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Kim Jong-il purged more officials in early years than son: researcher

All Headlines 17:13 February 22, 2017

SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is notorious for his reign of terror, but his late father Kim Jong-il purged more people in his early years in power than the incumbent ruler, a researcher here said Wednesday.

"Many experts are claiming that more ranking North Korean officials are being purged at the whim of Kim Jong-un compared to Kim Jong-il's early days, but this is not true," Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, said in a presentation at a seminar focused on the characteristics of the Kim Jong-un regime.

He said in the five years since Kim Jong-un took power in December 2011, about 140 officials have reportedly been purged, while as many as 2,000 officials were ousted in the three years following Kim Jong-il assuming complete control of the country in October 1997.

After taking control of the country, the late leader led massive background investigations into officials, from which many were charged with treason, including Mun Song-sul, a secretary in the ruling party's central committee.

Cheong cited this event as one of the key factors in the higher number of purges under the previous leader.

The researcher also said that a reign of terror alone could not fully account for the characteristics of the current Kim Jong-un regime because his ruling style is now displaying many different aspects.

The leader is friendly to the public as his grandfather and North Korean founder Kim Il-sung was, but on the other hand, he terrorizes officials and orders unconditional obedience from all North Koreans, Cheong stressed.

"Following the death of Ki Jong-il, many experts in South Korea and abroad predicted the Kim Jong-un regime would not last long, but Kim has succeeded in solidifying his position as the highest leader in and outside of the country," according to Cheong.

pbr@yna.co.kr
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