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Purges Expected in N. Korea`s Succession Process

Posted June. 05, 2009 08:06,   


North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has purged his political opponents several times while consolidating power. Examples include the purges of “side branches” in 1974 and “Simhwajo” in the late 1990s after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung.

Shortly after his designation as the heir in 1974, Kim Jong Il branded his stepmother Kim Song Ae and half brothers as “side branches” and forced them out of the political scene.

Moreover, he demoted his uncle Kim Yong Ju, who was then the North’s second-in-command as organizing secretary of the Workers’ Party and director for organization and guidance, to vice prime minister, and took the position of his uncle.

Even before his father passed away in 1994, Kim Jong Il wielded power to protect his interests.

With the reported designation of Kim Jong Il’s third son Jong Un as his successor, the North’s power structure could see similar events. Those who have supported Kim Jong Un’s older half-brother Jong Nam, who is 12 years older, might be the first to be purged.

Rumors say Kim Jong Nam, who is in China, has expressed regret over the succession decision of his father and other political leaders. Kim Jong Un’s own brother Jong Chol is also unlikely to see a rosy future. According to intelligence reports, Kim Jong Chol will be sent to a North Korean embassy in a European nation.

After his father died, Kim Jong Il began another purge of his political opponents, affecting countless victims. For example, So Kwan Hui, agricultural secretary of the Workers’ Party, was branded as a spy and publicly executed.

Mun Song Sol, a secretary of the party’s Central Committee, was beaten to death and So Yun Sok, a chief secretary of South Pyongan Province, was sent to a concentration camp for political prisoners.

A North Korean defector who was once a high-ranking officer testified in Seoul that 25,000 politicians were purged at that time.

Kim Jong Il later purged 6,000 police officers, saying he needed to reconsider purges. His brother-in-law and high-ranking party member Jang Song Taek took the initiative in purges back in the late 1990s. Jang has recently taken a series of major moves, while regaining the control of the North’s national security agency.