Kim Jong Un Executes His Uncle and Former Mentor, Jang Song Thaek

In a sudden development that is one of the most public “purges” in North Korea since the 1950s, chilling international ‘North Korea watchers’, Kim Jong had his own uncle and former political tutor / mentor, Jang Song Thaek, arrested during a general meeting of North Korean leaders, taken away and executed by firing squad on December 12th 2013.

“Although high-ranking leaders, including members of the Kim family, have been deposed before, we haven’t seen anything this public or dramatic since Kim Jong-un’s grandfather Kim Il-sung purged his last major rivals in the late 1950s,” said Prof. Charles K. Armstrong, a North Korea expert at Columbia University and the author of “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992.”

Charges were announced by top North Korean officials in the DRNK that Thaek had been planning a military coup against the Un regime, which is doubtful at best. A long laundry list of allegations were made by the DRNK against Thaek to justify his execution to the general populace, including the bizarre allegation that Thaek often “failed to applaud with enough enthusiasm” when in the presence of North Korean leadership.

The indications from this action are that Kim Jong Un intends to assume sole dictatorial and executive authority in North Korea with an absolute iron fist.  Instilling fear and terror into his remaining advisors and military leaders, some of which are blood relatives, had to also have been a motive in the sudden and especially cruel action by Un.

Thaek had been the second most powerful man in North Korea and mentored the youthful Un in his new role as dynastic heir and leader of the North Korean nation. The White House has condemned the brutal execution.

Cited: “The trial took place yesterday and the death sentence was carried out immediately, the official Korean Central News Agency reported today. Jang was arrested at a ruling party meeting last week on charges of factionalism and graft.

The blitzkrieg-style execution shows the North is determined to wipe out any potential source of dissidence,” Koh Yu Hwan, a professor of North Korean Studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, said by phone. “More purges are expected.”

Jang has now been airbrushed out of all existing photos and videos, another sign of old school “Josef Stalin style” hardline purges, indicating renewed brutality and the strict over-control of all historical record keeping and official documentation of the new regime of Un.

Cited from the NYT news website: “If Kim Jong-un was sure of his control of power, he would not have needed to execute his uncle,” said Lee Byong-chul, a senior fellow at the Institute for Peace and Cooperation in Seoul. “There will be big and small bloody purges, and at a time like this, desperate extremists may lash out. Pyongyang is no longer safe.”

See http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-12/kim-jong-un-only-wants-selfies.html

See also http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/12/21880254-a-very-worrisome-sign-north-korea-executes-uncle-of-leader-kim-jong-un

See also http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/12/13/an-intolerable-mockery-the-wild-eyed-worldview-of-north-korean-propaganda/

Browse all posts and articles on Screenshots News Blog tagged “North Korea”

NY Times Op-Ed: “Bomb North Korea Before It’s Too Late”

So it’s not just me, huh?

You know how serious it must be when the New York Times weighs in and implores our military to please do SOMETHING about North Korea. I actually thought this headline was a spoofed item, until I followed the link and saw the article posted on their “opinion” page. The article reads like a foreign policy directive. Hmmmm. We don’t really know what the White House and Pentagon are doing about North Korea from behind the scenes, but I would be much more comfortable getting the mood of US foreign policy from the horse’s mouth, rather than the NYT.

I’m sure my readers are sick to death of hearing me rail on and on about North Korea, but why hang the lovely canary in your coal mine if you are not going to check to see if it’s still singing once in a while?

Well, right now, I’m still singing. The signs are all awful, they are all as ominous as hell, I live on the “f%$#@king west coast” and of course I am livid about all of it. Writing about it brings a brief modicum of relief.  [ Send me a bag of good strong pot. That would REALLY help. ]

But don’t take my warning song seriously. Go on over to the New York Times and get a gander of the tune they are singing right now. I am officially wondering out loud whether this OP-ED is for real, or whether it is just carefully calculated “fear porn”?

