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Kim Jong-un to push for one-man leadership structure in North Korea after 2 years in power

Updated: 2013-12-16 (KST)
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With the death of late North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il on December 17th, 2011, his 27-year-old successor Kim Jong-un found his hands full.
A nuclear arsenal, over one million troops, more than six trillion dollars worth of natural resources together with a heavily oppressed and impoverished population of 24 million were all under the young Kim's reign.
Making friends with an American NBA star and courting his fashionable wife in public, the young leader certainly distinguished himself from his father.

"His father was more distant. He seems to be more like a natural politician who actually gets on well with people and mixes with them and photogenic like his grandfather was. And so that's what he has been deploying in his leadership style."

"But the shuddering side of Kim Jong-un was revealed just days before his two-year anniversary in power, with the young leader removing his own family member from North Korea's ruling elite."

Experts say the execution of his uncle Jang Song-thaek, who was known as the second most powerful man in North Korea, signals that the young leader has entered a new phase in his leadership.

"A second in command can not exist in North Korea. Only one leader exists. In that sense, Kim Jong-un seems to have removed Jang Song-thaek, the second man in power, to tighten his grip on power."

As shocking as the news of Jang's removal was to the outside world, experts say it was a calculated move and a much expected one.
One by one, Kim had been dismissing senior officials from his father's generation and replacing them with his own inner circle.
But Jang's execution may also destabilize the North Korean regime.

"It shows how corrupted the North Korean leadership is and that there are many internal conflicts due to the forces who oppose change. In the long term, this may provoke the North Korean citizens."

In the foreseeable future, however, the young leader will continue portraying himself as a relaxed and open ruler welcoming retired American basketball player Dennis Rodman for the third time this year and allowing an international delegation to tour the Gaeseong Industrial Complex this week.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.

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