other’s capitals; Taipei’s office in Ulan Bator was opened in September of that year. Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior then decided to discontinue including Mongolia on its official maps of Chinese territory, and on 3 October 2002, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that Taiwan recognizes Mongolia as an independent country.[8] In 2002, the Taiwanese government excluded Mongolia from the definition of the “mainland area” for administrative purposes. In 2006, old laws regulating the formation of banners and monasteries in Outer Mongolia were repealed. However, the official borders of the Republic of China have not been changed to exclude Outer Mongolia[9] via a vote of the National Assembly (as required by the Constitution prior to 2005) or via a referendum (as required by the Constitution after amendments made in 2005). The official status of recognition is currently ambiguous, though in practice Mongolia is treated as an ordinary foreign power.

Interestingly, the ROC also claims Tuva, a Russian-ruled area best known for its throat singing, weird connection to Richard Feynman and, if you’re Mongolian, livestock rustling. What was that, you say? Could I post a video of Tuvan throat singers doing a cover of Joy Division? Why, I’d be delighted:

For a map of the world according to the Republic of China, see here. And for a recent editorial in the Taipei Times about Taiwan, Mongolia and their shared history, see here.

Speaking of things Mongolian, if you haven’t read Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj’s speech to students at Pyongyang’s Kim Il-sung University at the end of October, here’s the full text at his official website. It must have raised some eyebrows, and I would have hated to be the translator. In fact, I’d be keen to see a Korean transcript of that lecture, if there is one.

Make Change Or Be Changed – A Shift in The DPRK Hierarchy

oldhead01 Jang Song Taek – the uncle who became the second most powerful man in North Korea and lead the transition from KJI to his son, has been stripped of his position and is now out.  This follows the executions of his two deputies at the administrative department of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea on charges of “corruption and anti-party activities” last month.  Jang was originally one of three top leaders in the DPRK to oversee the transition of power to Kim Jong Un.

The toppling of Jang is expected to lead to more changes in the DPRK hierarchy, if not more mysterious auto accidents or executions.  More on Jang’s history is here.

North Korean Christians call Park Geun-hye gov’t ‘Satan’s gang,’ calls for ‘holy war’

The Korean Christian Federation—North Korea’s official Protestant association—slammed the Park Geun-hye administration yesterday and called on their South Korean coreligionists to rise up in a “holy war” against the government.

Or so said the KCNA. Re-reported by Yonhap.

A spokesman for the federation said (and I’m translating here), “Christians of conscience must boldly rise up in a holy war of righteousness to drive out Satan’s gang, which is turning all of South Korea into a place where fascists run riot and driving the disaster of nuclear war towards Korea while blocking Korean reconciliation and unity.” Or something like that.

In particular, the federation criticized what it called Seoul’s repression of certain dissident religious groups, and in particular the leftist Catholic priest who’s facing charges for, among other things, justifying North Korea’s 2010 shelling of Yeonpyeongdo (a case that probably deserves its own post).

Being a cup-half-full sort of guy, I’ll overlook the irony of North Korea bitching about the persecution of religious groups and instead focus on how this represents a moving example of Protestants and Catholics overcoming their differences to join hands for a common goal.

And a completely unrelated note, Christopher Walken is awesome.

And now about the old American guy in North Korea…

Reuters ran an excellent piece on Merrill Edward Newman, the Korean War veteran who got himself made an honored guest of the North Korean state during a tourist visit. Newman’s no ordinary veteran—he’s a commando who trained anti-communist guerrillas in North Korea during the war:

As autumn descended on a Korean countryside devastated by three years of intense war, a group of anti-communist guerrillas presented U.S. serviceman Merrill Edward Newman with a gold ring. It was September, 1953.

For Newman, the ring became a proud symbol of the role he played as an adviser to a group of battle-hardened partisans who fought deep behind enemy lines in a war that pitted the China- and Soviet-backed North against the U.S.-backed South.

Newman has reportedly issued an apology for crimes against the North Korean state, which some folk take as a good sign… if you think getting bent over by Pyongyang is a good thing.

Honestly, I don’t get the whole North Korea tourism thing. OK, allow me to rephrase that—I get the appeal the world’s most isolated state might have for adventure travelers and those with an interest in Korean affairs. I just don’t think it’s worth it, both in terms of the moral costs of helping bankroll one of the worst regimes in the history of man and the potential dangers of being seized. It should be noted that for North Korea, seizing an American tourist has absolutely no downside—we’re not going to bomb them, and more importantly, they know we’re not going to bomb them. At a minimum, they’ll score domestic PR points and maybe earn a bit of ransom money. If things go really well, they’ll get a visit and an apology from a high-ranking US official, maybe even a former president. For Pyongyang, it’s all upside, baby.