In related news, on April 13th a peculiar news story appeared on the website http://superofficialnews.com. The report alleges that an American business man in South Korea had access to tourist telescopes from the rooftop of his hotel. He claimed to observe via telescope as US Stealth Bombers dropped thousands of leaflets all over Pyongyang, warning the people of the city to evacuate en masse to save themselves ahead of a missile strike which would destroy the entire city. A copy of the alleged leaflet appears below:

Leaflets warning North Korea of impending attack

Below is the English translation:

 

“ATTENTION NORTH KOREAN PEOPLE. EVACUATE PYONGYANG NOW!
Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or friend. In the next few days, the city of Pyongyang and its surrounding military bases will be destroyed. Unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America’s humanitarian policies, the United States Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate Pyongyang and save your life.

Your military leaders have refused to quiet their threats of a nuclear war against South Korea. Kim Jung-Un has been warned multiple times to end his rhetoric of nonsense and pull back his military forces but refuses. The actions of this insane, immature, reckless, evil dictator will no longer be accepted by the U.S. and the rest of the world. This aggression will not stand, man.

The American people and the rest of the world truly feel for you innocent people who are being held against your will. Hopefully by destroying Kim Jung-Un and most of the military your country can start fresh. This attack will give your people the ability to rise up and claim your country as your own. You will no longer have to fear the prison camps and being tortured for speaking out against your ruthless leaders. You will never have to listen to the propaganda and lies that your government tells you on a daily basis. You will be free to own your own business and make your own money. You will be free to disrespect your leaders if you do not agree with them without fear of being tortured and your family imprisoned. You will no longer be shut off from the rest of the world. Unfortunately though, all of this is up to you. America and it’s allies will be sending NO ground forces to North Korea. The only attacks will be bombs dropped from overhead, just like this leaflet that has come into your possession. America is not fighting the North Korean people but is fighting the military clique which has enslaved your people. Hopefully after this is over, a new, better and free North Korea will emerge. You can restore peace by demanding new and good leaders. It is your country. This is your time to rise up and take what is yours. Every one in the world wishes you nothing but the best. EVACUATE PYONGYANG NOW!”

At this time the only information known is that the leaflets are just being released over Pyongyang. The Korean Broadcasting System is saying the amount of leaflets being dumped number in the millions.

I am assuming the above news story is an “Onion-worthy” satirical piece. It has several misspellings in it and the vernacular is riddled with common slang. One Example: “This will not stand, man.”

The story is assumed to be NOT real. But interesting nonetheless. See also:

Bomb North Korea, Before It’s Too Late

bombnorthkorea-nyt

See also Contrasting Views on North Korea Underscore Sensitivities and Lack of Evidence

See also US Stealth Bombers Drop Leaflets Over North Korea Warning of Attack

North Korea: Korean American Tourist Arrested, Tried for Taking Photos of Conditions, Sentenced to 15 Years Hard Labor

Updated on May 2nd 2013

The man who was arrested in North Korea in the story I reported on last week has been tried and sentenced to 15 years hard labor, in an update posted today by the BBC.

North Korea sentences US citizen to 15 years’ hard labour

Earlier this week I had written:

“North Korea Charges American With Plotting to Topple It’s Government”

Earlier this week I had reported …

The Ultimate Cautionary Tale from North Korea:  Korean-American  Arrested for Taking Photos & Video of Actual Conditions in North Korea,  Now Faces Possible Death Penalty

North Korea AmericanHeld.jpg

A photograph of the austere courtroom in North Korea where Bae will be tried. There is a possible death penalty associated with his alleged crimes. Many western writers feel Bae is, of course, being used as a pawn in the deadly game which North Korea is playing, attempting once again to extort food aid from the West by creating high drama trumped up “incidents” such as Bae’s arrest last November.

