MOM, POP, and the Brothers Kim

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The brothers Kim
On 15 February, Malaysian police arrested a woman in connection with the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, half brother of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un (photos right). Last night, news services reported that a second woman has been arrested in connection with the assassination. Authorities said they are also searching for four male suspects.
The Malaysian government has refused a North Korean demand that Malaysia not conduct an autopsy on Kim Jong Nam. Malaysian doctors have completed the autopsy. They have not released any details.

Historically, three North Korean agents from the Korean People’s Army attempted to assassinate South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan in October 1983 during a state visit to Rangoon, Burma. Burma executed, killed in a gunfight or imprisoned the three men, who were army officers, and suspended diplomatic relations with North Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was concerned about whatever his elder half-brother was doing to justify action that would embarrass Malaysia in this fashion. It is one of the few states with which North Korea has normal relations. If the Norks were responsible for the assassination, it would not be unusual for Malaysia to suspend friendly relations with the rogue dictatorship.
It’s also possible that China could have arranged the assassination. After the missile launch on 12 February, China might judge that it needed to send a message to Kim Jong Un about his fragile mortality. However it’s not just China. Other countries have strong motives to want to send a message to North Korea by assassinating a Kim family member.
MOM – Means, Opportunity and Motive
North Korean intelligence services have demonstrated they have the means for assassinations. As for opportunity, the distractions and tension in an airport boarding area provide an opportunity to catch waiting passengers unawares and vulnerable. The motive would be to silence a regime critic and potential alternative leader from within the Kim family

The late Kim Chong-il exiled, rather than killed, his half-brother, Kim Pyong-il, as North Korean ambassador to a variety of eastern European states. He currently is the North Korean ambassador to the Czech Republic. Pyong-il is a graduate of the Kim Il-sung National War College and held the rank of colonel in the Korean People’s Army at one time. He is the only son or grandson of Kim Il-sung who served in the Korean People’s Army. Kim Chong-il never let his half-brother return to North Korea for fear he might rally the Army. He is 62.

POP – Past Operational Practice
The South Korean National Intelligence Service reported that North Korean agents tried to assassinate Kim Jong Nam in 2012 in Macao, within the first year of Kim Jong Un’s succession. Kim Jong Un reportedly issued a standing order to assassinate his half-brother, according to the South Koreans.
Kim Jong Nam waves good-bye

Make what you will of the limited evidence.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuangji declined to answer questions about China’s reaction to the assassination of North Korean exile Kim Jong Nam in Malaysia. He said the Malaysians are investigating it and China is closely following developments.
Tension between the DPRK and the PRC
On 13 February, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said that China “opposed” the North Korean missile launch on 12 February. 

That is language that China has used only in reference to the North Korean nuclear testing program. Chinese statements have been careful to distinguish between the two programs. China has never before stated publicly its opposition to the North’s missile program. It also has accepted the North’s argument that it is a defensive program generated by the US threat to North Korea. The latest launch reinforces South Korea, Japan and the US in their decisions to upgrade missile defenses. 

North Korean testing helps ensure the failure of China’s efforts to prevent the installation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea. 
Kim Jong Un’s timing in approving a missile test during Japanese Prime Minister Abe’s visit to the US was particularly unfortunate for China. Chinese President Xi and US President Trump recently had a positive telephone conversation. Chinese patience with the US appeared to be having a positive effect.
North Korean actions are making North Korea and China less safe. China’s patience with North Korea is running out. However, China still considers the US threat to North Korea to be partly responsible for North Korea’s missile program.

18 thoughts on “MOM, POP, and the Brothers Kim

  1. For the next several days, North Korea will be marking the birthday of its late leader Kim Jong-il, the brothers' father, though they have different mothers.

    There have been no mentions of the death of Kim Jong-nam in state media and there have been suggestions that ordinary North Koreans may not know their leader even had an older half-brother as it would call into question the legitimacy of the rule of their present leader.

