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Kim Jong Un unpopular among top North Korea officials, defector says

A former North Korean diplomat said Kim reinstates officials against their will.

By Elizabeth Shim
Kim Jong Un unpopular among top North Korea officials, defector says
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is feared as unpredictable, and many senior officials are resigning out of fear for their safety, a defector in the South said Thursday. File Photo by KCNA

SEOUL, April 28 (UPI) -- A senior North Korean official who resigned because he was "overcome with stress" was forced to return to his position under Kim Jong Un's orders.

That and other signs indicate Kim Jong Un doesn't have adequate levels of support from top cadres of the Korean Workers' Party, said Ko Young-hwan, a former North Korean diplomat and defector.

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Ko, vice chief of the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, said political tensions owing to frequent purges compelled Cho Yon Jun, first deputy of the Korean Workers' Party, to resign.

The offer to resign was turned down by Kim, Ko said.

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Cho isn't alone in his desire to retire.

Many senior North Korean officials are fearful of the "unpredictable" Kim and they "never know what could happen next," Ko said, according to Yonhap.

"Many high-level cadres are turning their backs on Kim and exiting the regime," the analyst said.

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North Korea has purged more than a hundred officials under Kim.

In other parts of the country, ordinary North Koreans have "given up hope" in the future of the Kim regime, and lead a hand-to-mouth existence on a daily basis, Ko said.

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But they are also increasingly opening their eyes to the outside world, he added.

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Speaking at the same panel on the roles defectors could play in the event of unification, Kang Chol Hwan, a defector who was sentenced to North Korea's infamous Yodok prison camp as a child, said he has information North Korean prisoners have received leaflets featuring former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo.

"Sending information of the outside world to North Koreans is important," Kang said.

Kim may be decreasing in popularity, but according to Seoul's Unification Ministry, official idolization of the young leader has only increased, and has accelerated further since North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.

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North Korea is also manipulating historical facts, Yonhap reported.

A recent issue of a Pyongyang magazine stated the First Party Congress was held in October 1945, although experts say the event actually took place in August 1946.

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