Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Perestroika in reverse? High-profile purge hints at N. Korea reform rift

The public sacking of Kim Jong-un’s uncle and mentor is not a sign of regime instability; it demonstrates that the young leader is firmly in control and is able to consolidate his power by purging any possible rival figures without question. 

The man widely believed to be the second-in-command in North Korea’s political hierarchy was been publicly chastened, stripped of all posts, and even forcibly removed by police officials during a political assembly.

Jang Song-thaek, the husband of former leader Kim Jong-il’s sister, has been politically intertwined with North Korea’s ruling family for over four decades. He climbed his way through the party, fell from grace in 2004, bounced back in 2006, and received a top military post in 2011 following the ascent of Kim Jong-un. Jang was frequently seen in public as the young leader’s mentor and adviser; he is known to have been a key figure in maintaining regime stability following the death of Kim Jong-il and was widely believed to be steering the state’s economic affairs, particularly in joint projects with China.

Jang’s purging and overt public denouncement in state-media is largely without precedent, turning an elite power broker into a reactionary agitator overnight. Sources indicate that Jang is already being given the Trotsky treatment as his name and image have reportedly begun being edited out of state-produced documentaries and articles.

Read the full story on RT.com

Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.