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Shaky start to third year of Kim Jong Un era
DECEMBER 16, 2013 01:57  
Tuesday is the second anniversary of Kim Jong Il뭩 death. It also marks the first day of Kim Jong Un뭩 third year since his inauguration as the North Korean leader. The public execution of Jang Song Thaek is a reflection that there was a major disruption in the course of Kim Jong Un뭩 bid to consolidate power to secure three-generation hereditary power succession over the past two years.

We can figure out signs of the North Korean regime뭩 collapse from the ruling on Jang뭩 execution. The ruling includes criticism that (Jang) thought that if livelihoods of the people and soldiers deteriorate further in the future they could join uprising (coup) as well. That is, Jang judged the time when the economy completely fails and the state is on the verge of collapse as the timing for his alleged bid to stage uprising. Given that even the North뭩 No. 2 man predicted a time when the economy fails and the state collapses, the situation in the North has apparently deteriorated more than we estimate.

The three-generation hereditary succession of power that has lasted for 68th year since 1945 is unprecedented in modern history of the world. Until when North Koreans should continue suffering? It would be a natural historical phenomenon that the democratization movement in Northern Europe and revolution in North Africa will flow into the North.

As if to demonstrate that he is safe and sound, Kim Jong Un has conducted public activities. North Korean media reported that Kim visited the People뭩 Army planning unit and Mashikryong ski resort on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Several of the late Jang뭩 confidents make the list of the state funeral organizing committee for Kim Kuk-tae, which was announced on Friday. However, the ramification of Jang뭩 execution will likely be made clearer depending on whether and who among ranking North Korean officials will attend the second anniversary ceremony of Kim Jong Il뭩 death.

Kim Jong Un, who was sworn in as the North Korean leader at the age of 27, has consolidated his power according to the scenario to seize power and under protection by his confidents. The situation will be different from now however. Since Kim Jong Un had no choice but to execute Jang, who was always loyal to Kim Jong Il, whom Kim Jong Un will afford to trust from now on? Having witnessed Kim Jong Un kill Jang, who among the young dictator뭩 aides will be assured of his or her survival? Rather than helping consolidate the North Korean regime, reign of terror could add to the sense of crisis to the North Korean power elite that they could become the dictator뭩 pray eventually. On top of this, if discontent accumulates further among the people and the People뭩 army due to economic collapse, a coup that Jang watched for a chance or sudden change of situation could occur as well.

The direction of the North Korean regime is directly linked to not only the safety of 24 million North Koreans but also peace on the Korean Peninsula. In the wake of the third year since Kim Jong Un뭩 inauguration, which is on shakier ground than ever before since the North뭩 foundation, the South should be highly vigilant on changes in the North Korean regime.

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