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article imagePurges start in North Korea as Kim Jong-Un executes deputy

By Karen Graham     Feb 7, 2015 in World
Pyongyang - North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un relies on purges to cement his power since taking over a country with 1.2 million military troops and a nuclear-arms program in 2011. Now he has applied more pressure, executing a four-star general last month.
Bloomberg is reporting that North Korea's "Supreme Leader" has executed one of his right-hand deputies, a four-star general because they had a disagreement. General Pyon In Son, the head of operations in the Korean People’s Army, was executed sometime last month because he and Kim were said to have had a disagreement.
It is not known what the disagreement was over, but according to a South Korean official, speaking on condition of anonymity as per government policy, the general expressed a differing opinion than Kim. “The purge of Pyon sends a message that helps to discipline the military,” said Kim Yong Hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul, to Bloomberg. “The execution is a symbol that will help tighten loyalty.”
Help or not, executions are Kim's way of tightening control over the military. According to Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, Pyon was purged because he refused to follow Kim's orders to replace several officials in charge of military ties with China. Pyon was considered a valuable player in military talks between Beijing and Pyongyang, but with North Korea leaning more toward Russia, Kim was putting more pressure on Pyon to change his staffing.
Kim seems to do regular purges or at least annual purges. His mistrust of the military is evident in the number of high-ranking officers that end up disappearing every year. Kim had his uncle and one-time deputy Jang Song Thaek executed in 2013. Last year he purged 50 officials accused of everything from graft to watching South Korean soap operas. Besides the execution of Pyon in January, Kim removed Ma Won Chun, a National Defense Commission official, from office in November.
Along the same lines, North Korea said on Wednesday last week it wouldn't agree to talks with the U.S. and is instead focusing on its ability to destroy the U.S. with conventional, nuclear and cyber-warfare attacks, according to Stars and Stripes. Kim has accused the U.S. of "inching closer to the stage of igniting a war of aggression" by stepping up sanctions against North Korea, the official Korean Central News Agency said, citing a statement from the National Defense Commission.
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