N. Korea's Kim hails execution of powerful uncle

AFP , Wednesday 1 Jan 2014

North Korea
People watch a TV news program showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014 (Photo: AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Wednesday hailed the recent execution of his powerful uncle Jang Song-Thaek, saying it had helped cement unity among his people.

Kim, in his New Year message broadcast on state TV, described the purge of a "faction" within the party as a "resolute action," in his first public remarks about Jang since his shock execution on December 12.

"Our party took a resolute action to remove... scum elements within the party last year," Kim said, repeating the party's earlier accusation against Jang of trying to build his own powerbase.

"Our party's timely, accurate decision to purge the anti-party, anti-revolutionary elements helped greatly cement unity of the party and the revolution and strengthened our solidarity by 100 times," he said.

Jang, once the communist country's unofficial number two and Kim's political mentor, was executed on a range of charges including plotting a coup and corruption.

The 67-year-old played a key role in cementing the leadership of the inexperienced Kim, who took power after the death of his father and long-time ruler, Kim Jong-Il, in December 2011.

But Jang's growing political power and influence drew resentment from his nephew barely half of his age, analysts said.

Jang's purge also stemmed from political battles among Pyongyang officials to control the country's lucrative coal trade business once dominated by Jang, Seoul's spy chief said last week.

The purge was staged in an extraordinarily public and brutal fashion, while Jang was criticised in a party statement as "human scum" and a drug-addicted womaniser who pocketed millions of dollars of state money to support his decadent lifestyle.

Kim Jong-Un stressed on Wednesday that the latest purge was proof that the ruling communist party was dedicated to serve the public, adding it strengthened the party.

"The latest purge proved that the party... would further dedicate itself to fulfil the honourable mission to continue to serve the public," he said.

Jang's execution -- the biggest political upheaval since Jong-Un took power -- raised questions over potential instability within the impoverished but nuclear-armed state.

Seoul's defence chief and analysts said the isolated state could stage military provocations early this year to divert public attention and rally domestic unity.

Kim Jong-Un stepped up hostile rhetoric in the Wednesday's speech, saying that the Korean peninsula would be engulfed by "massive nuclear disaster" if war breaks out there again. He also warned that the US would not be safe in the event of a conflict.

"If the war breaks out again in this land, it will bring about a massive nuclear disaster and the US will also never be safe," Kim said.

"We are faced with a dangerous situation in which a small, accidental military clash can lead to an all-out war," he said.

Kim added he would not beg for peace and vowed to protect the impoverished but nuclear-armed North with strong self-defence measures against enemies.

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