So North Korea has executed that ‘despicable human scum’ Chang Song-thaek. Denounced in gloriously over the top language he was dropped, cropped and chopped in short order. Four days from being hauled out of a public meeting to being allegedly machine-gunned to death. His crime? Trying to overthrow the state.Apparently.
Expert North Korea watchers
Seem to think that his crime was wanting to introduce comprehensive economic reforms, similar to those implemented in neighbouring China. The purge is interpreted by them as leader Kim Jong-un attempting to stamp his authority on ‘the Old Guard’ and some think that other purges may follow.
What facts we do know are limited. Chang was Kim’s uncle by marriage. That’s about it really. Intelligent speculation has been that Chang mentored Kim ‘young’un’ after the death of the latter’s father and that either they had a falling out over economic policy or Kim thought Chang had outlived his usefulness as he ‘grew into’ the role of supreme leader.
Just a thought
A)On his accession to power Kim snubbed long-term and in fact only ally China. Possibly on Chang’s advice?
B)Kim had a verbal punch-up with South Korea. Possibly on Chang’s advice?
C)Kim engaged in a head to head confrontation with America. Possibly on Chang’s advice?
And the results of all this good advice?
A)China let Kim know exactly who his only trading partner was and where he got his fuel and heating oil from. Kim had to admit they had a point.
B)Economic co-operation with South Korea came to a (brief) grinding halt. The only source of foreign currency aka ‘real money’ dried up and several thousand North Koreans temporarily lost their jobs. South Korea let it be known that the North needed them more than they needed the North. Kim had to admit they had a point.
C)China, North Korea’s only ally and trading partner, briefly sided with America and told Kim in no uncertain terms to behave. America added the ‘or else’, pointing out the slight disparity in nuclear weapons between the two countries (probably two versus God knows how many thousand) and displayed all the signs of actually being willing to demonstrate what that meant in practical terms. Kim had to admit they had a point.
Maybe there was a falling out over economic policy. Mind you who wanted reform and who didn’t is an interesting question.
Maybe Young-un has grown into the job.There might have been a plot if he’d been exercising a new-found confidence and independence.
Or just maybe Kim has been quietly evaluating all the good advice he’d been getting. As I said,
just a thought.