Forbes' Chang: Murder of Kim's Uncle May 'Rock NKorea's Core'

Friday, 13 Dec 2013 07:57 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's execution this week of his uncle Jang Song Thaek is likely to trigger a power struggle that rocks the country's core, according to Gordon Chang, a Forbes columnist and expert on Asia.

"This is the first time that there's been a public announcement of an execution of a member of the Kim family circle and so this is something which is certainly unusual," Chang told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

Story continues below video.

"This could be a blood feud because Jang Song Thaek … is rumored to have had an affair with Kim Jong Un's wife.

"It is also a power struggle because Kim Jong Un wants to consolidate his position and this is going to have reverberations because Jong Song Thaek had friends throughout the regime.''

In announcing the execution of Jang Song-thaek, who was also a high-ranking government official, North Korea's state news agency KCNA called him "despicable human scum" and "worse than a dog."

KCNA said North Koreans were outraged at Jang's betrayal of his nephew.

Chang said those friends and their families are likely to be subject to execution or imprisonment in death camps.

"Which means that they've either got to fight or flee. So there's going to be all sorts of problems that we're going to see out of North Korea over the next several months and maybe even years," he said.

Kim's power could be in jeopardy as his uncle's friends seek retribution, Change believes.

"There is actually a threat to his rule. We don't know the dimension of the threat, but clearly there are people here who want revenge," he said.

"We have to remember that in the first two years of Kim Jung Un's rule, about 45 percent of senior regime officials have been replaced and purged. Some of them have been executed. That means a lot of people want to get back in and revenge will be the dynamic of North Korean regime politics for quite some time to come.

"There's going to be a lot of turmoil and uncertainty and this really means that North Korea could actually become quite dangerous not only to its neighbors, but also to the United States."

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