Purges Likely in North Korea

Experts predict Kim will move to consolidate power
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2013 3:54 PM CST
North Korean subway commuters gather around a public newspaper stand in Pyongyang to read about the execution of Jang Song Thaek.   (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)
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(Newser) – The surprise execution of Kim Jong-un's powerful uncle, Jang Song Thaek, might signal a lot of coming bloodshed in North Korea, experts tell the New York Times. Jang's supposed treason confession is startling because North Korea rarely acknowledges internal conflict, analysts say. South Korean officials think it's a sign Kim will launch a "reign of terror" to firm up his grasp on power. "There will be big and small bloody purges," predicts one Seoul-based expert, and "desperate extremists may lash out. Pyongyang is no longer safe."

North Korea seemed to confirm that assessment today, with a public statement condemning the "undesirable and alien elements" that had infiltrated "important posts of the party and state." Jang, it said, had stretched "his tentacles even to People's Army." Other experts tell NPR that there was "a lot of genuine personal dislike" between Kim and Jang, even positing that he was killed in part for clapping "half-heartedly" at Kim's election to vice chairman of the military commission. (Read more Kim Jong Un stories.)

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