I’m not sure why this news story has languished in the shadows since last November, [ cough… more blacklisted news ]  but apparently a Korean-American tourist, 44 year old Kenneth Bae, who took photos of homeless children and gathered video evidence of public executions in Pyongyang was arrested last November by North Korean authorities and has been in a North Korean prison since then. Bae is soon to be tried for his alleged “crimes” against North Korea and the story is finally leaking out. I found the report today on Reuters. Bae’s crime was taking photos and video recordings of the actual conditions existent in North Korea, in other words, he dared to record and make a visual record of actuality in the starving oppressed nation.

Accused: American tour guide Kenneth Bae faces the death penalty in North Korea for allegedly photographing starving orphans

Kenneth Bae

“Friends and colleagues described Bae as a devout Christian from Washington state but based in the Chinese border city of Dalian who traveled frequently to North Korea to feed the country’s orphans.”

Why did this story take nearly 5 months to appear in the American news media?

Apparently I am one of the few Americans [ and a citizen reporter ] whose senses have not been so dulled by our daily deluge of meaningless American TV programming and all-consuming distractions, that I still give a damn about a nation of 24 million people whose suffering is so great it is almost impossible to fathom. So I do something which many would consider foolish, even futile.

I report on North Korea in the hope, partially, that I might inspire other American news bloggers to do the same [ we are still a small outpost at this time ] and that I might eventually shame the Big Media networks into reporting this awful awful ongoing and heinous story to the American people, raising enough of an outcry and a clamor for justice that something might shift in the Southeast Asian landscape, which is now littered with more than 3 million dead North Koreans and more dying daily.

Here’s the Reuters report I found on 04.27.2013:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/27/us-korea-north-bae-idUSBRE93Q01H20130427?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=71&google_editors_picks=true

Other recent reports I have written on North Korea are here.

See also Pyongyang glitters but most of North Korea still dark

North Korea Escalates Tensions By Declaring Intent to Restart Nuclear Weapons Production

“Nuclear threats are not a game,” Mr. Ban said at a news conference in Andorra. “The current crisis has already gone too far.” – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Kim Jong Eun is apparently now ‘giving the finger’ to the US and the rest of the world. While the US and South Korea continue to hold a stern line [ the US sent a nuclear warship into international waters to watch for any attempted missile launch by the north over the past few days ] Jong Eun continues to do and say ALL THE WRONG THINGS TO KEEP THE PEACE, escalating tensions most recently by announcing on 04.02.2013 that North Korea will soon revive all of it’s shuttered nuclear reactors and begin processing plutonium again for the purposes of expanding it’s nuclear arsenal.

Cited:  “The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said Tuesday that North Korea appeared to be “on a collision course with the international community,” The Associated Press reported. Speaking in Andorra, where he is on an official visit, Mr. Ban said the crisis had gone too far and international negotiations were urgently needed.”

Upping the Ante with the International Community: Photo of one of North Korea’s dilapidated nuclear reactors.

Complicating any efforts to monitor this latest development is the fact that a small scale plutonium enrichment plant [ about 600 square meters in size ] could actually be built and operated literally underground in one of North Korea’s more than 8,000 tunnels which criss-cross the nation. Should North Korea choose this route any aerial surveillance of the plant would be impossible, of course. North Korea’s underground tunnel system is elaborate. Much of it is decades old and is believed to be for both military use and for civil defense purposes. I have included some photos of the North Korean tunnel systems. In 1974 it was discovered the North Korea was tunneling under the DMZ into South Korea.

Cited: North Korea is rich in uranium ores. Unlike the plutonium program, which included a large and easily spotted nuclear reactor, an enrichment plant composed of 1,000 centrifuges occupies a 600-square-meter space, small enough to be hidden in one of the estimated 8,000 tunnels North Korea has dug for military purposes across its mountainous terrain, South Korean military officials said.”

