N.Korea's Elite Trembles Amid Massive Purge

  • By Kim Myong-song

    December 26, 2018 12:15

    North Korea is in the midst of another purge of "impure elements," corrupt officials and military officers who resist his reform efforts ahead of elections to the Politburo and the 75th anniversary of the Workers Party.

    "The targets of the hunt are people whose relatives have been imprisoned for serious crimes and family members of defectors," a source said.

    The suspect families are apparently being driven out of Pyongyang into internal exile. But the party's organizational department is also investigating corruption by officials in Pyongyang and the provinces in a widespread probe.

    The purge was expected when the state media started a campaign against the evils of corruption recently. The Rodong Sinmun daily reported on Dec. 19 that corruption is tantamount to "treason." 

    The source said, "Kim Jong-un ordered the Workers Party to strengthen the fight against crime at the end of the year." 

    Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat, wrote on his blog, "It looks like Kim Jong-un has become very angry at the discovery of many instances of corruption among members of the Supreme Guard Command, which is responsible for his security."

    "It appears that Kim Jong-un is increasingly disappointed by the North Korean military." Thae said his view was supported by the fact that no military officers accompanied Kim when he visited the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on Dec. 17 to mark the seventh anniversary of his father Kim Jong-il's death.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang in this video grab from [North] Korean Central TV on Dec. 17.

    Party officials in provincial regions are also on the party's radar. A source in the border city of Sinuiju said, "Since the probe started, party and law enforcement officers who took bribes from traders, smugglers, defectors and human traffickers have become very nervous."

    Japan's Tokyo Shimbun daily on Tuesday published a document compiled by North Korea's main youth league stressing the need to track down anti-socialist elements among young people. The eight-page document was passed out to 4,550 lower-ranking organizations in August.

    "There are rumors that a massive investigation of university students led to 500 names being put on a list of people set to be evicted or kicked out of school," a source in Pyongyang said.

    The youth league said in the document that the "U.S. imperialists and hostile forces are using all means and methods to spread poisonous ideologies, while launching unprecedented sanctions and pressure."

    By "means and methods" they seem to mean South Korean TV dramas and listening to songs from the South, dancing to western tunes and dressing in ways they deem unpatriotic. They also blame drug smuggling, prostitution, murder and robbery on capitalist influences. 

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