Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wildly speculative North Korea intrigue theory #6, the Uncle Sal edition: Kim Jong-un whacked Jang Songthaek because Jang Songthaek whacked his dad

I hate it when North Korean leaders die during finals. It really curbs my ability to let loose on analysis, speculation, and blatant sh¡t-stirring.

Over at One Free Korea, Joshua Stanton cleverly describes what's going on up in Pyongyang as "like The Borgias meets The Killing Fields." Throw in The Godfather to that mix, and you have a taste of what's going on up there, even if you lack details. Surely anyone who has read a detailed history of Korea's historical dynasties or watched a Korean historical drama (사극) can recognize the themes of power and betrayal.

But in South Korea and the rest of the world, all we're left with is imagination and speculation, and some of that speculation can be quite interesting. Here is one that I think is actually plausible, even if it is no more than reasoned speculation. In this, Jang Songthaek is akin to Salvatore "Sal" Tessio, Don Coreleone's partern played by Abe Vigoda in The Godfather.

Note that Jang was removed and executed a few days before Kim Jong-il's chess (제사) marking the two-year anniversary of his death. Kim Jong-un did not want his uncle there specifically, which he likely would have been had he held the same posts as before his purge.

KJI did not die of the ills he was widely publicized to have had (e.g., pancreatic cancer). He was traveling and performing his duties when it happened. His death came as a surprise and it took the authorities two days to announce it. My belief is that it is plausible he was in fact killed. The connection to this is that if he was killed, it likely came at the hands of Jang Songthaek or someone acting with his knowledge.

KJU finds this out eventually and is furious. He literally wants his uncle dead. Just look at the kid during the funeral: He was visibly shaken and distraught. His father may have been a murderous tyrant, but he was his dad.

The last thing a KJU now armed with this knowledge wants is for this hypocritical fiend to appear at the chesa pretending to be distraught himself. That would make KJU explode: No, JST must be gone before the chesa. And so it was.

Not exactly the same as Sal Tessio's demise, but a little bit. I'm guessing Jang wasn't as calm and quiet about it.


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