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More key officials fleeing N. Korea amid leader's brutal rule: source

2015/11/23 15:35

SEOUL, Nov. 23 (Yonhap) -- A growing number of North Korean key party and military officials has been fleeing the communist country to evade leader Kim Jong-un's reign of terror, a source familiar with North Korean affairs said Monday.

Kim has purged or executed many North Korean officials, Seoul's intelligence agency earlier said, putting the number of those killed at about 70.

The source said that in the past, North Koreans had fled their home country due mainly to their livelihoods and other personal reasons, but since Kim took office in late 2011, more of the North's power elites have escaped from the country due to the leader's iron-fisted rule.

"Apparently, Kim seems to be consolidating his power, but the real situation is that the North is not stable," the source said.

He did not elaborate but added that some officials from the North's state security department appear to be included on the list of North Korean defectors while generals may not be on the list.

Meanwhile, the source said that what matters to North Koreans most, ahead of the ruling party's congress, is how much the North's regime can improve its feeble economy.

The Worker's Party of Korea (WPK) plans to convene the congress for the first time in more than three decades in early May, where the North is likely to unveil new policies.

North Korea has been fully mobilizing North Koreans for major construction projects and the WPK's founding anniversary, which fell on Oct. 10. It is now pushing its people to prepare for the party congress.

"If the regime is not able to satisfy North Koreans, their disappointment will likely be jacked up," the source added.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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