Night Watch

North Korea: The Korean Central Broadcasting Station aired a large assembly of men from the Korean People's Army (KPA) who gathered for the purpose of pledging their loyalty to Kim Jong Un on 16 December. The meeting was held outdoors on the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang. Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae, the Chief of the General Political Department led the pledge.

The announcer said that officers and men of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Anti-Air Force of the KPA were represented.

Vice Marshal Choe said that "we will find, to the end, any one of those who walk a different path without upholding the supreme commander comrade's idea and intent and those who attempt to castigate the supreme commander comrade's leadership, wherever they are in hiding, and burn them up even without leaving their ashes."

He also said that "we will intensely wage the ideological battle to crush the heterogeneous and decadent bourgeois idea and culture" with the strength of the military-first culture in order to "make only the blood of chuch'e, the military-first-type blood, flows in the entire army."

Finally, Choe said, "Keeping in mind that (the enemies) wage war without propagandizing it, we will always maintain a highly agitated state, strike the entire base of aggression if the enemies dare to make a clumsy fire, and accomplish the historic cause of the fatherland's reunification without fail."

Comment: North Korea has a new young leader. The Chief of the General Political Department -- the top Party commissar -- and other senior staff are new too. Nevertheless, the scenario is identical to that of Kim Chong-il's consolidation of power. The Army is in the control of the leader again and pledges itself to conduct more purges.

Within two months of the death of Kim Il-sung, Kim Chong-il nearly was assassinated. There were many subsequent uprisings against Kim Chong-il, but the most sensational was that by the VI Army Corps in North Hamgyong Province in northeastern North Korea.

The entire leadership of that corps rebelled against the great leader in April 1995. The coup was thwarted when it attempted to march on Pyongyang from the east coast. The corps commander betrayed the coup. Forty officers were killed and 300 men severely punished. Many senior officers fled to China where they remain.

The effect of that coup attempt was to make Kim Chong-il entirely dependent on the army. He abandoned any pretense of pursuing economic openness and replaced it with the "military first" doctrine still in use.

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