‘Massive purge’ less likely to follow—ROK expert

Jung Chang-hyun (photo: Tongil News)

Though experts divide on what will follow Jang Song Thaek’s demise, one thing seems to be sure among them:  “a massive, bloody purging of Jang Song Thaek’s people,” as Sunny Lee suggests. For such a tightly closed, exclusive country, we can’t never be sure of anything about it and a contrarian is whom we should listen to when opinions seems to lack diversity.

Dr. Jung Chang-hyun, adjunct professor at Kookmin University, is one of few whom I trust as a reliable source on North Korea. He worked as a NK specialist journalist at JoongAng Ilbo for a decade and is one of the most well-connected NK experts. Jung told me that something like a massive purge is less likely to follow and that there is no such thing like ‘Jang Song Thaek’s men.’

Jung Chang-hyun (photo: Tongil News)
Jung Chang-hyun (photo: Tongil News)

“Few would follow Jang’s path from those who attended to the expanded meeting (확대회의) of the KWP Politburo in question, I suppose. However, those who are related to a working-level group (실무반) which Jang’s trial record refers to would be dealt with soon but I don’t think there are not many left by now since most of them would have already followed the paths of Ri Yong Ha and Jang Soo Kil—Jang’s top aides.

“Edification sessions would be continued in following months and they will lead to solidify the Kim Jong Un-only system. Through this way, generational shift in North Korea will take place naturally.”

Jung didn’t agree with that massive purge of Jang’s men is going to take place soon.

“Media outlets are fond of using terms like ‘Jang Song Thaek line’, ‘Jang’s men (followers)’ but in North Korea, central party members above section chief (과장) level seldom build a personal connection with a certain individual. Even in his trial records, officials within the party administration department alone were intensively mentioned. Officials outside the part administration were not mentioned much.”

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