PYONGYANG, North Korea — Kim Jong-un—the authoritarian ruler of North Korea—had his uncle executed in December due to rumors that he was a traitor. Once considered one of Jong-un’s top advisors, Jang Song-Thaek was killed by a firing squad and, according to some reports, fed to a pack of starving dogs.
Kim proceeded to round up all of his uncle’s direct relatives and have them executed too.
So far, it has been estimated that seven members of Jang’s family have been killed, including Kim’s aunt, her husband, Jang’s nephew and his two sons. Jong-Un also had the children and grandchildren of Jang’s brothers killed.
Jang was arrested on charges of organizing a military coup against Kim’s regime.
“The executions of Jang’s relatives mean that no traces of him should be left,” a source states. “The purge of the Jang Song-Thaek people is under way on an extensive scale from relatives and low-level officials.”
Another source claims, “Some relatives were shot to death by pistol in front of other people if they resisted while being dragged out of their apartment homes.”
It didn’t matter if they were women, children or high-ranking officials: none were spared. There is a constant and imminent danger in being related to Kim Jong-Un.
Unlike family members of other dictators, relatives of Jong-un do not enjoy lavish parties or celebrity-status, but rather live in fear for their lives. Kim unflinchingly murders his own family members at the slightest provocation. While little is known about the lives of Jong-un and his family, the intrafamily violence is well-documented.
A culture of guilt-by-association has been cultivated by Kim’s regime and, as demonstrated by the purge of Jang and his family, that culture extends to his own kin.
Further complicating this family dynamic is the fact that Kim Jong-un seems to be slowly killing anybody linked to the reign of his father, Kim Jong-il. Many of the top officials in Kim Jong-il’s regime assisted Kim Jong-un after his father’s death in 2011. However, Kim has already demoted, exiled or executed most of them. Even Five out of seven pallbearers for his father’s funeral have been ousted—either executed or fired. Kim appears to be on a crusade to eliminate any influence his father still hold in North Korea.
According to an unnamed North Korean government official, Kim is trying to, “erase all traces of his father’s rule,” in an attempt to fully solidify his own.
Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s heir despite being the youngest son, was raised to be a dictator. His father saw some of his own qualities in Jong-un, and decided to groom him to become North Korea’s next ruler. This upbringing created a tyrant determined to amass power at the expense of his people and family.
At age 31, Kim Jong-un only has an infant daughter. If and when Kim has a son, it seems likely that he will be raised to become the next iron-fisted ruler of North Korea.
All of this political and family conflict in North Korea has taken place with the backdrop of a country experiencing extreme poverty. Nearly all of North Korea’s 24.7 million citizens live in abject poverty.
North Korea is in constant food shortage and only the elite have access to electricity.
Most jobs are unpaid, and even those who earn a paycheck generally earn under $2,000 a year. Food and clothing are strictly rationed by the government.
To make matters worse for North Koreans, their leader is in the midst of a deadly purge against anyone who threatens his rule. Even Kim Jong-un’s own family isn’t safe.
– Sam Hillestad