Monday, October 29, 2012

The Purge Of North Korean Officers

State Executions

If you still hold any doubts as to the ruthlessness of North Korean politics, you have to look no further than the recent purges of high-ranking army officers and party officials to put these to rest, says a report in The Telegraph:
Kim Chol, vice minister of the army, was taken into custody earlier this year on the orders of Kim Jong-un, who assumed the leadership after the death of his father in December. On the 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 execution of Kim Chol is just one example of a purge of members of the North Korean military or party who threatened the fledgling regime of Kim Jong-un. So far this year, 14 senior officials have fallen victim to the purges, according to intelligence data provided to Yoon Sang-hyun, a member of the South Korean Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee.
Those that have fallen from favour include Ri Yong-ho, the head of the army and Ri Kwang-gon, the governor of the North Korean central bank. Analysts suggest that Mr Kim, who took over as head of state after the death of his father late last year, is acting to consolidate his own power base and deter any criticism of his youthfulness and inexperience. Mr Kim is believed to be either 28 or 29.

"When Kim Jong-un became North Korean leader following the mourning period for his father in late December, high-ranking military officers started disappearing," a source told the Chosun Ilbo newspaper. "From information compiled over the last month, we have concluded that dozens of military officers were purged."
Such state executions, typically on trumped-up charges of disloyalty to the party, or more likely the leader,  are commonplace in totalitarian regimes; such was the case during Stalin's long reign in the Soviet Union, where purges of top officials were brutally regular between the 1930s and 1950s—right up to his death on March 5, 1953.

In such regimes as North Korea, where the cult of personality is the norm, as the thinking goes, it's imperative that the new leader show his strength by getting rid of the old guard, who might in the end "threaten" the seat of power. That North Korea's new leader is young and inexperienced makes his actions all the more unpredictable. But then again all totalitarians use their unpredictable behaviour to cast a giant shadow of fear over the state they rule.

You can read the rest of the article at [The Telegraph]