Following the execution of Jang Song Taek for allegedly plotting to overthrow the North Korean state, Daily NK has learned that a substantial number of the former elite official’s blood relatives are being transferred to political prison camps.
“At around 10PM on the night of the 13th, the day after Jang was executed, armed men from the Ministry of State Security arrived unannounced in the Pyongchon area of Pyongyang where a lot of his relatives lived,” a source from the North Korean capital reported to Daily NK on the 20th. “They took away a few hundred people. As far as I know they were taken off to political prison camp.”
“It wasn't just his close relatives who were taken away, but distant relatives too like the relatives of his father,” he added. “In these circumstances even his relatives outside Pyongyang aren’t safe.”
According to the source, people were already astonished by the news of Jang’s execution, but now they are even more fearful as local households have started disappeared overnight. Because the crimes that Jang is officially said to have committed are extremely serious felonies, some expect his family to be executed, while others presume they will be permanently incarcerated.
The source also reported that once news of Jang’s arrest by the secret police got around, a portion of those people who were worried that their links to him might lead to punishment even volunteered to take part in “revolutionization” by laboring on farms or in mines.
“It seems like they are trying to take self-imposed punishment in order to evade a more stringent one, but they'll find it difficult to escape that way. Jang’s crimes are ‘anti-Party, counter-revolutionary factionalism,’ so of course they will have to say that his family challenged the system. For this reason, severe punishment awaits.”
Looking at the background to the latest step in the eradication of Jang Song Taek from North Korean officialdom, the source said that the fundamental purpose is to quash all potential for internal unrest. “In reality there are quite a few people who have doubts about Jang Song Taek’s alleged crimes,” he said. “They know that the authorities can find a pretext for anything if they really want to, so they are being very careful not to draw attention to themselves.”
“The Upper [the authorities] have been telling us that it's fine to continue as normal, and there has been no real worsening of everyday restrictions, for example on market activity," he concluded. However, "Many people have no idea what could happen to them next. Actually, the number of people coming to trade in the markets is slowly decreasing.”