Cited:

“On November 15, 1974 while in operation in the western DMZ near Korangpo, allied reconnaissance troops found steam rising from the earth’s surface indicating that a tunnel was present underneath the DMZ. The tunnels depth is believed to be some 45 meters, has a total length of 3,500 meters of which 1,000 meters invaded into the DMZ. The tunnel is along a course that would have exiting soldiers heading towards Korango, Uijongbu and is some 65 km from Seoul, 8 km northeast of Korangpo. It has a prefabricated wall of concrete and slate. When discovered, there were 220-volt and 60-watt lamps, electric lines, railways, and track vehicles. The ground is inclined by 5 degrees to the north to prevent water from gathering. There are turning points on the railroad. The tunnel is large enough to allow the transit of a regiment of troops and heavy artillery every hour.

On March 19, 1975 a second tunnel was discovered following the testimony of Kim Bu-sung, former official of the Liaison Bureau of the Workers’ Party of North Korea, who participated in the construction of underground tunnels and defected to the South in 1974. The South Korean Army analyzed the sound of underground explosions which started to be heard in Cholwon in 1972, and examined suspected sites. The arch-shaped tunnel is double the size of the 1st Underground Tunnel. There is a plaza where troops gather, and three exits which were to be used for both conventional and unconventional warfare. The tunnel is located some 13 km north of Cholwon and is 101 km from Seoul. It has a total length of 3,500 meters and is 50-160 meter below the surface. About 3,000 armed troops and their vehicles, artillery and tanks can pass per hour.”

See http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/dprk/kpa-tunnels.htm

North Korean Infiltration Tunnels Under the DMZ

https://i1.wp.com/www.f-106deltadart.com/Korea-DMZ/photos/tunnels/oct03_dmz_tunnel3-2.jpg

See also North Korea Constructs “Underground Runway”

Illustration of a Third 1978 Underground Tunnel Built by North Korea into South Korea

Cited:

The 3rd infiltration Tunnel

“A North Korean defector told the South Koreans that tunnels were being constructed to allow N. Korean troops to invade S. Korea. After four years of searching, this large tunnel – the 3rd – was discovered. To find the tunnel the S. Koreans sunk many water pipes into the ground, filled them with water and waited. When dynamite exploded near a water pipe, the vibrations caused the water to spill from the nearest pipe alerting the S. Koreans to underground activity. North Korea claimed the tunnel was a coal mine and even painted the walls with coal dust but the tunnel was closed. We were able to take a long underground walk to visit the end of the tunnel but no cameras were allowed.

From Wikipedia: “The third tunnel was discovered on October 17, 1978. Unlike the previous two, the third tunnel was discovered following a tip from a North Korean defector. This tunnel is about 1,600 m (1,700 yd) long and about 350 m (1,150 ft) below ground. Foreign visitors touring the South Korean DMZ may view inside this tunnel using a sloped access shaft.”

North Korea Nuclear Test Information from 2010

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30554196@N06/7486393686/

North Korean War Propaganda Videos and The ‘Lighter Side’ of Sabre Rattling

So, what’s the real disposition of the North Korean people regarding a possible war with the US and South Korea? Today I went looking for answers to this question, [ if they exist] in video form. Here is part of what I am finding.

North Korea:  The Back Story

America’s Warning to North Korea

North Korea: The Darker Side

North Korea: The Lighter Side

Related Posts and Articles

http://www.france24.com/en/20130311-south-korea-us-drills-start-northe-rejects-armistice

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/news/article-2301127/Stay-away-North-Korea–war-HOURS-AWAY-Kim-Jong-Uns-chilling-message-British-tour-boss.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

Full Text of Latest Propaganda Statement from North Korea Published By UK News Website

North Korean Propaganda Artist Escapes and Becomes Satirical Cartoonist Who Lampoons North Korea

North Korean War Propaganda Videos and The Lighter Side of Sabre Rattling

UK News Site Publishes Photos of Kim Jong Eun Signing Off on Plans To Attack US

North Korea Threatens US With Preemptive Nuclear Strike

Headshot of John Kerry with the U.S. flag in t...

Headshot of John Kerry with the U.S. flag in the background. Are you up for this Mr. Kerry? First order of business:  DO SOMETHING about Kim Jong Eun’s nuclear strike verbage.

