Jang’s Economic Policy Hangover

Jang Sung Taek’s dismissal was not in response to the “anti-Party” activities of executed subordinates in the Administrative Department of the Party; rather, it was because he clashed with Kim Jong Eun and Choi Ryong Hae over the course of economic development.

This is the claim of some Daily NK sources, who assert that Jang was opposed to limited development as advocated by Kim and Choi, preferring a more expansive Chinese-style push for economic reform.

A source close to the issue informed Daily NK on the 4th, “The fall of Jang Sung Taek developed out of conflict in his relations with Kim Jong Eun. It was related to the economic development they’ve been pushing; Jang’s view was at odds with Choi Ryong Hae and the hardliners, including Kim Jong Eun, and so in the end this happened.”

“Jang Sung Taek had been pushing for Chinese-style ‘reform and opening,’ not a partial opening, but Kim Jong Eun and the core hardliners wanted to limit it. In other words, they wanted ‘mosquito net’ opening, and so this conflict erupted,” the source went on to assert. “What started with conflict between the two ended in Jang’s downfall.”

“When Jang went to Beijing last year, he told them of his own desire for reform and opening with China. In doing so, he represented North Korea’s stance without any regard for Kim Jong Eun’s view at all. Overstepping the mark like that soon became a problem,” the source said. “It was from that moment that Choi Ryong Hae and the military hardliners started to criticize Jang.”

Speaking about the incendiary claim, one high-level defector told Daily NK, “So Jang Sung Taek wanted to pursue a Chinese-style reform and opening while enhancing relations with China, but Kim Jong Eun and Choi Ryong Hae did not. Kim and Choi probably thought that doing that would destroy [North Korean] socialism, and had no option but to purge Jang in order to open the way for their vision of a limited opening.”

“The North Korean people see Jang as this economically savvy manager who knows a lot about China,” the defector added. “For Kim Jong Eun, the fact that Jang is viewed this way by the people must have been fairly unpleasant. Choi picked this up, then, and pushed Kim Jong Eun to have him removed.”

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