On December 16, a large assembly of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), as well as the Navy, the Air Force, and the Anti-Air Force of the KPA gathered outdoors at the plaza of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang for the purpose of pledging their loyalty to Kim Jong Un.
Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae, the Chief of the General Political Department, led the pledge for the military with some chilling remarks: “We will find, to the end, any one of those who walk a different path without upholding the supreme commander comrade’s idea and intent and those who attempt to castigate the supreme commander comrade’s leadership, wherever they are in hiding, and burn them up even without leaving their ashes.”
He also said that “we will intensely wage the ideological battle to crush the heterogeneous and decadent bourgeois idea and culture” with the strength of the military-first culture in order to “make only the blood of juch’e, the military-first-type blood, flows in the entire army.”
Commentary: The Chief of the General Political Department — the top Party commissar — is new, and pledging the military’s backing in conducting more purges.The present-day scenario is not unlike the consolidation of power of Kim Jong Un’s father:
Within two months of the death of Kim Jong Un’s grandfather (Kim Il-sung), Kim Jong-il was nearly assassinated. There were many subsequent uprisings against him, but the most sensational was that by the VI Army Corps in North Hamgyong Province in northeastern North Korea. The entire leadership of that corps rebelled against “The Great Leader” in April 1995. The coup was thwarted and forty officers were killed and 300 men severely punished. Many senior officers fled to China.
The effect of that coup attempt was to make Kim Jong-il entirely dependent on the army. He abandoned any pretense of pursuing economic openness and replaced it with the “military first” doctrine still in use.
Similarly, Kim Jong Un’s dependence on the army seems to have been consolidated by a failed coup attempt.