7月 10


CHANG Song-taek mentioned that North Korea could dismantle the nuclear development depending on the situation and he would not rule out the possibility of replacing KIM Jong-eun with KIM Jong-nam if necessary.

Written by:Professor Ri So-tetsu, Ryukoku University Japan

KIM Jong-il fortified a castle for his son, but one of its gatekeepers was disgraced soon after the power succession. In July 2012, LEE Yong-ho, General Chief of Staff of the People’s Armed Forces was arrested on charges of forming a factional clique as well as corruption. He was taking bribe from a narcobuck. The real reason that infuriated KIM Jong-eun was his objection to the policy of transferring the foreign currency earnings from the military to the cabinet. CHANG Song-taek, KIM Jong-eun’s uncle and chief of the Administrative Department of the KWP Central Committee strongly pushed this policy but LEE Yong-ho and the former minister of People’s Armed Forces KIM Yong-chun protested against the policy to maintain their vested interests. LEE Yong-ho ridiculed CHANG Song-taek saying, “You have the rank of general without any military experience. You are trying to take our important military financial resource. My four stars are quite different from your sham stars.”
After LEE Yong-ho was dismissed, CHANG Song-taek started to adopt economic improvement measures such as “The 6.28 Act” which allowed enterprises and farmers to freely utilize a part of their products as well as legalizing the buying and selling of residential housing to revitalize the flow of foreign currency earned by civilians. In August 2012, he visited China leading a delegation of more than 50 economic experts. It was to participate in a conference to discuss the joint development of a special economic zone in North Korea, but the real purpose of his visit was to request for an emergency loan of $1 billion and the expansion of China’s investment. The Chinese government showed maximum hospitality and allowed him to stay in Room 18 of the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse where KIM Il-sung and KIM Jong-il had stayed before. CHANG had a private meeting with President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. At their August 17 meeting, Wen told CHANG that he would reserve the decision for the loan until the North Korean nuclear issue is settled and said that China needed a new law to justify the investment.
At the secret meeting with Hu Jintao for more than one hour, the interpreter was the only other person present in the room. CHANG Song-taek mentioned that North Korea could dismantle the nuclear development depending on the situation and he would not rule out the possibility of replacing KIM Jong-eun with KIM Jong-nam if necessary. CHANG’s statements were later publicized by Hong Kong media as “Zhou Yongkang, a member of politburo presidium of the Chinese Communist Party.” For leaking the details of Hu-Chang secret meeting to North Korea, he was punished by a life sentence for unauthorized release of secret information.” CHANG’s statements were serious enough to irritate KIM Jong-eun. A senior officer of the General Guard Bureau who knew about this story said that KIM Jong-eun terminated any discussion with uncle CHANG from autumn 2012.  
As if nothing had happened, North Korea launched a long range guided missile in December 2012 and conducted the 3rd nuclear test on February 12 2013. KIM Jong-eun said, “Going nuclear is our only way to survive and preserve the nation.” The young leader spurned CHANG Song-taek’s apprehension that it would antagonize China. A decisive incident had occurred in June 2013 that destroyed the rapport between uncle and nephew. Reading a report submitted by the Secretariat Office, KIM Jong-eun noticed that his exclusive ruler’s fund had been depleted. He asked one staff officer, “What’s happening? Did the same thing occur during the old man’s life?” The officer told him, “The Dear Leader kept all his secret funds in Room 39 and used the money as necessary for his revolutionary works, but now the Administrative Department of the party is controlling and using the funds.” CHANG Song-taek transferred the function of the 54th Department from the military to his Administrative Department of the party. The 54th Department was gaining large profits by exporting high quality coal to China. He did not send the money to Room 39, but deposited it in the accounts of subordinate companies of the Administrative Department.  
