Chang Song-Thaek, Down For the Count?

Before it was officially affirmed, this was the best piece that proposed good reasons as why Chang, Song-Thaek might be removed from official positions:
A person under Chang’s faction, who handles slush funds for the Kim Family, allegedly defected. The following analysis [in Korean with a slight GyeongSang dialect] of Chang’s removal from all official positions, tells some possibilities of what this might all mean for the Kim regime, and maybe why the “Brilliant leader” might be doing this:

Nothing conclusive.

Here are images of his capture:

Charged with “actions against the party, and the revolution”

In the above clip, they were referring to a public North Korean broadcast mentioning this issue:

Chang, So’ng-thaek was actually publicly named.

According to Chinese media…

Nah… Not authoritative enough…

There are claims that Chang never thought highly of Kim, Jong-un. Maybe this also has something to do with the fact that Chang helped raise Kim, Jong-un’s older brother, Kim, Jong-Nam, and even before Kim, Jong-Nam fell out of favor, even supported him to succeed the throne.

Chang is believed to have better relations with China, as he made a visit to BeiJing last August, yet even Kim, Jong-un himself hasn’t been there. Even when his father, Kim, Jong-il succeeded HIS father, Kim, Il-Sung, a confirmation trip to China was a must. Chinese media portrays this incident as a sign that it might be a bad sign for Sino-DPRK relations.

Other videos surrounding this issue:

A good comment on Sino-DPRK relations that may come about…

“China doesn’t have many connections with [North Korea] at the top level to begin with,” said Roger Cavazos, a North Korea specialist at the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability. “Jang’s purge means that China lost one of the few conduits they had.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters on Tuesday that Beijing views Jang’s ouster as a domestic issue, but added: “We hope North Korea can maintain national stability.”

And here’s a more extensive list of things Chang has been accused of:

“Gnawing at the unity and cohesion of the party and disturbing the work for establishing the party unitary leadership system and perpetrated such ant-state, unpopular crimes as doing enormous harm to the efforts to build a thriving nation and improve the standard of people’s living.

“Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader but was engrossed in such factional acts as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scene.”


“Affected by the capitalist way of living, Jang committed irregularities and corruption and led a dissolute and depraved life.

“By abusing his power, he was engrossed in irregularities and corruption, had improper relations with several women and was wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants.

“Ideologically sick and extremely idle and easy-going, he used drugs and squandered foreign currency at casinos while he was receiving medical treatment in a foreign country under the care of the party.”

The article goes on to say that he may still have a chance, being that this isn’t the first time he’s ever been ousted, and he’s managed to come back before. This is doubtful though, because of the publicity this whole thing has gotten, it’s a huge deal. The article also pointed out that he’s already 67, in a country where the average life expectancy of a man is 65, according to World Health Organization estimates, even if he does come back, it won’t be for very long.

UPDATE: December 12,2013

Chang was executed on the spot.
No indication that South Korean Intelligence authorities received a high-profile defector?


Here’s excellent analysis by Mr. Andrei Lankov on the subject:
Mr. Andrei Lankov puts it aptly, as to how this may shape the message about the royal Kim family:

Furthermore, these actions broke a very big part of the North Korean identity: the unity myth. For decades North Koreans were supposed to believe that their society is unique in being absolutely and completely unified around their great leader, around the current great leader. So the assumption was there are no bad people at the top, and there is an unbreakable unity at the top. Finally, Jang Song Thaek is a member of the Kim family, through marriage but still. It means that Kim Il Sung, the father of the nation, married his daughter, to a traitor. What does that tell about him? How can a genius of leadership be so easily deceived? He married his daughter to a traitor. Isn’t that strange? Doesn’t that mean that Kim Il Sung’s judgement of people was absolutely unique? Doesn’t that mean that his judgement of policy wasn’t unique too? How many people are going to start asking these questions very quietly today?

The way he describes the whole ordeal, it’s very simple. Chang, Sung-Thaek, and Ri Yong-Ho were appointed to assist the young Kim by the late Kim, Jong-Il. Well, when old people get in the way, they get sacked. I’m sure this is the case. Of course as always with North Korea, everyone is still wondering, “Why now?”

