A North Korean defector, who claims to have worked among the elites in Pyongyang before making a harrowing escape to the South, has come forward with some rather interesting theories about the stability of Kim Jong-un’s oppressive regime.
In fact, he believes the Supreme Leader might be assassinated soon.
Since his family and friends are still trapped in the Hermit Kingdom, the defector refused to give out his name for the sake of their protection. However, he did claim that among the reign of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and now his son Kim Jong-un, “It is Kim Jong-un's regime that is the most unstable. And it is going to be the shortest.”
The defector, only identified as a young man with a thin frame, told CNN that it all goes back to 2013, when Kim Jong-il passed away and Kim Jong-un took over.
At first, the new ruler apparently “tried his best.” He gave away gifts, made public appearances, and allowed the state-run television to broadcast his voice – leading North Koreans to believe that things were going to get better.
However, the illusion didn’t last for long and in a few months' time, Kim ordered his uncle Jang Song Thaek expeled from the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea, accusing him of being disloyal to the nation. Not long after that, Jang was allegedly executed and his wife Kim Kyong – Kim’s aunt – disappeared from public view. Another defector later claimed the Supreme Leader had her poisoned.
Jang’s unexpected execution was just the beginning, according to the defector, who claimed that once Kim began to purge members from ruling and elite class, people started to fear him – even though there wasn’t any apparent reaction.
“I can tell you for sure the North Koreans who are in the upper middle class don't trust Kim Jong-un,” the defector said. “I was thinking about leaving North Korea for a long time. After seeing the execution of Jang, I thought, 'I need to hurry up and leave this hell on earth.' That's why I defected.”
Although the defector’s claims don’t appear to have any tangible proof, a survey by the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University has revealed that while the defectors perceived Kim Jong-un’s support at more than 70 percent in 2012, the figure dropped to 58 percent – which is still pretty high on its own – in 2014.
“Kim Jong-un is showing confidence. It shows that Kim Jong-un is gaining confidence in his power. The issue is with the future. How much trust Kim Jong-un can gain from his elites after the purges,” explained researcher Chang Yong Seok. “The elites could be feeling anxious. There is a possibility that their loyalty and support will weaken.”
Chang believes that North Korean regime “will collapse within 10 years.”
“Kim Jong-un is mistaken that he can control his people and maintain his regime by executing his enemies,” he added. “There's fear among high officials that at any time, they can be targets. The general public will continue to lose their trust in him as a leader by witnessing him being willing to kill his own uncle.”
While that may be true, neither the hermit state nor its dictator show any signs of weakness of a fall out. The defector believes that someone from Kim’s inner circle might assassinate him – or it could be an external force – but he’s fairly certain that as long as Kim Jong-un is alive, North Korea cannot collapse.