North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is apparently working on consolidating his power. This past week, news emerged that he was most likely behind the sacking of his powerful uncle, Jang Song Thaek, from his dual posts as vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission and as a department head of the ruling Workers’ Party.
According to Reuters reporters Jack Kim and Ju-Min Park
Those who watch the North’s power structure say Jang’s removal would not have been possible without the approval of the third Kim to rule in the family dynasty. The move is likely to tip the balance in favor of another close aide – the top political operative for the army, which could mean a symbolic victory for the 1.2-million-strong military. Choe Ryong Hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army, has been the most prominent figure to accompany Kim at public events and is a reminder of the state’s political roots in military power.
Reuters said there was no immediate news on Jang’s fate, but two close aides to Jang were publicly executed for corruption.
There’s no doubt Kim the youngest is leaning towards ensuring the military maintains its prominence in North Korean political structure. For Kim Jong Un to be a viable leader, he must keep the military in his support circle. What this means for the United States is yet to be seen, but you can be assured that as America presses North Korea on their nuclear program, this move makes the Stalinist regime an even greater wild card. You have to wonder how much of this has the blessing of China, North Korea’s best Asian ally.
At a time when Vice President Joe Biden is in the Pacific Rim visiting American allies to reassure them of support, this has to be of concern, especially as China extends its hegemonic dominance into claimed Japanese territory, the Senkaku Islands. We may have pivoted away from the Middle East, per Obama, to the Pacific, but both regions are being destabilized by rogue actors.
We are surrounded by a Machiavellian world of despotic strong men. Now is not the time or place for a naïve community organizer to be the President of these United States. But that’s unfortunately what we’re stuck with.