The Nork Face

first off  I had people I know sharing this on social media. Seriously people, get your act together.

moving on-

It is time to dust off all your contacts with Kremlinologists. What is going on in North Korea and should we expect trouble on the nuclear front?
As GSN reported at the end of the year there is always concern when political volatility and nuclear arsenals are combined.  report here
“The unpredictability of the actions that we see coming out of North Korea … is very concerning to everyone,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, speaking alongside Dempsey at the same press conference. “The reality of that uncertainty heightens the tensions.”

Given that U.S. top brass seemed concerned about these developments we wanted to look into this a little bit further. We’re lucky here at Sp403 to have the chance to talk to some North Korean experts. We sat down briefly with Dr. Han Park to ask about the purge and power in North Korea.  Dr. Park’s view is that this was not the result of a (much) larger struggle for power. It is possible for many of us in the West to underestimate the importance in North Korea of being part of Kim Il-sung’s blood line. According to Dr. Park Kim Jong Un does not have any real challengers to his grip on power in the country. Jang Sung Thaek could have caused trouble for the regime, but a direct challenge to Kim Jong Un is doubted.
If not a consolidation of power or a response to challenge – what is going on? It is possible that the purge came out of a fear (real or imagined) that there were political forces which would have preferred Kim Jong-nam in power. The purge may have been targeted to prevent any momentum in that direction.

Gi-Wook Shin and David Straub also wrote up a nice article on the purge and why, whatever the motivation, it has done even more damage to the country’s reputation and will create continued instability.  here 

It isn’t rare for the Norks to pursue cooperation while preparing to provoke. This could also be the result of incoherent strategy or factions moving in different directions see this for instance.  

Man, I wanted to work in a joke about Kim Jong Un and Purging …

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