Troubling news of DPRK crackdown

According to the Choson Ilbo:

The North Korean regime appears to have started a new reign of terror to consolidate the succession of leader Kim Jong-il’s son Jong-un.

The South Korean government and a North Korean source on Wednesday said public executions more than tripled last year. And increasing numbers of North Koreans have been killed trying to cross the Apnok (or Yalu) or Duman (or Tumen) River after the regime gave a shoot-to-kill order. The party and military, meanwhile, are engulfed in a whirlwind of purges, observers believe.

Public Executions

A diplomatic source familiar with North Korean affairs Wednesday said there were 60 confirmed public executions in the North last year, more than triple the number of 2009. “Since last year, the regime has put a notice on bulletin boards warning that those who use Chinese-made mobile phones or illegally circulate dollars face public execution, the source said.

Another source familiar with North Korean affairs said, “It’s rumored that Kim Jong-un has called for ‘gunshots across the country.’ Kim Jong-il did exactly the same thing when he took power.”

Jang Se-yul of the North Korean People’s Liberation Front, a group of former North Korean soldiers and officers who defected to South Korea, said, “In Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province alone last year, at least six people were executed publicly on charges of human trafficking and robbery. People are executed publicly for crimes that would have sent them to prison for just a few years in the past.”

“The number of public executions had gradually dwindled in the North since the famine of the late 1990s,” said International security ambassador Nam Joo-hong. “But since last year, the regime has apparently relied increasingly on public executions to tighten control in the aftermath of the botched currency reform and complaints about the hereditary succession.”

‘Shoot-to-Kill’ Order Against Defectors

Observers believe the regime has issued a shoot-to-kill order against defectors. According to a high-level source in the Changbai region in the Chinese province of Jilin, five North Koreans were shot dead and two others wounded by North Korean border guards on the Chinese side of the border after they crossed the Apnok River on Dec. 14.

And the military is being purged of unreliable elements. Quoting an internal North Korean source last Saturday, Free North Korea Radio, a shortwave broadcaster in the South, said the number of inmates has soared at a labor camp under the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces in North Hamgyong Province. It said many of the inmates are former army generals who have been purged by Kim Jong-un.

The regime’s determination to tighten control is also reflected in the Workers Party’s new regulations, the first for 30 years. The regime recently added a new clause calling for all party members to abide by a new regulation requiring them “to oppose and fight against anti-socialist trends.”

A South Korean intelligence official said the phrase refers to elements of capitalism that have flowed in from South Korea. “The regime has paved the way to publicly execute even people who watch South Korean soap operas or dress in South Korean style, branding them as anti-party elements,” he said.

The Daily NK also reports some personnel changes:

North Korea has been replacing local Party officials with a younger generation since the Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference on September 28th, in preparation for Kim Jong Eun’s ascent to power.

In particular, North Korea replaced a great many officials in November and December of last year, a source from Chongjin has revealed, bringing in new provincial, municipal, and district institution officials and industrial complex Party committee members to replace those over 60 with people in their 30s and 40s.

The source commented, “After each Party committee’s annual evaluation meeting, the replacement of officials took place,” continuing, “For the stated purpose of raising the quality of the Party to make it a ‘young, vigorous, and ambitious party’, they are replacing aged officials with younger ones. Thus, recently some officials that people wouldn’t know if they tripped over them have been appearing.”

The policy apparently stems from Kim Jong Il, who is pushing the succession process forward relatively swiftly for reasons said to include his own health and North Korea’s external political environment. Of course, it is also a strategic move on the part of Kim Jong Il, to strengthen unity around Kim Jong Eun by bringing in new blood which will henceforth owe a debt of gratitude to him.

According to the source, Party committees organized a one-month short course for such young officials in October of last year, during which instructors dispatched from Pyongyang or the provincial Party center promoted the idea that youth, vigor and ambition, alongside iron loyalty to the dictator, would be necessary tenets of future party operations.

According to the source, officials emphasized during the lecture course, “Obeying Youth Captain Kim Jong Eun and working well are the kind of faithful actions which repay the trust we receive from the General,” and, “Officials need to strengthen the Party, following on from their predecessors.”

Adding detail to the Party reshuffling; the source said that graduates of Communist Colleges older than 60 are being relieved of their positions, and graduates of Kim Il Sung Senior Party College are filling the ranks in behind.

Those who have at least two-year career as secretary of a Party cell can enter a Communist College, a provincial entity managed by the provincial committee of the Party; after graduation they can work on a provincial committee of the Party.

However, Kim Il Sung Senior Party College, the so-called Central Party College, is a more elite institution in Pyongyang charged with fostering the Party’s core workers; it admits officials with a good family background who have been working for more than two years on a provincial committee.

According to North Korean defectors, once one graduates from Central Party College, one is on the road to a comfortable life. For example, in the words of one defector with experience of the system, any North Korean official with access to a vehicle is almost certain to have graduated from Central Party College.

Accordingly, using North Hamkyung Province as an example, people in ‘powerful’ departments like factory guidance units, the Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Guidance Department of North Hamkyung Province Party Committee, the Ministry of Administration, factory and industrial complex Party committees (Guidance Department, Officials Department, Propaganda and Agitation Department, Party Member Registration Department and General Affairs Department) have been or are being replaced with graduates from the Central Party School.

Those who are being eased out are either destined for less powerful departments, the source said, citing the Party Inspections Committee or Labor Organization Department, or are being completely removed.

Quoting a common phrase relating to the holding of power, the source said that those about to be replaced are full of regret, saying, “If I had known this would happen, I would have done more to prepare for my future when I had glue on my hands.”

A similar process of replacing officials was conducted in the 1980s, prior to Kim Jong Il’s coming to power. In addition to which, this fits in with the overall propaganda rhetoric, which is justifying Kim Jong Eun’s succession by emphasizing youth and his regime’s concomitant ability to apply technology (CNC etc.) to solve North Korea’s chronic economic shortcomings.

The usual caveats apply.

Read the full story here:
N.Korean Regime Intensifies ‘Reign of Terror’
Choson Ilbo

Youth, Vigor, Ambition, and Loyalty
Daily NK
Im Jeong Jin


One Response to “Troubling news of DPRK crackdown”

  1. Gag Halfrunt says:

    Presumably “those who use Chinese-made mobile phones […] face public execution” really means people along the Chinese border who use mobile phones on Chinese networks. After all, Koryolink’s phones are made in China.