News / Asia

Former North Korean Soldiers Vow to Overthrow Kim Family Rule

A new organization in South Korea vows to end Pyongyang's government and unify the Korean peninsula
A new organization in South Korea vows to end Pyongyang's government and unify the Korean peninsula

Multimedia

Audio

A new organization in South Korea, claiming it includes more than 100 former North Korean military members, vows to end Pyongyang's government and unify the Korean peninsula. The North Korea Peoples Liberation Front also says it has support from current members of the communist state's military, but political analysts are skeptical.

Exit 3 of Seoul's Singil subway station seems an unlikely place to begin a revolution. But 75 people who say they are former North Korean soldiers and other defectors gathered there to do just that.

Quest to liberate homeland

Clad in camouflage fatigues, some with pellet guns holstered on their belts, they stood at attention in the rain to launch their quest to liberate their homeland on its 62nd anniversary.

They shout, "The souls of those who starved to death curse Kim Jong II!"

Leaders of the group they call the North Korea Peoples Liberation Front then read a statement condemning to death the North Korean leader and staged his mock execution.

The group says it will leave the actual overthrow of North Korea's government to co-conspirators it claims to have inside the country. The group says it is in contact with disaffected officers of the North Korean army.

Namkung Young, a political science professor at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, says the group's members certainly know better than most outsiders what the situation is like inside North Korea. But he says they should be realistic and know there is little chance of achieving their goals in the near future.

Impact on relations

The professor cautions that South Korean government support for such an organization could further worsen tensions with Pyongyang.

South Korea's government is saying little about the group. An official at the Unification Ministry, who did not want to speak for attribution, notes any group has freedom of association in the country as long as it does not violate the law. Beyond that, he says, the ministry has no comment about the group.

Some North Korea scholars are skeptical. They ask if the group has collaborators in the North Korean military, why would it publicly reveal that?

Human-rights experts and many governments consider impoverished North Korea to be one of the most repressive nations in the world. Defectors say citizens can be condemned to years in harsh prison camps for any criticism of the government.

Discontentment

A U.S. military analyst is unaware of any independent corroboration of the group's claim that troops in the North are discontented enough to try overthrowing the government.

North Korea is preparing to hold a rare political meeting. Political analysts believe delegates of the Workers' Party will elect, for the first time in three decades, new leaders. Among the fresh faces may be the supreme leader's third son, Kim Jong Un. That could be the first significant step by the elder Kim to pass power to his little-known offspring, who is believed to be about 27 years old.

North Korea says party delegates will meet in Pyongyang in early September. Dress rehearsals have been held but just when the meeting will begin – like so much else in the reclusive state – remains shrouded in mystery.


Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More