Is Apartment Collapse Being Pinned on Jang?

Following the failure of the North Korean authorities
to account for the collapse of an apartment block in Pyongyang earlier this
year, a rumor has started to circulate whereby it is said that the incident was primarily the fault of Jang
Song Taek, the executed uncle of Kim Jong Eun. 

A source from the North Korean capital reported to Daily NK
on the 11th, “Following the
collapse, we hear that 7th Bureau [of the Ministry of People’s
Armed Forces] 
officials have been called in and
put under investigation, but there’s still no news of a trial or anyone being
sent off to labor training units or political prison camps because of it.”

However, “Recently people have been saying more and more that ‘this
whole situation is because of dead Jang Song Taek,’” the source added. “They say
that when he was the head of the Party’s Administration Department he stole cement, and that is why this incident took place.”

North Korea has a long history of scapegoating officials for
the failings of the authorities more generally. That’s why, in the source’s estimation, the most likely
explanation is that the authorities manufactured and spread the new rumor. Since a large number of people died in the incident, and it took place in the capital
city, they may feel obliged to provide a scapegoat for the multiple failings it
implies. They therefore opted for Jang, an ideal candidate and one who is already dead.

Therefore, the rumor concerning Jang is reportedly spreading with attendant cynical criticism of the state, with even the dead said to be “unfortunate.”

“In the course of the investigation, they’ll have found that
the head of the 7th Bureau was complicit in it, of course, but so
was everyone down to the rank and file site security guards. They will have
been worrying about how to deal with it,” the source claimed. “So they will have
thought that it’d be best to pin it on the uncle, who was already executed
for something else, than on someone appointed by the Marshal himself.”

It previously emerged that the former head of the 7th
Bureau was from a faction allied with Jang Song Taek, and that he was removed at the time
of Jang’s execution and replaced by someone Kim Jong Eun approved personally.