As Kim Jong Eun continues to build his leadership, there are indications that purges similar to those which happened under Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il may also happen under the new leader.
According to a North Korean source who spoke with Daily NK on January 25, “The Central Party has been rolling out an ideological campaign since the 15th to ‘decisively destroy the forces who are talking behind the Party’s back’.”
“The Central Party is propagandizing the greatness of Kim Jong Eun through criticism sessions, and coming down hard on anybody who is reported to have said anything hinting at any doubt of his greatness,” the source said, adding, “all cadres are being careful not to get caught out by this, without exception.”
Asked why cadres are being targeted by such an ideological campaign, the source responded “As I understand, there are people within the Central Party who have criticized Kim Jong Eun’s age or asked what he has ever done for the country. Anyone who is found showing the slightest doubt automatically considered to belong to those factions.”
Even in North Korea there have long been doubts about Kim Jong Eun’s past, including his birth, his graduation from Kim Il Sung Military College and time studying a computer major at Kim Il Sung University.
For example, even some cadres wonder whether Kim Jong Eun really wrote a thesis credited to him when he was just 16, entitled ‘The Indelible Achievements of Kim Il Sung’s Masterful Leadership during the Fatherland Liberation War’.
Most reports out of North Korea indicate that the public struggles to credit the history of Kim Jong Eun as purported by North Korean authorities, but less is known about his credibility within the Party itself.
There have been indications that the government has used ideological education to try and stop the spread of public complaints about Kim Jong Eun. According to a source in North Hamgyung Province, in recent times there have been study conferences, lectures and People’s Unit meetings propagandizing Kim Jong Eun held almost every day.
According to this source, at a meeting held on January 21 at the Kim Il Sung Museum of Revolutionary History, agents from the Propaganda Department said, “We need to accept the legacy of the Great General, further accept the Respected Comrade Kim Jong Eun and make our steadfast convictions and intentions known to the world.”
The source also claimed that propaganda officers also made a thinly veiled threat at the meeting, saying “Those who have doubts or suspicions about the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong Eun are in the same boat as those who went against the course of the Party in 1956.”
Said the source, “At the meeting they said very general things like ‘The whole of the military and public need to unite behind the pillars of comrade Kim Jong Eun,’ and ‘Comrade Kim Jong Eun is a great leader who is trusted and followed by the military and the public.’”
“There have been 11 such meetings in January alone, across all levels of business and Union of Democratic Women units,” the source added.
“As officers from the central and provincial arms of the Propaganda Department check who is present at the meetings, members of the UDW aren’t able to skip them,” the source said.
There have been no reports as of yet regarding mass purge operations of any factions within the North Korean leadership. However, since last year there have been purges in regional areas aimed at shoring up discipline.
Kim Il Sung began a number of purges after he seized authority in 1950, under the guise of searching out anti-Party and anti-revolutionary elements. Kim Jong Il was also no stranger to outcasting ‘tangents’ as he called them, including his uncle Kim Young Ju and half-brother Kim Pyeong Il. It remains to be seen who will be the targets of ostracism under Kim Jong Eun, however his half-brother, Kim Jong Nam and his supporters would most likely be near the top of the list.