(EDITORIAL from the JoongAng Daily on Dec. 10)
Jong-un consolidates his power
North Korea made it official. Jang Song-thaek, uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and vice chairman of the paramount National Defense Commission, was purged over a chain of charges both grave and frivolous. Pyongyang attributed Jang’s downfall to his “anti-party, anti-revolutionary sectarianism, which damaged the unity of the Workers’ Party and hinders a sole supreme leadership.” North Korea enumerated a long list of charges, including challenges to the dignity of Kim Jong-un and all types of corruption and depravity. Such harsh punishment of such a major political bigwig was unprecedented in the long history of political purges in the secluded country.
Behind the cruel penalty toward Jang, once Kim’s guardian, were highly calculated, double-edged political motives. Internally, Kim Jong-un was planting the fear that anyone reluctant to show blind allegiance will be inexorably removed from power. Externally, he was showing off his “unquestionable” power.