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Defector compares North Korea's Kim Jong Un to Roman emperor Nero

By
Elizabeth Shim
Kim Jong Un is remarkably distrustful of his subordinates and is not afraid of executing officials for perceived offenses, Thae Yong-ho told a South Korean newspaper. File Photo by KCNA
Kim Jong Un is remarkably distrustful of his subordinates and is not afraid of executing officials for perceived offenses, Thae Yong-ho told a South Korean newspaper. File Photo by KCNA

March 7 (UPI) -- The senior North Korea diplomat who defected to the South from Pyongyang's embassy in London described Kim Jong Un as a "21st century Nero" in a recent interview with a South Korean newspaper.

Thae Yong-ho, who may have eschewed interviews with media since the assassination of the North Korea leader's half-brother Kim Jong Nam, recently returned to the spotlight to provide his views on the regime.

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In an interview with South Korean newspaper Kukmin Ilbo, Thae said Kim Jong Un is a despot who cannot tolerate those who disagree with him. Thae then provided an anecdote about Pyongyang Folklore Park, which began construction in 2008.

There have been previous reports Kim Jong Un had the park shut down because Jang Sung Taek had managed it.

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Jang, Kim's uncle-in-law, was executed in 2013.

Thae said Kim's edict came after Jang's execution, when the North Korean leader was traveling by car and saw the park from his window.

"After [Kim] killed Jang Song Taek, he said he kept seeing Jang's face each time he passed the areas surrounding the folklore park and recruited military units to have the park destroyed."

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Thae compared Kim Jong Un to the Roman emperor Nero, who according to historical records began a fire in Rome to make room for a new palatial complex.

During his term as a diplomat in the regime, Thae said he was also aware of the precariousness of Kim Jong Nam's position as a high-ranking exile.

After 2009, when Kim Jong Un was officially named the next leader of North Korea, Thae said a friend in charge of foreign currency earnings in China was arrested for providing funds to the leader's older half-brother to support his gambling habits.

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Other members of Kim Jong Nam's entourage in China were "killed," Thae said, leaving many to speculate whether the older Kim would be next.

Kim Jong Nam was slain on Feb. 13 at an airport in Malaysia.

Thae said Kim Jong Un lacks trust in others and his existence was completely unknown to most North Koreans until 2009.

The former diplomat also said Kim is not well rooted in North Korean society because he grew up in Switzerland, a background that amplifies his distrust of people in the regime, according to the report.

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