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North Korea 'stabilizing' after the purge of Hyon Yong Chol

Political shakeups have abated since Hyon’s purge in April but if Kim Jong Un is unable to deliver positive results for the country’s economy in the long term, his policies could invite instability.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea 'stabilizing' after the purge of Hyon Yong Chol
An analyst said on Wednesday North Korea’s armed forces have stabilized its ranks since the purge of Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol. Hyon’s napping during a meeting was deemed treasonous to Kim Jong Un. File photo by Rodong Sinmun/Yonhap

SEOUL, Oct. 21 (UPI) -- North Korea's armed forces have stabilized its ranks since the purge of Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol.

Ken Gause, an analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses, told the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea the current regime is "quite stable." Shakeups have abated since Hyon's purge in April, Yonhap reported.

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Though Hyon's purge was confirmed in May, officials in Seoul have remained divided on his possible execution. Seoul's spy agency had said it is "confident" in its claims of Hyon's execution, but in July South Korea's Unification Ministry dismissed the execution as a rumor.

Sources said Hyon was executed for insubordination and disobeying the party leadership. Hyon's napping during a meeting was deemed treasonous to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who regarded displays of boredom during meetings, such as napping or daydreaming, as an offense worse than voicing opposition before the North Korean leader.

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Kim had allegedly asked Hyon his opinion on a matter, but discovered his defense minister was dozing off when his question was left unanswered. Military minders later detained Hyon.

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Gause said a stable regime is foreseeable in the next two to five years, but if Kim is unable to deliver positive results for the country's isolated economy in the long term, his policies could invite political instability.

Gause said Kim has not been able to consolidate his power because he has been unable to bring about critical economic changes.

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Under Kim, North Korea has focused its efforts toward the construction of showcase buildings, including a new terminal at its main airport near Pyongyang. On Wednesday, North Korea announced the completion of a street being built in honor of future scientists, and a science hall. South Korean television network KBS reported the new complex cost Pyongyang about $8.7 million.

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