    Kim Jong-un | A history of executions – family, allies and rivals

    Kim Jong-nam
    The half-brother of the North Korean dictator was assassinated at an airport in Malaysia in February 2017 having apparently been attacked with a chemical spray

    Ri Yong-jin
    North Korea's top education official was executed in August 2016 with a high-caliber machinge gun for falling asleep during a meeting, according to reports

    Hyong Yong-Choi
    The defence minister was shot by anti-aircraft guns in front of hundreds of onlookers in April 2015 for falling asleep during an event and not carrying out instructions, according to South Korean intelligence officers

    General Jang Song-Thaek
    In December 2013, Jang, Kim Jong-un's uncle and a leading general, was accused of being a counter-revolutionary and executed. There were reports that many members of his family were also killed

    Kim Kyong-hui
    Jang's wife and Kim Jong-un's aunt, was apparently poisoned in May 2014 after complaining about her husband's execution, according to defectors

    O Sang-hon
    Jang's ally, the deputy public security minister, was executed with a flame-thrower in April 2014, South Korean media reported

    Kim Chol
    A vice minister in the army was apparently executed with a mortar round in April 2014 for drinking and carousing in the official mourning period for Kimg Jong-iI's death

    VOTE Kim Jong Un (Person of the Year)

  2. Execution by flame thrower. This guy doesn't pussy foot around, when it comes to bumping off any threats to his power.

    One has to wonder what will come of this country in our lifetimes. Will the starving population join with the military and revolt against the tyranny of this fat little monster, or will they continue to suffer in perpetuity.

  3. General Jang Song-Thaek was executed by beind placed in a cage with a pack of starving dogs.

  4. I don't think I would want to run for office in North Korea… unless I had a suicide wish. I don't believe the loyaly to KJ-u is out of love. More like fear, and the military also acts out of fear. Plus, death aside, no one wants to be outside the party elite… the living conditions are too good for them. I also don't think we will have to do anything with them. China will do it for us.

  5. I find the execution of high level Norks for falling asleep while Dear Leader speaks to be — cute. The fat little bastard has a very high opinion of himself and of his honeyed words. He's a murderous monster, but all of the Kims have been. It's the only way that they can keep the starving and suffering masses in line.

  6. This is a good example of the problem. It's been done before.

    Being thrown in a pit with snakes, torn to pieces by starving wolves, being shot to pieces with anti aircraft artillery, being cooked by a flame thrower, beheading, it's all so dramatic and medieval, but they need to come up with something new if they want to make the 24 hour cable news cycle.

    Norks are sadistic brutal monsters but they lack creativity. Take the Russians and Georgi Markov – poison micro pellet filled with ricin, fired by an umbrella-gun. There's something that you can write a book about. The Norks seem to lack that capacity…that and to provide electricity to any but Dear Leader's compound.

  7. They're screwing up the Chinese mojo and throwing the Japanese and the ROKs more heavily into the US camp. You're right, the Chinese are more likely to find a way to handle regime change and make it stick.

  8. So who/what is actually calling the shots in the DPRK? Are major decisions (such as the 12FEB rocket launch) made out of calculation (which, even if wrong, at least have a plan and purpose) or just plain crazy? If the former, why do they (whoever "they" is/are/be) think the presumed benefit of pissing off the Red Chinese (anti THAAD, etc) worth the fallout of pissing off a powerful neighbor and patron?

    Clearly one morbidly obese (175cm, 130kg, BMI=42.4 kg/m2=morbid obesity) guy with a bad haircut is not personally terrorizing nearly 25M people into obedience. Can't recall where I saw the analysis, but there is obviously a large enough group (some 2M?) within the DPRK that benefits from supporting the regime. So how much of a figurehead is any given Kim, and how much real power and policy-making influence does he have?

    Something that follows from the above musing is:
    1. The PRC did in Brother Kim as a message to the DPRK;
    2. Kim Jong Il had Kim Jong Nam done in to kill a potential rival;
    is 3 (below) credible?
    3. Internal DPRK faction took out Kim JN as a message to Kim JI.

  9. Kim Jong Un has consolidated considerable power unto himself and we see that played out. To the extent that he serves the power interests of the coterie of freaks, generals, and political apparatchiks, he only grows with stature. He's obviously smart enough to know which side of the bread has butter on it.

    The other thing they have going is a system which has been in place since grandpa was Dear Leader, and the slightest bit of dissent is SMASHED. The gene pool of thinkers, and people yearning to breathe free has been wiped out. They are left with fleshed out robots.

    Bored with the speech that Dear Leader is throwing out? No matter high you are on the pole, you'll be shot, or fed to lions or whatever the sadistic little son-of-a-bitch comes up with.

  10. They plan to test launch an ICBM at the US this year. They have "misused" new Chinese rocket motor technology and plan to teach the US a lesson. This is problematic in the extreme for China. So things will get worse before they get better.

  11. I saw that news as I was getting ready to leave England. For some reason it made me think of the Clintons, I don't know why.

  12. China still doesn't realize we don't consider a country a threat unless they threaten another country.

  13. It's an interesting question. Who killed the most to try and get into power – the Clintons or Kim Jong Un?

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