The violent and unstable North Korean dictator may be so insane that his reign as supreme leader may soon come to an end.
This week we are taking a break from articles focused on terrorism to discuss the ever-growing threat of North Korea. New intelligence has emerged with the recent defection of a high level North Korean diplomat.
Thae Yong Ho, the most high profile North Korean defector in over twenty years, is offering a rare insight into the secretive and aggressive dictator. Though not directly involved in North Korea’s weapons program, Thae believes his country “has reached a very significant level of nuclear development.”
According to Thae, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is “desperate in maintaining his rule by relying on his [development of] nuclear weapons and ICBM.” Developing an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) — a long range rocket that in theory would be capable of hitting the U.S., is among the chief priorities of the regime.
Thae is doubtful diplomatic solutions will be effective, sighting a few examples:
- His recent assassination of his half brother, Kim Jong-Nam, at an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is further evidence of the lengths the dictator is willing to go to in order to remain in power.*
- According to Thae, Kim is obsessed with obtaining nukes because he saw what happened to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, both of whom abandoned their countries’ weapons of mass destruction programs and then were overthrown by Western-backed forces.
Many analysts agree that Kim sees a nuclear weapon — and the retaliatory threat it poses — as an insurance policy against a similar strategy being pursued against him. “That’s why Kim Jong Un strongly believes that only a nuclear weapon can guarantee his rule,” Thae said.
The former diplomat says other nations and world leaders need only look to Kim’s past actions to understand the measures he is willing to take to ensure he remains in power. The young leader has reportedly been responsible for purges and executions of many top officials, including members of his own family.” In addition to killing his half brother, state media confirmed in 2012 the execution of Kim’s uncle, Jang Song Thank, widely considered the country’s second most powerful leader.
Late last year, North Korea’s vice premier for education was executed for not keeping his posture upright at a public event. And as recently as February 27, 2017 five senior security officials were accused of making false reports that “enraged” the leader, who then had the five men killed with anti-aircraft guns.
In post-defection interviews, Thae stressed the unrelenting, violent nature of Kim, pointing out how little he values the lives of those around him, let alone those he has grown up viewing as enemies. The ballistic missile tests, along with the assassination of his brother have alerted the international community to Kim’s stepped up aggression, though the people who surround him have long been aware of his true nature.
In fact, many foreign experts were surprised by the brazen tactics used in the recent assassination of his brother. The toxin used to kill Kim Jong Nam, a nerve agent known as VX, is a banned weapon of mass destruction. The fact that this took place outside North Korea, at an international airport in the midst of thousands of other travelers is unprecedented and has sent a clear message to the world.
Thae asserts that the South Korean Foreign Minister, Yun Byung-se, speaking to the UN’s Conference on Disarmament regarding Kim Jong Un is correct in his assessment: “Namely this impulsive, unpredictable, trigger-happy and brutal regime is ready and willing to strike anyone, anytime, anywhere.”
Asked what prospects remain, if diplomacy is doomed to fail, Thea says, “Kim Jong Un is a man who can do anything beyond the normal imagination” and that “the final and the real solution to the North Korean nuclear issue is to eliminate Kim Jong Un from the post.”
*Kim Jong Nam, formerly a high ranking member of Ministry of People’s Security, worked to bring restricted internet access to the country in the 1990s. As Jong Nam was Jong-il’s oldest son, he was considered the favorite to take over for the leader from 1994 to 2001. But between 2000-2001, Jong-Nam sought market reform and fell out of favor with his father.
Kim Jong Nam was not known to be seeking political power; he was best known for his penchants for drinking, gambling and expensive restaurants. But his position as eldest son of the family that has ruled North Korea since it was founded could have made him appear to be a danger.
In recent years the ‘playboy’ had reportedly begun to be ‘groomed’ by China as a potential alternative leader to the controversial Jong Un.