July 15, 2015 09:43
Since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took power, about 20 to 30 percent of senior party officials and more than 40 percent of senior military officers have been replaced, the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers here Tuesday.
The sweeping personnel reshuffles presumably served to tighten controls based on more party-centered rule and rein in the unruly military, which had assumed monstrous powers due to former leader Kim Jong-il's "military-first" doctrine.
Saenuri Party lawmaker Lee Cheol-woo of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee briefed the media on the report.
Since early this year, about 70 North Korean officials, including former armed forces minister Hyon Yong-chol, have been executed, NIS officers said.
The NIS went so far as to brief lawmakers on the luxury brands favored by Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju.
Kim wears a Movado watch from Switzerland and Scabal suits made of British fabrics, and carries a Mont Blanc briefcase.
Ri also wears a Movado watch.
Kim was said to have ordered 12 massive projects, including a science and technology hall and a zoo, to be completed by Oct. 10, the 70th anniversary of the Workers Party.
An NIS officer said the zoo is a particular pet project and preparing to house 240 species of animals and 6,500 stiffed animals.
The regime is also reportedly preparing to set up a super-size floating platform on the Taedong River for the party anniversary where thousands of artists can perform, and is planning other massive events such as fountain laser shows and a military parade.
The NIS officer said the aim of spending huge amounts of money on the anniversary celebrations is to give an impression of stability and national achievement.
North Koreans are now mostly shopping in 380 large open-air markets and thousands of back alleys rather than receiving rations from the government.
In the purges, Hyon was executed for "anti-revolutionary" behavior. He and his associates in the military were executed by firing squad for complaining about the growing power of the party. Senior Army officers were forced to watch.
But Hyon has regularly been seen in footage on North Korean TV since.
Kim ordered officials to stop deleting footage of Hyon, probably because the erasure of his image could be seen as proof of his execution, New Politics Alliance for Democracy lawmaker Shin Kyoung-min speculated.
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