North Korea’s formerly powerful number two, the ill-fated Jang Song Thaek, was very publicly and brutally executed along with key aides either as part of Kim Jong Un’s plan to consolidate his unrivalled power, as retaliation for fomenting a military coup against the boy leader, or as punishment for simply “not clapping with sufficient enthusiasm”. North Korean’s propaganda organs were in rare form when they denounced him: “Despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery . . . every sentence of the decision served as a sledgehammer blow brought down by our angry service personnel and people on the head of Jang, an anti-party, counter-revolutionary, factional element and despicable political careerist and trickster”. How is this Asian hybrid of Hobbes and Orwell even possible in 21st century Northeast Asia, the veritable cockpit of the global economy? Read more
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