- The Marmot's Hole take on the execution, with its basketful of links that demonstrates again why TMH is the premier K-blog
- One Free Korea discussion of Jang Songthaek being executed and then "vaporized" from North Korean media
That's the edifying part of this post, now onto total nonsense. As I've stated repeatedly over the past few years nobody knows what's happening in North Korea, including the North Koreans. While that's highly distressing if you're actually making plans that involve North Korea, it means that anybody can be a North Korea analyst.
So let's have a go at it: What do you think are the reasons KJU offed his uncle? Bonus points for getting as Shakespearean as possible.
- We already have Lankov's speculation (above) that Uncle Jang outlived his usefulness as regent once KJU was confident he'd solidified power and as mentor he basically said a lot of things that pissed off the flabby product of Generation-Y.
- There's also speculation that Uncle Jang had slept with Kim Jong-un's wife and there's a sex tape of it. Why there would be such a thing, I have no idea, as I'm frankly incredulous. But if I knew it were true and I had to pick a reason, it would be that Uncle Jang slept with North Korea's First Lady in order to spite his nephew, or because he wanted to manipulate his niece-in-law to do his bidding in controlling Young General Kim Jong-un through blackmail. On the other hand, there may be no strategic reason whatsoever and the guy just has a freak-on for doing something as dangerous and risky as bedding the leader's woman. But like I said, I don't think this is true.
- Kim Jong-un has discovered that Jang Song-thaek, who had long sought power, is responsible for Kim Jong-il's unexpected death in 2011, and KJU had JST killed out of anger and revenge. I haven't read this anywhere, but it popped into my head recently (KJI's death seemed rather out of the blue, despite reports of his pancreatic cancer).
- Kim Jong-un recently discovered that JST had KJI killed and felt that he might be next. This would be in line with the actual accusations in the KCNA that he was planning a coup. Such a personal threat would explain why KJU thought that mere exile wasn't appropriate and his uncle had to be permanently eliminated.
- Because of China acting like the center of the universe and pushing around North Korea's leadership, Beijing fell out of favor with Pyongyang (and vice versa) and Kim Jong-un sought new benefactors. Russia could be the new sugars daddy, but it would be a bold move on KJU’s part to side with the US and South Korea, or even Japan. Bold, but not totally implausible. The Western-educated and basketball-loving KJU simply wants to stay in power and continue his lavish lifestyle, but who’s to say that’s not possible if he makes peace with Washington and Seoul and tries Chinese-style reforms without the Chinese? Whether he's interested in the lavish lifestyle or not, dragging the DPRK into 21st century would make him a true national hero in a way his father never could be. At any rate, the old guard would be adamantly opposed to this, so they would have to be eliminated.
- Uncle Jang was skimming a lot more than people realized and he was making money hand over fist with his deals with the Chinese, in order to put together a nest egg before North Korean collapses or he just simply decided to seek exile in China.
- Kim Jong-un is simply a sociopath. This is my least preferred explanation because it falls into the trap that just because we don't understand what is happening means it is incomprehensible or without reason. Sorry, but deadly political intrigue did not begin with KJU, so this is not a satisfying explanation.
- Kim Jong-un is on meth (a major FX-earning export of North Korea) and has developed paranoia as a result.
Any other wild and unsubstantiated explanations for what's going on?
Bullet point #5, as wonderful as it would be, seems too idealistic. I'm tired of having a sliver of hope in the back of my mind that something positive could come out of this craziness. Also, as we've all heard of the reason #1 (JST sleeping with KJU's wife), I think this could not be true because if it was, I'm almost positive that it would have been kept under wraps by the family and regime. That's the ultimate disgrace and loss of face to the Kim family if that was true...plus, that means JST slept with two Kim (chonju kim clan) women, albeit one of them is by marriage only.ReplyDelete
I think the execution could just be a combination of bullet point 1 & 6 (you should have numbered or named your bullet points for ease of reference) and that the execution was a strong example to whomever he was trying to send a message to. Just my 2 cents.