This is where Mr. Haggard brings our attention to the following links…

Alexandre Mansourov at 38North provides an excellent recap of Jang’s gradual marginalization and an inventory of the dominant theories, of which there are four: Jang’s attempt to form a center of power independent of Kim Jong Un; a power struggle between Jang and Choe Ryong Hae and their proxies within the regime (detailed by New Focus International); policy disagreements over nuclear, foreign and/or economic policy; and a purely familial tussle in which Kim Kyong Hui—Jang’s wife and Kim Jong Un’s uncle—may have played a role. In a new revelation on the family front, the Chosun Ilbo reports intelligence (caveat emptor!) that Kim Jong-chol, Kim Jong Un’s older brother, “personally led” a team of soldiers protecting Kim Jong-un in the arrest of Jang and that he was also behind the executions of Jang’s close confidants Ri Yong-ha and Jang Soo-kil.

Chinese media is citing South Korean media, saying that the TWO men that left North Korea for China are (Ro, Du-Chol), and (Ri, Yong-Mu), both are deputy ministers, and considered to be in Chang’s faction.

The article above states that Ro’s birthday and birth place as October 1950, South Hamkyong Province, Hamheung City, HeungDok District. While the wiki article omits Ro’s birthplace, it states his birth year at 1944. Another issue of interest, is that even though South Korean media is being cited on this, according to this website, the “朝鮮研究” (“North Korea Research”)…
pictures possibly identifying the two deputy ministers that “may or may not” have fled.

UPDATE: December 14, 2013

…Second, the fact that Kim authorized capital punishment for his aunt’s husband suggests that Kim Kyong Hui probably has lost all her political influence and personal standing with her nephew and his family….

Not sure if Kim, Kyong-Hui really lost much stature in the family. Some have posited that she gave the OK on this, or at least, since her health is so weak, she just didn’t have the will to stop something like this. I can’t find the exact footage clips, but some South Korean media outlets have shown video footage, where both Chang, Sung-Thaek and Kim, Kyong-Hui were far apart from each other during their inspections with Kim, Jong-un, implying that they already had something go wrong with their marriage. Can’t really say.

Kim, Kyong-hui was not found to be overlooking her husband’s trial.

백학순 gives a good suggestion as to the timing of this event:

First, by mounting this brutal show in such a blitzkrieg fashion, Kim Jong Un appears to have sought a swift wrap-up of this tragedy before the start of the commemoration period of the second anniversary of his father’s death. Prolonging a strained mood or atmosphere like this would not bring about any positive gains for Kim.

Regarding the accusations that 로두철 had escaped to China, and is under Chinese protection… Well, he’s in North Korea:

Also of interest is how North Korean news coverage even used the fact that outsiders had called Chang a reformist, against him:

More about what he was charged with can be found here:

Meanwhile, life for the average North Korean continues as usual:

Oh yes! To pile onto the multitude of reasons as to why he’s being purged NOW, Mr. Cathcart found a good one:

Although, sadly, this also coincides with the passing away of 김국태 (Kim, Gook-Tae):

Here is a list of particpants [in Chinese]:

UPDATE: December 15, 2013
The AP has taken a lot of flack from everybody, for “merely being another KCTV mouthpiece”. However, no one else has a scoop on the interview with the Director of the Economic Development Committee, 윤영석 (Yoon, Yung-Suk), who states that the plans the DPRK has set economically will not change:
[following links and clip in Korean]

US Secretary of State John Kerry, describes Chang’s purge is “reckless, ruthless”. Ruthless? Yeah, reckless? I beg to differ. North Korea makes calculations for a very dialectal problem, and even if they make some mistakes, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a specific logic around it.

Some people are already making guesses as to who will take over Chang’s old responsibilities:

Maybe his wife. If not her, my guess is responsibilities for different positions, and responsibility reassignments will commence, to prevent another mass of power in a single position or person (aside from Kim, JongUn himself).

UPDATE: December 22, 2013
Here’s a very important post by New Focus International, which describes the mystery of the role the Politburo had in the decision against Chang:
It asks some very good questions about the assembly of the members, why Kim, Jong-un was up north in SamJiYon and not in PyongYang. Very good read.

UPDATE: December 24, 2013
On the day of Kim, Jong-Suk‘s birthday, I found this piece that might reveal Inspector O’s thoughts on the Chang execution:


13=阝12=口 J=丁 (阿)
L=氵 Z=工 (江)
–1312JLZ (阿江)
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