News / Asia

South Koreans Concerned About Pyongyang's Political Purge

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends an event to mark the second anniversary of the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, Dec. 17, 2013.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends an event to mark the second anniversary of the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in Pyongyang, Dec. 17, 2013.
Junghwa Baek
South Korean social media are filled with comments expressing concern over the sudden execution of North Korean official Jang Song Thaek.
 
According to Korean Central News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered Jang, his uncle and adviser, executed last week. The execution came just a few days before the second anniversary of the death of Kim’s father, and predecessor, Kim Jong Il. Jang was married to Kim Jong Il's sister.
 
In South Korea, citizens are nervous about the implications of a political purge in their secretive neighbor, considered one of the world’s most repressive nations.
 
“I am shocked that his execution took place as soon as his trial ended without chance of defense," writes “Nadakik” on the Korean site Naver Blog. "I am worried about how quickly Kim Jong Un executed his uncle.”
 
Jang, long a prominent figure in North Korea's senior leadership, was abruptly removed from his posts and tried on charges that ranged from gambling and womanizing to plotting to overthrow Kim. Some of Jang's allies also have been executed.
 
Cheon Jeong-bae, the former South Korean justice minister, tweeted, “I am not sure whether Jang committed a serious offense or not, but North Korea has to be severely punished for their action.”
 
Most South Korean writers shared worries about North Koreans’ human rights. They were shocked by Kim’s action and felt sympathy for their fellow Koreans in the North.
 
“I think South Koreans have to take up a positive attitude to solve the question of human rights for North Koreans,” writes “Michael” on an Internet newspaper for North Korean defectors, noting that since United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is a South Korean, those in the South have a special responsibility to protect human rights. “We must do the right thing for people living all over the world.”
 
South Koreans also feel uneasy because in 2010 there were two deadly incidents involving the North Korean military: early that year, a North Korean torpedo sank the South Korean ship, the Cheonan, killing 46 sailors. Several months later, the North shelled Yeonpyeong island, killing two South Korean civilians and two Marines.
 
There are some fears that Jang Song Thaek’s execution could indicate social unrest in North Korea. Because of that, one Naver blogger writes: “Especially, I am worried about the relationship between South Korea and North Korea. Since Jang Song Thaek was executed there is high probability of a provocation by North Korea to South Korea, to distract the North Korean people. Therefore, the [South] Korean government has to prepare for that, and I hope nothing goes wrong.”
 
Indeed, after Jang’s execution last week, the powerful head of North Korea’s military’s political bureau, Choe Ryong Hae, warned, “War will break out without advertisement.”
 
In the South, the government is paying attention to such statements, and to the possibility that Pyongyang’s political changes are a sign of instability.
 
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told military commanders that “North Korea wants to consolidate their [political] system with [Jang’s] execution, but the unrest could be aggravated. For this reason, they may provoke us in the first half of next year. I will command the army to punish the threat instantly, without gloves.”
 
Jang’s execution has brought new tensions between North and South Korea. The two countries remain technically at war, since they never signed a peace treaty after an armistice ended fighting in the Korean War in 1953. The animosity has at times flared up, resulting in limited military action and deaths. Now, the world is watching North Korea’s young leader, waiting to see if his next moves aggravate tensions.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students 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.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid