This week Kim Jong Un praised the recent purge of his uncle and former protector, saying it brought greater unity within secretive, nuclear-armed North Korea. Kim’s speech Wednesday is the first time he has publicly commented on the purge.
“In the seething period of the effort for building a thriving country last year, we took the resolute measure of removing the factionalists lurking in the Party,” Kim said in a New Year’s address, referring to the North’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.
“As our Party detected and purged the anti-Party, counterrevolutionary factionalists at an opportune time and with a correct decision, the Party and revolutionary ranks were further consolidated and our single-hearted unity was solidified to the maximum,” Kim said, according to the text of the speech carried by North Korean state media.
North Korean state media attacked Jang’s character and detailed an extensive list of his alleged crimes, describing him as “despicable human scum.”
In his speech, Kim also warned that if war were to break out in the region, it would spiral into a nuclear confrontation.
“The U.S. and South Korean war maniacs have deployed legions of equipment for a nuclear war in and around the Korean Peninsula and are going frantic in their military exercises for a nuclear war against the North,” Kim said. “This precipitates a critical situation where any accidental military skirmish may lead to an all-out war.”
“Should another war break out on this land,” he said, “it will result in a deadly nuclear catastrophe and the United States will never be safe.”
But his words stopped well short of the alarmingly threatening language that peppered North Korean statements in early 2013 as tensions spiked over the regime’s nuclear test in February and the resulting U.N. sanctions.