Kim them all in N. Korea

The young and portly leader who succeeded his father is stamping his authority all over.

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Published: Sat 16 May 2015, 10:31 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 7:49 PM

Purges are not new for the reclusive dictatorial regime in North Korea. But the latest one beats them all. If reports emanating from South Korea are true, the defence minister Hyon Yong-chol was executed with anti-aircraft gun for snatching a few winks while his supreme leader Kim Jong-un was holding forth at an event. The previous one was no less bizarre. The number two in the secretive and repressive regime, and Kim’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was reportedly fed to dogs in late 2013 for apparently questioning the young leader’s authority.

Purges are what keep authoritarian regimes going. There should be spectacular punishments at regular intervals to strike fear among subjects and exact fealty from them. Kim recently ordered the execution of 15 top officials for their alleged disloyalty. According to South Korean intelligence sources, 70 officials of various ranks have been put to death since Kim took over.

The young and portly leader who succeeded his father is stamping his authority all over. He wants to show the world he is firmly in charge. Some argue he is resorting to these periodic gory executions only to boost his sagging confidence and firm up his uneasy grip on the military and bureaucracy. Whatever may be the truth, the reclusive communist regime never fails to shock the world.

North Korea is the most secretive and reclusive of all regimes and defies all international norms. The Myanmar junta, which had long maintained similar insular characteristics, gave way to change and is now opening up to the world and is being accepted by the world community. Similar change looks unlikely in Pyongyang.

What is happening in this rogue state is anybody’s guess. Nobody has a clue as to what transpires behind the walls erected by the military junta. Even the best intelligence sources in South Korea can only make some intelligent surmises.

Kim presents a challenge to international diplomacy. Several initiatives by the US and others to bring the country into the mainstream have only met with stiff resistance. The regime occasionally threatens nuclear attacks against the US and South Korea. China, which has been its steadfast benefactor, now appears to show some signs of weariness. This should augur well for the suffering and starving people of North Korea and the world community at large.

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