On Friday, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency released a stunning 2,700-word diatribe announcing that Jang Song Thaek—the once-powerful uncle of Kim Jong Un and now a “traitor for all ages” reduced to “despicable human scum”—had been executed for plotting a coup and committing “thrice-cursed acts of treachery,” including “half-heartedly clapping” at a ceremony for Kim. With analysts divided over whether the news suggests the young North Korean leader is consolidating or losing control, we asked Adam Cathcart, a historian of North Korea at the University of Leeds, to annotate the most notable sections of KCNA’s report. Beyond the florid rhetoric, what is the significance of this unprecedented glimpse into power politics in Pyongyang?
Read more. [Image: Reuters/Kyoto]
It could be nothing more than a rumor, but word on China’s Twitter equivalent, Weibo, is that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has died in a possible coup.
The news, which would be a huge game-changer if true, has started to seep into Twitter, with MIT journalism instructor Seth Mnookin tweeting, “Rumor of assassination also floating around; no confirmation RT @KSHartnett Hearing word of #NorthKorea coup. Kim Jong Un on the run.” The news apparently spreading among traders, as journalist Harry Cole reports. But everybody with half a brain is treating the rumor with a good deal of suspicion. Read more.
Like father, like son. Since the recent death of Kim Jong Il, North Korean state-run media has been releasing a series of images of the “Great Successor,” Kim Jong Un, visiting schools, factories, and military facilities. These visits, which were frequently publicized by his father and his grandfather Kim Il Sung, are called “field guidance” trips — opportunities for the supreme leader to give on-the-spot advice. Based on the state-released photos in this collection, he is following closely in his father’s footsteps, albeit with a touch more visible affection. See more.