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North Korea's Kim Jong Un brags about strength after removal of 'filth'

North Korea

By FOSTER KLUG and HYUNG-JIN KIM

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Kim Jong Un boasted Wednesday that North Korea enters the new year on a surge of strength because of the elimination of "factionalist filth" - a reference to the young leader's once powerful uncle, whose execution last month raised questions about Kim's grip on power.

Kim's comments in an annual New Year's Day message, which included a call for improved ties with Seoul but also a warning of a possible "nuclear catastrophe," will be scrutinized by outside analysts and governments for clues about the opaque country's intentions and policy goals.

Already widespread worry about the country has deepened since Kim publicly humiliated and then executed his uncle and mentor, one of the biggest political developments in Pyongyang in years, and certainly since Kim took power two years ago after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

North Korea's "resolute" action to "eliminate factionalist filth" within the ruling Workers' Party has bolstered the country's unity "by 100 times," Kim said in a speech broadcast by state TV. He didn't mention by name his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, long considered the country's No. 2 power.

But Kim included rhetoric that some analysts saw as a first step to renewing dialogue with rival Seoul. Kim called for an improvement in strained ties with South Korea, saying it's time for each side to stop slandering the other and urging Seoul to listen to voices calling for Korean unification.

That language, which is similar to that of past New Year's messages, is an obvious improvement on last year's threats of nuclear war, though there is still skepticism in Washington and Seoul about Pyongyang's intentions.

North Korea's authoritarian, secretive government is extremely difficult for outsiders to interpret, and analysts are divided about the meaning of Jang's execution on treason charges. Many, however, believe that the purge shows Kim Jong Un struggling to establish the same absolute power that his father and grandfather enjoyed.

The public announcement of Jang's fall opened up a rare and unfavorable window on the country's inner workings, showing an alleged power struggle between Kim and his uncle after the 2011 death of Kim Jong Il.

Jang's public downfall was seen as an acknowledgement of dissension and loss of control by the ruling Kim dynasty. That has caused outside alarm as Kim Jong Un simultaneously tries to revive a moribund economy and pushes development of nuclear-armed missiles.

Seoul worries that instability could lead to provocations meant to help consolidate internal unity. Attacks blamed on North Korea killed 50 South Koreans in 2010, and tension on the Korean Peninsula still lingers, although Pyongyang has backed away from war rhetoric from early last year that included threats of nuclear attacks against Washington and Seoul.

Recent indications that North Korea is restarting a mothballed reactor that can produce plutonium for bombs has left Washington and Seoul skeptical about Pyongyang's recent calls for a resumption of long-stalled nuclear disarmament talks. The country conducted its third nuclear test in February. It's estimated to have a handful of crude nuclear devices and to be working toward building a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, although most experts say that goal may take years to achieve.

Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea's Kyungnam University, said there was a stronger push in this year's message for improved ties with Seoul, but that doesn't mean North Korea will take any dramatic steps anytime soon.

Observers say Kim's vow to improve his people's living standards could be linked to the comments on better inter-Korean ties, which are seen as necessary to winning badly needed investment and aid.

Robert Carlin, a North Korea expert and contributor to the 38 North website, said Kim's speech suggests more concrete North Korean proposals are coming. "Many times over the past 30 or 40 years, the two sides have started dialogue by agreeing to stop slander of the other," Carlin said in an email. "It's a relatively easy (and verifiable) first step."

In comments that mirror past North Korean propaganda, Kim also warned of an accidental conflict that could trigger "an enormous nuclear catastrophe," which would threaten U.S. safety.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula technically in a state of war. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea to help deter North Korean aggression.
Kim Jong-Un Praises Uncle's Execution, Gives Nuclear Warning

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woodylinw January 02 2014 at 1:49 AM

SOME ONE SHOULD TAKE HIM ASIDE AND EXPLAIN TO HIM THAT IF HE DOES ANY THING NUCLEAR THAT HARMS ANYONE IN THE FREE WORLD HE WILL BE COMMITING INVOULUNTARY SUICIDE HE IS VERY STUPID AND DOES NOT SEEM TO BE AWRAE OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO HIM IF HE GOES TO FAR

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polistotle1 January 02 2014 at 1:19 AM

I am strongly pro-life but if there ever was a good argument for allowing abortion it is Kim Jong-Un.

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sacman6900 January 02 2014 at 1:16 AM

This kid is a bigger wack job than his father was.

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FAG January 02 2014 at 1:08 AM

Someone needs to put that spoiled fat boy down! I vant all the chocolate, yeah!

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rrboyle January 02 2014 at 1:04 AM

This little dictator is so predictably unpredictable; unstable. What a puffy little buffoon...who can possibly take him seriously, except the poor masses of NK?

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Trisha January 02 2014 at 1:02 AM

Sooner or later the ruling-filth of this whole world will kill eachother off. And the Earth and its regular people will be better off for it.

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christierandall January 02 2014 at 12:58 AM

this punk is too young and ignorant and dangerous to be the head of any country. He needs to release all of those people in prison camps...so many of them were born in these camps....because their ancestors several generations ago tried to escape to the South.

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Karen January 02 2014 at 12:34 AM

Foolish little man; the only way South Korea would ever "unify" with the North would be based upon your imprisonment, or death.

Sounds good to the rest of us.

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Ken January 02 2014 at 1:22 AM

Family ties are of much greater importance to Koreans than to us Americans, and the many, many families sundered and kept apart by the war - and the ongoing technical state of war - causes Korean minds and hearts a tremendous degree of pain. The Seoul government has a cabinet-level office dedicated to "Unification" and Sun Myung Moon titled his movement the "Unification Church" partly because of knowing what an intense desire the mere mention of "unification" stirs in Korean hearts. You may well describe the only way South Korea ever rightly SHOULD reunify wih the North, but politics rarely results in things going the only way they rightly should go. Where intense emotions like theirs are involved, logic and philosophy may take back seats.

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Karen January 02 2014 at 12:29 AM

Aren't there any real men in that country?

Why hasn't somebody taken that worm's head off before he starts something that causes a nuclear hit somewhere.

The entire world will be affected; he needs to be taken off the planet. That boy is too unstable and rabid to be in "control" of anything, much less a country and the lives of so many people.

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Ken January 02 2014 at 1:14 AM

"Why hasn't somebody taken that worm's head off before he starts something that causes a nuclear hit somewhere?"

That may have been exactly what the late Jang Song Thaek was trying to do and what happened to Jang Song Thaek was no doubt intended as Kim Jong Un's answer to your question.

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beachvol January 02 2014 at 12:25 AM

This guy wants to be another Castro with exception of not leading his people but taking on America...which is about the same....he is not to be taken lightly, as these types of idiots are dangerous....anyone that will kill his on family member is obviously ruthless....did I say Hitler???? Just disturbs me when someone this young gets the support of his communist comrades ....they all want a shot at the US....

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