October 20, 2016 12:32
North Korea is experiencing growing unrest amid leader Kim Jong-un's reign of terror, the National Intelligence Service here said Wednesday.
NIS chief Lee Byung-ho told lawmakers during a National Assembly audit of the spy agency that Kim has resumed his purges and 64 people have been publicly executed so far this year.
Since Kim took power in late 2011, he has executed more than 100 high-level officials.
"The main reason behind most of Kim Jong-un's vicious purges is his perception that he had been snubbed," an intelligence source said. "Any apparent sign of wavering loyalty or nonchalance by officials agitated Kim's inferiority complex due to his young age."
Lee said the North's security and intelligence agencies, which are in charge of monitoring dissent, "are now just intent on making money. There were incidents in some parts of North Korea where residents stormed the regional offices of the Workers Party to protest after electricity and water supplies were halted."
The NIS chief said rising public discontent has increased the number of defections by around 20 percent this year.
The NIS estimates that North Korea suffered a US$200 million decline in hard currency earnings after a UN Security Council resolution in March. Pyongyang has seen commercial transactions shrink by half due to the losses. Prices of the city's signature cold noodles dropped by 50 percent, but there are still no takers.
Yet the regime spent nearly $200 million testing nuclear weapons and firing missiles to flaunt its defiance, and another $200 million on luxury vehicles, a helicopter and thorough-bred horses.
As sanctions against North Korea continue, the coffers of Room 39, which manages Kim's slush funds, are drying up, the NIS said citing accounts.
North Korea is desperately flogging fishing rights to China. Some 2,200 Chinese trawlers operate in North Korean waters, up two-fold compared to previous years, and the North made an $58 million from selling fishing rights, up 50 percent compared to previous years, the NIS said.
Recent floods in North Korea exacerbated discontent. "Floods in North Hamgyong Province were caused by dams suddenly opening their gates due to heavy rainfall," Lee said. "It's an unprecedented disaster, but North Korea got only around $17.5 million in aid from the international community due to its nuclear provocations."
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