North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is back to purging officials, South Korea’s spy agency announced Thursday.
The National Intelligence Service revealed that the young despot is increasingly surveilling senior officials and is once again purging and executing undesirable individuals to spread fear through the ranks, the Chosun Ilbo reports.
Kim reportedly sent several senior editors of the Rodong Sinmun, the primary newspaper of the ruling Worker’s Party, to re-education camps for improperly celebrating a recent missile launch. North Korea’s prison and re-education camps are horrible places where, according to a recent study, “forced labor with deliberate starvation, inadequate medical care and poor hygiene conditions cause the deaths of thousands of inmates annually.”
The young dictator also had a senior officer in an anti-aircraft unit executed in Pyongyang for corruption. It is unclear if he was killed with an anti-aircraft gun, which is how a number of other North Korean officials have died.
“As many as 340 officials have been executed by firing squad or purged over the five years since Kim took power,” a report from the Institute for National Security Strategy revealed last year. Many were killed in the early days of his reign.
Few in North Korea knew Kim’s name until only a couple of years before he took control of the state from his father. He faced a number of political challenges during the early days of his rule, which led him to consolidate power through fear and force. A few year ago, Kim stressed that North Korea’s first war will not be with America, but rather against destructive internal forces, Thae Yong Ho, a former North Korean diplomat, revealed recently.
Mass purges followed Kim’s shocking statement. Hundreds of officials and their families were murdered or sent to political prison camps. These purges have been well documented by former senior officials who managed to escape the purges.
“The regime killed hundreds of people, including officials, their friends, their families, and even children with heavy machine guns,” Ri Jong Ho, a former North Korean official, told Voice of America in June.
Kim reportedly stopped purging officials in January, when he fired State Security Minister Kim Won-hong. Expert observers suspect that international sanctions and pressure have driven Kim to crackdown on government officials. “Kim has resumed the purges to tighten controls amid international sanctions and strengthen unity,” Nam Sung-wook, a professor at Korea University, told the Chosun Ilbo.
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