December 05, 2020

ANALYSIS: Jang Song Thaek’s very public purge

Dr. Andrei Lankov discusses the very public political purge of the once powerful Jang Song Thaek

One cannot say that the two year long rule of Kim Jong Un has been tranquil and quiet. As a matter of fact, it has been marked by series of large scale purges – on a scale that North Korea has not seen for decades. Last year was a time when the top echelons of the military were systematically replaced. It now appears that the time for a similar purge of the civilian bureaucracy has come.

The very recent downfall of Jang Song Thaek – Kim Jong Un’s uncle – is an important event. It can be described as both unexpected but also anticipated. On the one hand, Jang’s displacement has been expected within certain circles for sometime now. On the other hand, the dramatic form this purge took is completely unexpected.