September 22, 2011 11:44
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son Jong-un has unleashed a reign of terror and kickstarted his own personality cult to make up for his lack of experience and competence over the past year. The tubby 20-something was anointed as his father's successor at a party congress last year.
"Kim Jong-un is implementing a reign of terror using military and public security agencies," a source said on Wednesday. "The elite is becoming agitated as he has gone all out to purge senior officials who pose a hurdle to his succession."
Senior officials such as minister of public security Ju Sang-song, vice premier Ri Tae-nam, and deputy director of the State Security Department Ryu Kyong were fired or executed on corruption charges.
Kim junior also ordered a merciless crackdown on "anti-socialist" trends, including South Korean pop music and TV series, and got deeply involved in organizational and personnel matters at the State Security Department and the Ministry of Public Security, the source added.
As a result, public executions tripled to about 60 last year compared to 2009, and the regime has been carrying out a massive hunt for potential defectors. A special mobile force armed with riot gear has been established to quell any popular uprisings.
At last year's party congress, Kim senior appointed his son a vice chairman of the party Central Military Commission, the governing body of the North Korean Army, to help him get a grip on the military. Kim senior also placed the entire top military brass under the commission's jurisdiction.
"Under his father's auspices, Kim Jong-un is exercising de-facto command of the military through Ri Yong-ho, the chief of the North Korean Army's general staff, and Kim Jong-gak, the senior deputy director of the North Korean Army's General Political Bureau," the source said. "He has established a support base in the military by replacing old-guard frontline unit commanders with younger commanders in their 30s and 40s who are loyal to him."
Generals over 60 who were dismissed in this process resisted en masse, according to an intelligence report.
The regime is bent on building a personality cult around Kim junior. An indoctrination handbook has been distributed since the first half of last year with preposterous stories, one of which claims that senior military officers were stunned to see Kim junior fire a handgun when he was only three years old and draw an operational map when he was a schoolboy.
A signboard was set up at each major agency and factory saying "Daejangbok," which means "people enjoy the happiness (bok) of having general (daejang) Kim Jong-un." Agencies Kim Junior visited mounted a signboard saying, "Kim Jong-un gave on-the-spot guidance here."
An oil portrait of Kim junior was presented at the Shanghai International Arts Festival held early this month, and school textbooks exalting him are expected to be published soon.
The source said his half brother Jong-nam, who was edged out in a power struggle, will seek political asylum abroad to stay alive.
But Kim Jong-un is having trouble winning people's hearts and minds. He masterminded attacks on the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island last year to divert attention, the source said.
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