North Korea’s top officials have been warned against forming cliques — a move that has left high-ranking officials worried about a possible purge against them by leader Kim Jong Un, according to a recent report by Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Korean Service.
Kim’s directive warns provincial and court officials to not form private alliances for economic or political interests, an official of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK) told RFA, which is a nonprofit international broadcasting agency of the U.S. government. The leader also cautioned officials who “stick together and speak in whispers” from setting up “little kingdoms,” in order to bring subordinates in line with their objectives, the source said.
On Dec. 9, Ryanggang province’s chairman of WPK personally delivered the message to the officials, indicating its importance, the party source told RFA.
“The people who deliver Kim Jong Un’s directives are usually vice ministers from the research office of the [local] Department of Propaganda,” the source reportedly said. “Since it is very rare for the chairman of the provincial ruling party council to deliver a message in person, this means the matter is highly important.”
The same message was addressed mainly to civilian officials, but also to senior military commanders in Chagang province, a source with ties to the military told RFA. Both Ryanggang and Chagang are neighboring provinces in the northern part of the country bordering China.
“The commanders are now very afraid that this directive may be a warning of a coming purge,” the source told the broadcasting agency, adding that military officials were also concerned over the absence of high-ranking officers during Kim’s visit to Samjiyon county near Mt. Paektu in Ryanggang last month.
Even though the directive was primarily addressed to civilian officials at the local level and not the military authorities, the source told RFA that “this could easily be a trick.”
“Kim could carry out a purge by mobilizing his Guard Command in a surprise attack while the military’s leaders are feeling at ease,” the source said, adding: “Honestly, there is no place on Earth where corruption is worse than in North Korea’s military. And the fact that Kim Jong Un did not directly mention this is making the commanders even more anxious and afraid.”
North Korea, one of the world’s most isolated nations, has witnessed several high-level purges under the young leader’s rule after he assumed power in 2011 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. However, several reports of purges and executions in the country have later proved inaccurate.
The country observed the fifth death anniversary of Kim Jong Il on Saturday, who died Dec. 17, 2011.