Days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had his uncle executed for what was considered a purge against a challenge to his power, comes the revelation that Jang Song-Thaek met his fate as he was purportedly involved in the country’s lucrative coal business. Devoid of any semblance of democracy, the opaque North Korean state is considered one of the most corrupt.
The reclusive society of the backward country is seen to be in a state of ferment as the deprived population comes to know more about the vast world through leaks and limited interaction with the outside world.
Thaek’s execution has reverberated across the world with speculation rife that Kim got the most powerful power centre after him exterminated by accusing him of corruption. South Korea’s spy chief told lawmakers yesterday that the veteran politician got his hands dirty in the coal export business. Intelligence reports from South Korea, which is always in a state of alert because of its mercurial northern neighbour, say that Kim didn’t have a threat from any quarter and firmly holds the reins of power.
What does the North’s latest predicament says about the controversial country and its ruler? Reclusive and solitary as it is, the country’s young leader Kim has been a disappointment after he took control of the country following his father Kim Jong il’s death. The senior Kim’s passing away had become an object of interest for the world not only because of perceived uncertainty in the Communist regime but also due to the way the entire population went into a ‘fit of mourning,’ which appeared largely orchestrated.
North Korea has been trying to assert itself in the wake of the West trying to raise the heat on the regime to make it come out of isolation. The obfuscation with which North Korea operates makes it hard for world powers to penetrate the aggression and hubris which Pyongyang has built around itself over the years. The expectation of the international community from the young Kim has been belied and he is being perceived as a leader who is not much different from his father. The North Korean leader tries his best to tell the world that all is fine with the country and Western sanctions can hardly harm its interests. Pyongyang strives to face the headwinds of sanctions by putting up a brave front. It often leans on China, much to the consternation of western powers. Getting his hands messy in the minerals business led to Jang being executed. Related departments of the state started complaining about Jang’s interference. Kim ordered remedial measures but Jang’s coterie did not let this happen. A furious Kim is known to have then ordered the execution.
The story doesn’t end with Jang’s purge. Officials close to him are being probed and more purges are likely to be ordered by Kim who wants to make sure that he is seen as a strong leader who will permit no dissent•