If paying to keep KWP apparatchiks in cognac and KPA generals in plutonium and setting up the White House and State Department for potential embarrassment just to say you’ve been is what you want, go right ahead. I, however, am with Kevin Kim:

I’ve talked with friends and colleagues about those North Korea group tours. You’ll never find me on one of them. I can’t see myself ever—ever—bowing and laying flowers at the feet of the huge statue of Kim Il Sung, or keeping my mouth shut about the depredations of the Kim dynasty. I also have no desire to feed the North Korean economy with my money. Mr. Newman’s reasons for going on that tour are unfathomable to me; even if I heard him articulate those reasons, I’d never understand why he so willingly stuck his head once again inside the lion’s mouth. It’s unfortunate that an 85-year-old vet with more than one medical condition is now effectively a POW inside North Korea’s borders, but I can’t help feeling that Mr. Newman made his own bed, and is now sleeping in it.

Just more evidence that age doesn’t always confer wisdom.

As Joshua Stanton puts it:

The first lesson of this sad episode is, “Stay the fuck out of North Korea.”

The second lesson is be sure to bring the right guidebook, but to understand why, read Joshua’s post along with this one by Marcus Noland, although I take it there’s more coming from Dr. Noland if the end of this post is anything to go by.

The DPRK Wages War on Old Men – Heart Pills and All

Merrill Newman, a retired American businessman that actually fought during the Korean War, was taken off his plane, when leaving North Korea, after having visited on a tour.  North Korean sources claim that Mr. Newman had broken the law and was being detained. (cite) I can only hope that there is some further bizarro twist where Mr. Newman is taken to KJU’s island and is forced to watch basketball and drink good tequila.  Naturally, Mr. Newman will have to drink just a little since he is still taking heart medication, being 85 years-old and all.

I could understand putting irritating missionaries into jail but arresting and 85-year-old American man who was visiting North Korea with a tour group!? I am only glad he was not walking down a scenic beach, like Park Wang-ja, since no one from the DPRK has been held accountable for her murder – yet.

North Korean pirates?

A North Korean source told the Chosun Ilbo that North Korea authorities recently arrested a gang of pirates that had been attacking and looting North Korean cargo ships off the East Sea coast for over four years.

Operating from a base on the coast of Hongwon in Hamgyeongnam-do, the pirates had attacked dozens of North Korean ships, but also Chinese and Russian merchant ships and fishing boats.

The source said the four-man outfit would board ships wearing masks and carrying axes in both hands. After subduing the crew, they’d steal their fish or goods. Crew members that resisted got thrown in the water.

The captain of one of the victimized ships said his crew of 20 fought back, but the four guys were just too strong.

Turns out the pirates were North Korean military agents who specialize in earning foreign currency for North Korea. Apparently the raids were an effort to boost their own numbers in the reports. The head of the group was formerly an instructor at a KPA martial arts center. In fact, because of this connection, he wasn’t punished, but the party secretary attached to the camp the pirates were from and the head of said camp were punished instead.

Marmot’s Note: Believe it. Or not. Hard to tell with these sort of stories. I guess I have to admit I enjoy the irony of Chinese fishing boats possibly being subjected to piracy.

North Korean pilots fighting in Syria: report

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (via the Chosun Ilbo) claimed yesterday that about 15 North Korean military pilots are participating in the Syrian civil war on the side of the government.

In particular, it said North Korean pilots, flying Syrian government attack choppers, were involved in an attack on rebel forces near Aleppo.

A rebel-friendly media reported that the Assad government had asked for North Korea to send air force personnel when desertions from the regime’s own air force grew serious.

In June, SOHR quoted local sources who say they’ve seen about 10 Arabic-speaking North Korean officers in a Syrian government artillery unit. The Chosun notes that North Korea’s (alleged) involvement in the Syrian civil war is taking place against an anti-Western tripartite alliance linking North Korea, Iran and Syria.

Marmot’s Note: North Korea has long been suspected of involvement in the Syrian civil war. They probably are, although as far as the specifics are concerned, who the hell knows what to believe—see Joshua’s comments at the bottom of this post. Anyway, the Assad and Kim dynasties go back some—North Korea was allegedly helping Syria’s fledgling nuclear power industry before said industry was rationalized by the IDF.

Interestingly, North Korean pilots also participated in 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel, this time flying with the Egyptian air force.

Nice murals: North Korea’s ‘soft power’

Over at Foreign Policy, Isaac Stone Fish points to a massive mural painted by North Korean artists in Damascus as a symbol of the long-standing alliance between North Korea and Syria.

Interesting note about North Korean “soft power”:

North Korea, which over the centuries has been overrun by larger nations like Japan and the United States, views friendly nations able to overwhelm it — countries like China, Russia, and even Pakistan — with added suspicion. Syria is more of an equal: Both countries have roughly 20 to 25 million people, and pre-civil war Syria ran a police state nearly as effective as North Korea’s. Ominously, the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun reported that Turkey recently intercepted gas masks en route to Syria from North Korea, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The bilateral ties extend beyond geopolitics into the realm of culture: what could be called, only semi-facetiously, North Korean soft power. North Korea has exported doctors, construction workers, and artists to Syria and at least half a dozen other countries. It has a surprisingly decent graphic design industry, and fosters a talented group of artists who have created works of social realism for those countries — often massive paintings showing rosy-cheeked babies, steel mills, and citizens enlivened by their leaders’ smile.

