June 02, 2020

How should we interpret purges in the North Korean secret police?
The accusation that Kim Won Hong committed "human rights abuses" has roots in communist history

The recent news that the chief of North Korean State Security Department, or political secret police, Kim Won Hong, had been purged, surprised very few people. It is one of many high-profile purges that have happened in recent years.

What should draw our attention - and this might have escaped many - are the accusations alleged to have been made against him. Among the typical ones that are notoriously repeated in such instances, such as corruption, or abuse of power, a new one has appeared: he was also discharged for perpetrating “human rights abuses” in his agency.