[imText1]In 1997, Pyongyang was swept by the bloody purge. It was a generational “clean up” which included execution of Suh Kwan Hee, the former secretary of Agriculture Department of the Labor Party, Pi Chang Lin, the former vise-president of Agriculture Science Institute, former secretary general of Gaesung City Party, and Suh Yoon Seok, former secretary general of Pyongyang City Party.
November of the same year, the prevailing rumor was “the National Security Department got rid of the spies hired by Americans” across the nation. The full story is that Suh Kwan Hee opposed to the party’s agriculture policy and spoiled the nation’s entire agriculture and ultimately tried to starve the population to death. They “made” the evidence that Suh Kwan Hee had connections with South Koreans and accused him of being a spy. He was executed openly at the Bus rotary in the Road of Unification in Pyongyang city.
Because of Suh Kwan Hee incident, Kim Man Keum, the former commissioner of the Agriculture Committee, was “re-killed.” Kim Man Keun was the one who guaranteed Suh’s political life. Kim had already died in 1984, whose body was buried at the Cemetery of Patriots, and his remains were taken out of his grave to be gunshot.
1997 was the year three million peopled died of starvation. Dead bodies were lying everywhere that one had to walk over them. For Kim Jong Il, the food crisis was inexcusable unless it could be blamed on someone. For this reason, they made up the “American Spy Incident.” The most common accusation the North Korean government comes up with is either incident of “American spies” or “spies hired by South Korea.” “American Spy Incident.” However, how frequent it may be, once accused there is no way out of that bloody wave of sword.
When Pi Chang Lin was executed, there were nineteen of them accused with him. They were all arrested and executed. The official crime the National Security Department sentenced Pi with was that he was “converted” when he was arrested while he was a North Korean spy in North Korea during the Korean War. The National Security Department publicly announced that Pi Chnag Lin was hired by Americans as a spy with an order to murder Kim Jong Il and got involved in the “Revolutionary Movement” after camouflaged as an escapee.
The other nineteen accused included vice secretary of the Central Party, a number of secretary generals of different province parties, and other figures. With the special order from Kim Jong Il, the political secretary of the National Security Department at the time executed all of them in the firing ground of the National Security Department locate in Pyongyang city.
Kim Jong Il Totalitarian Regime Made a System for Everyone to Accuse Each Other
After a while, Suh Yoon Seok, the secretary general of the Pyongyang City Party at the time was arrested. Suh used to be chubby, so people of Pyongyang city used to call him “Suh Daegam” (call name such as “Don”). He was imprisoned in the Security Department’s detention camp accused of “unclear past.” While the entire region around Pyongyang was in deadly mood, Suh emaciated so much that he was left with only bones and skin.
Secretary general of Pyongyang City Party is a well-respected position. Towards the end of the mass purge, as if worried that execution of Suh Yoon Seok is taking the wave of purge too far, Kim Jong Il called on Suh on day. When Kim Jong Il saw Suh barely alive, got angry at political secretary of the National Security Department and revoked him, “Who are you to kill this many people?” Baek Hak Lim, the political secretary of the National Security Department at the time, was an old man who did not do much more than merely holding the position.
Few days later, Baek Hak Lim was executed, accused of a “anti-party, anti-revolutionary” and Kim Jong Il changed the name of “National Security Department” to “People’s Security Department,” saying that he is sick of hearing about the National Security Department.
Here, we can have a glimpse at the cunning politics played by Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Il proclaimed “I have no responsibility in economics”(Dec, 1996) afraid that he will be blamed for the millions starved to death. He blamed on Suh Kwan Hee and others for holding all the responsibility of the food crisis and made the city of Pyongyang shake in fear of death, then he blamed political secretary of the National Security Department to make sure people do not blame on himself.
People living in that reality could not do much more than just grieve and question, “How can there be so many spies in such a small country? People’s lives are worth only lives of flies.”
In North Korea, you can always become an “American spy” or a “spy hired by South Korea” if you do not obey Kim Jong Il. If you question about Kim Jong Il’s order, you can disappear accused as “anti-revolutionary.” Kim Jong il made a regime where people can only survive when they accuse each other and obey only Kim Jong Il. If you do not follow the system, you cannot survive.
When would South Korean people really get to know about this “fact” about Kim Jong Il?
Han Young Jin, North Korean defector reporter at The DailyNK, defected from Pyongyang in 2002.