I’ve been following the increasingly bizarre threats coming out of North Korea for weeks. The “Dennis Rodman” visit was nothing short of surreal. I live on the West Coast, so naturally I don’t find any of this “we’re gonna nuke you” talk from North Korea funny in the least.

US analysts are routinely dismissive of North Korea’s latest military swagger as puerile. They cite the chirping broken record of a repeating pattern which has been in place since Kim Jong Eun’s father led the tiny isolated nation up until his death. The pattern usually goes:  North Korea defies the global community and tries a nuclear test. The global community responds with sanctions. North Korea is outraged and acts out by making awful threats and tries to do even more forbidden nuclear tests. The global community reacts, lather rinse repeat. Something is really wrong with this pattern.

Isn’t insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

OK maybe it’s just me, but these latest threats somehow feel different. It’s something in my gut. When I wake up at 4 am and something feels seriously “not right” in the greater world at large, it does make me wonder.

Is the North Korea problem becoming a case of the boy who cried wolf? Are they lunatic enough to actually attempt a nuclear first strike, because IF they were to do such an unthinkable thing, it would be the LAST thing they ever did before their utter and absolute evaporation occurred. I’m just saying.  The USA has played “nice” with North Korea’s tantrums through the decades, not unlike a patient but stern parent. We removed the last of our own nukes from South Korean soil in 1991. That should have gone a long way as a goodwill gesture.

Certainly the Jon Eun regime has the capacity to do enough military math to ascertain that any attempt by them at a preemptive nuclear strike on the United States would result in the instant nuclear evaporation of their entire nation in a millisecond, by way of a US military response, right?  Surely they do know this, correct?  Because if they don’t comprehend the utterly horrific and dire consequences of playing with harsh words and nuclear fire, then someone better inform them pronto. Mr. Kerry, You’re on.

Please take the matches out of the hands of these terribly acting out children, before they do something stupid that results in the instant obliteration of their entire nation forever. It’s not out of the question that North Korea will become  nothing more than an endless charcoal colored charred ruin with some white bones sticking out of it, where a small nation used to be, if someone doesn’t put a stop to the deranged rhetoric streaming out of Jong Eun’s regime.

This latest round of commentary from Jong Eun feels darker and markedly different, and I really do wonder if Jong Eun is crazy enough to put the entire nation of North Korea on the altar of his inflated military ego, endangering his country’s very existence for the sake of looking like a Napoleonic ‘little big man’ on the world stage.

Cited:

Calling the sanctions part of a U.S.-led “war of aggression,” the North vowed to “display the might… it built up decades after decades and put an end to the evil cycle of tension,” according to a statement published by the nation’s state-run news agency and attributed to a foreign ministry spokesman.

Just exactly what are our foreign policy people doing to DE-escalate the irrational chest beating coming out of Kim Jong Eun? Can’t we do better than Dennis Rodman?  Are official foreign policy phones ringing off the hook somewhere?  Because if they are not, they should be.

I did learn one odd new fact today that adds to the surreal nature of the escalating tensions. Part of our latest round of sanctions aimed at punishing North Korea for playing with nuke missiles again is the prohibition of the sale of certain luxury items which are coveted by the North Korean elites:

“The new measures ban the export to North Korea of luxury items such as jewelry, yachts, luxury automobiles and racing cars. ‘North Korea’s ruling elite, who have been living large while impoverishing their people, will pay a direct price for this nuclear test,’ Ms. Rice said.”

Well that makes me feel MUCH better. Now that I know that North Korean officials can no longer order luxury yachts, race cars and fancy jewelry while they tinker with their nukes I’ll sleep better at night for sure.

John Kerry, I hope you are rested and ready for the opening moments of your tenure as Secretary of State. God be with you, my good man.

Here is the latest:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/north-korea-threatens-nuclear-strike-against-aggressors/2013/03/07/1a1e1ada-8726-11e2-999e-5f8e0410cb9d_story.html

Related:

Don’t Nuke US Kim Jong Eun. If You Do, You Might Hurt One of Our NBA Basketball Stars.