Upon learning about this, KIM Jong-eun became furious and ordered someone to investigate the case. A team of the General Guard Bureau went to the 54th Department to take over the secret fund, but an officer in charge said, “We cannot do anything without the authorization of Comrade Number One who is Chief of the Administrative Department.” This of course was CHANG Song-taek. In North Korea, “Number One” was a pseudonym of the Supreme Leader and nobody else could use it other than KIM Jong-eun. It indicated that a powerful clique was emerging comparable to KIM Jong-eun. It was an obvious challenge to the authority of KIM Jong-eun that all party members were required to protect at the risk of their lives the 10 principles of the party charter to uphold the monolithic leadership. The 10 principles were revised by the Organization Guidance Department by adding a clause prohibiting the formation of any type of factional clique and adoration of any cadre personnel. Some mainstay cadre officers of the Organization Guidance Department had been watching and worrying about CHANG’s overbearing behavior under the cloak of the “tiger’s uncle.” In September 2013 with KIM Jong-eun’s authorization, a special investigation team was organized with core cadre officials of the Organization Guidance Department, National Security Protection Department, General Guard Command, and Prosecutors Office to probe into CHANG’s malfeasance.    
The Organization Guidance Department had already been conducting a secret investigation since March 2013 on LEE Yong-ha and CHANG Su-gil (1st deputy director and deputy director of the Administrative Department) who were CHANG Song-taek’s right-hand men. The investigation concluded that their definite violations of party discipline and they were arrested in November 2013. They could not endure the torture confessed CHANG Song-taek’s culpability, and they were subsequently executed. CHANG Song-taek was immediately put under house arrest and then was taken to an execution site to see how cruelly a victim was killed by machinegun fire. On December 8 2013, he was taken to the expanded Politburo meeting of the party convened by KIM Jong-eun. His former comrades CHO Yon-jun (1st deputy director of the Organization Guidance Department), Prime Minister PAK Bong-ju (CHANG picked him as prime minister), and Vice Prime Minister KANG Sok-ju (close friend) started in turn to incriminate him. While hearing their incisive criticism, CHANG was trembling and tore his notebook with his ball-point pen. At a special military court four days later, he was sentenced to death.   
He was executed that very day. The shower of machinegun fire exterminated his body and a flamethrower incinerated the torn flesh. He was killed in a brutal fashion because KIM Jong-eun ordered not to leave any piece of his remains. Before he was executed, CHANG Song-taek wanted to see his wife even for a moment, but he was not allowed to see her. At that time, KIM Kyong-hui (KIM Jong-eun’s aunt) was the party secretary in charge of organizations. If she really wanted to spare her husband’s life, she was in a right position, but nothing occurred. In the course of the three generation power succession, the existence of any strongman other than the supreme leader was not tolerated. Perhaps it was KIM Jong-eun’s unavoidable fate to eliminate even his uncle and not to leave any piece of remains whom his father trusted and asked to protect the young leader.  

About the Author
Ri Sotetsu is professor of sociology at Ryukoku University, Kyoto; his specialty is modern history of East Asia and media history. The son of ethnic Koreans residing in Heilongjiang province, he was born in 1959 and educated in China. He lived in China and worked as a journalist for a time before going to Japan, where he earned a doctorate(Ph.D.) degree in journalism at Sophia University. He is a Japanese citizen. In 1998 he was appointed assistant professor at Ryukoku University and became professor in 2005. He is a prolific writer of articles and books studying the history of journalism in the former Manchuria and in Japanese-occupied Korea and analyzing current affairs in North and South Korea. Among his major works (all in Japanese) are: Kim Jong-Il to Kim Jong-Eun no shotai (On the Identity of Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Eun; Bungei Shunju), Park Geun-hye no chosen: Mukuge no hana ga saku toki (Park Geun-hye’s Challenge: When the Hibiscus Blooms; Chuo Koron Shinsha), and Higashi-Ajia no aidentetei: Ni-Chu-Kan wa koko ga chigau (Identity in East Asia: Here Is How Japan, China, and Korea Differ; Gaifusha).

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