Park-In Young, chief of North Korea’s Bureau 131, has been dismissed in a most permanent manner. Young was the official responsible for the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. His role as chief of a division of the ruling party’s Central Committee responsible for the supervision of military facilities like the Sohae Satellite Launching Station and the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test facility likely had everything to do with his death. Reports of his execution come from Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper that cites the information as coming from a defector of North Korea. Although it is still unclear why the leader may have been executed, this method of retaining complete control is common to the North Korean government.
- One reason could be that there was a delay on the September 3 nuclear test that was supposed to happen in the spring. Young delayed the test because the tunnels were not ready.
- Another potential black mark leading up the execution is the collapsed tunnel that killed almost 200 people. Park is said to have been responsible for ensuring the safety of the tunnel.
- Although Park delayed the testing that was scheduled for the spring because the tunnels weren’t quite ready, he may have also been held responsible for the fact that the September testing caused a 6.3 magnitude earthquake and multiple families to be treated for radiation poisoning. However, the families were only exposed to radiation because the regime did not warn them of the testing time.
- Rumors are circulating that General Hwang Pyong So of the General Political Bureau has been executed, since he has not been seen or listed on major event roll calls since November.
- Hwang’s deputy is said to have been punished along with Hwang for having “impure” attitudes. The deputy was sent to a prison camp, while Hwang has simply disappeared.
- Hwang originally replaced Choe Ryong Hae, who was sent to work on a farm for a month after losing his position because he mishandled the power given to him when managing a construction project.
- Kim Jong-un has a reputation for punishing anyone who may seem to have too much influence. This is one of his methods of retaining all levels of control in North Korea.
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If the recent actions of North Korea’s leaders indicate that there is an internal shift of power taking place, do you think that a change in leadership will improve relations between the US and North Korea?