Japan’s largest newspaper reports that Kim Jong-Un was “very drunk” when he ordered the executions of two aides close to his uncle, Jang Song-Thaek.
On Monday South Korea’s JoongAng Daily cited the Japan-based Yomiuri Shimbun in reporting that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had been heavily inebriated when he ordered the execution of Ri Ryong-Ha, the first deputy director of the administrative department of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party (WPK), and Jang Su-Gil, a deputy director of the department. Both were close aides to Kim’s uncle Jang, who was also later executed.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun report, which cited a source within the regime, Kim had asked Ri and Jang Su-Gil to give some of the WPK’s most profitable businesses to the military. The two said they had to first consult Jang Song-Thaek, who was then the head of the administrative department of the WPK. This reportedly angered Kim, who ordered that they be executed despite being “very drunk” at the time.
Ri and Jang Su-Gil were executed in late November, according to the report. Their executions appear to have been the start of a larger string of purges and executions, including those of Jang Song-Thaek, who was thought to be the second most powerful person in North Korea after Kim Jong-Un himself. Word of Jang Song-Thaek’s purge and subsequent executions has set off alarm bells in Seoul, Beijing and Washington, all of whom are concerned about the stability of the North Korean regime.
Although it’s impossible to know Kim Jong-Un’s blood alcohol content at the time he ordered the executions, the source Yomiuri Shimbun cites in the report gained credibility when, on Monday, South Korea’s intelligence agency presented its view of the events leading up to the purge.
Nam Jae-Joon, director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Services, told a parliamentary committee on Monday that contrary to North Korea’s claims, Jang was not planning to seize power from his nephew, Kim Jong-Un. Rather, as Yomiuri’s source claimed, Jang and his associates were purged because of their ongoing dispute with the military over who should maintain control over some of North Korea’s lucrative exports.
The New York Times, citing U.S. and South Korean officials, added more details in a report on Monday. Specifically, the newspaper said that Jang and his associates had been at loggerheads with the North Korean military over which group should control the clams, crabs and coal that Pyongyang sells to China for huge profits. The NYT report said that the military was routed by Jang and his loyalists when they initially tried to take back a western sea port. It was only after they sent in a much larger force that they were able to overpower Jang’s associates.
Meanwhile, DailyNK, a site run by defectors that is known to have many sources in North Korea, reported at the end of last week that since Jang’s execution, hundreds of his blood relatives have been rounded up and sent to the country’s infamous labor camps. In North Korea, the families of people found guilty of a political crime are often sent to concentration camps along with the alleged criminal. In many cases, the North Korean regime punishes three generations of the family, meaning that many North Koreans are born in the horrendous labor camps and forced to spend their entire lives within the compound.