June 8, 2010 |
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law was elevated Monday to the second-most powerful position in the leadership, a reshuffling of personnel intended to consolidate the ruling family's grip on the country. The promotion of Jang Song Taek, 64, long believed to be one of the most powerful men behind the scenes in North Korea, was announced after an unexpected meeting of the Supreme People's Assembly, presided over by the ailing Kim. A longtime family confidant, 81-year-old Choe Yong Rim, was named prime minister, a largely ceremonial post.
December 13, 2013 |
BEIJING - It is North Korea's version of a youth revolution, and it's making a lot of people nervous. At 30, Kim Jong Un may well be the world's youngest head of state. His brother, Kim Jong Chul, two years older, is best known as an avid Eric Clapton fan but is also said to keep an eye on the leader's security. And the youngest of the Swiss-educated siblings, 26-year-old sister Kim Yo Jong, is seen frequently as an aide-de-camp to the leader. With Thursday's execution of their uncle, Jang Song Taek, and the purge of his cronies, this impatient new generation of the Kim family dynasty appears to be kicking out the adults.
February 15, 2014 |
YANJI, China - She was a North Korean success story. For more than two decades, the woman, now 50, dabbled in various businesses at the border between China and North Korea. She sold rice. She traded foreign currency. She opened a massage parlor in China. She traveled between the two countries with relative ease and was making sufficient money to live comfortably, so much so that she rebuffed invitations to join her sister, who had defected to South Korea. But the woman, who didn't want her name used out of fear for her safety, has changed her thinking about the future since the December execution of Jang Song Taek, the uncle by marriage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Jang, 67, was long viewed as a champion of free enterprise within the nominally communist state, and his purge has rattled many North Koreans.
December 16, 2013 |
When a political crisis hits Pyongyang, the leadership's normal antidote is to hide the real drama in rumors and shadows while assuring the world that outside forces are no match for North Korea's spirit of "single-hearted unity. " But North Korea's real-time media coverage of the vituperative public denunciation and execution of Jang Song Taek, the uncle by marriage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, has exposed deep divisions within the Kim family leadership and has shocked North Koreans and outsiders alike with its suddenness and its brutality.
January 16, 2014 |
As the Lunar New Year and annual U.S.-South Korea war games approach, North Korea's erratic leader has issued both an appeal for a moratorium on "slander" between the Korean governments and a warning that the military exercises could provoke "unimaginable holocaust. " North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last year threatened to wage nuclear war against the South and its U.S. backers over the exercises, sharpening tensions in the region with a declaration that Pyongyang was no longer bound by the 60-year-old truce that ended fighting in the Korean War. Though Kim's government never followed through on its threats to target the U.S. mainland with nuclear missiles, Washington and its East Asian allies remain concerned and vigilant regarding North Korea.
March 14, 2014 |
This week, as the Ides of March approaches - the March 15 anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar, a determined but ultimately fruitless attempt by Roman senators to stop their government from sliding toward dictatorship - the minds of some ancient historians may turn in a seemingly unlikely direction: toward modern North Korea. The dark and menacing regime of Kim Jong Un seems a long way off from the Augustan "Golden Age" of ancient Rome, an era that produced art and literature still admired today.