As the article suggests, Syria isn’t the only country with some nice North Korean murals. In fact, Egypt has almost the same exact memorial for the 1973 war.

This painting of Saladin entering Jerusalem (photo by freddyd) is from the Damascus monument:

Korean painting of Salah ad-Din

Cute comment from Martin Kramer: “The Crusaders are abject in their submission, in this unusual combination of North Korean socialist realism and good old Orientalism.”

Saddam Hussein apparently had a North Korean mural, too, but it was destroyed after the American invasion in 2003.

My personal favorite piece of overseas North Korean art is the giant African Renaissance Monument in Dakar. OK, the actual designer was Romanian, but really, same difference.

It should be noted that the North Koreans aren’t the only Koreans who enjoy that sort of art. South Korea’s military dictators had a preference for monumental works of socialist realism, seen even in anti-communist memorials like the Incheon Landing Memorial.

What about North Korea’s chemical weapons?

North Korea has been dragged into the Syria debate:

A failure to punish Syria over its alleged use of Sarin gas against civilians could embolden other rogue states such as North Korea, which is already stockpiling chemical weapons, U.S. officials said.

North Korea “maintains a massive stockpile of chemical weapons that threatens our treaty ally the Republic of Korea and the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed there,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told a Senate hearing on Syria in Washington yesterday, referring to South Korea. U.S. allies “must be assured that the United States will fulfill its security commitments.”

His comments came hours after the publication of a South Korean Defense Ministry report concluding that North Korea had the capability to launch a missile tipped with a nuclear warhead, technology that the U.S. has contended was years away. North Korea threatened first strikes against South Korea and the U.S. in March after a February nuclear test prompted a tightening of United Nations sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime.

Chuck’s comments elicited an editorial from the Chosun Ilbo, which called on the government to consider an international agreement—apart from the North Korea nuclear issue—to deal with the North Korean chemical weapon issue. It also called for a re-verification of Seoul’s defensive poster regarding a chemical weapon attack.

This whole thing has got me wondering, though. If we—and by we, I mean the Americans and possibly the French—are prepared to help a bunch of Christian-killing Al-Qaeda nutjobs to protect “international norms” in Syria, what would we be prepared to do if, in the event of a general uprising, Pyongyang begins gassing its own people? Would we launch air strikes on North Korea?

Kim Jong-un executes his ex-girlfriend for porn and bibles

According to Chosun Ilbo (August 29, 2013), Kim Jong-un’s ex-girlfriend, Hyon Song-wol as well as eleven other famous performers were found guilty of “violating North Korean laws against pornography” and were executed by machine guns:

“The victims of the atrocity were members of the Unhasu Orchestra as well as singers, musicians and dancers with the Wangjaesan Light Music Band.

They were accused of videotaping themselves having sex and selling the videos. The tapes have apparently gone on sale in China as well.

A source said some allegedly had Bibles in their possession, and all were treated as political dissidents.”

In addition, their fellow performers (who weren’t part of the crimes) and their families were sent off to labor camps – guilt by association.

Kim Jong-un is said to have dated Hyon some ten years ago but the couple was forced to break off their relationship because of Kim Jong-il’s disapproval.  She ended up marrying a soldier and having a child.  But the two of them apparently continued to maintain their relationship and provided quite a bit of fodder for newspapers (picture of KJU and her – JoongAng Daily, July 9, 2012).

The Daily Telegraph (August 29, 2013) is quick to note that being executed by a machine gun isn’t the worst way to go:

“She was luckier than Kim Chol, vice minister of the army, who was executed with a mortar round in October 2012.

Kim Chol was reportedly executed for drinking and carousing during the official mourning period after Kim Jong-il’s death.

On the explicit orders of Kim Jong-un to leave “no trace of him behind, down to his hair,” according to South Korean media, Kim Chol was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and “obliterated.”

The Daily Telegraph also cited a Japanese expert on North Korea who claims the executions were done for political reasons:

“If these people had only made pornographic videos, then it is simply not believable that their punishment was execution,” Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs, told The Daily Telegraph.

“They could have been made to disappear into the prison system there instead.

“There is a political reason behind this,” he said, suggesting that the groups may have been leaning towards a rival faction in Pyongyang’s shadowy political world.

“Or, as Kim’s wife once belonged to the same group, it is possible that these executions are more about Kim’s wife,” Professor Shigemura added.

Just for the record – Prof. Shigemura (described “as the leading authority on the Korean Peninsula”) is the one that claimed (Japan Today – August 23, 2008) Kim Jong-il died in 2003 and that for nearly 8 years a KJI look-alike was used to fool the world.  If you have time – read the article.

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