New purges in North Korea?

According to the Chosun Ilbo, North Korea is apparently purging military officers with family members who have defected to South Korea.

Officers and soldiers who have family or relatives that have defected have been driven out since early October in a purge led by the Politburo and state security, a source said Monday. Around 1,000 officers and enlisted soldiers have been dishonorably discharged over the last month.

« There seems to be a lot of resentment among soldiers who claim to have been driven out even though they are innocent, » the source added.

Military service is crucial in rising up through the ranks of the Workers Party.

When the number of recruits dwindled after a massive famine in the late 1990s that killed more than 1 million North Koreans, the North eased drafting standards allowing even family members of defectors to join. But screening has become more stringent following recent high-level defections.

One defector who used to be a senior official said, « Defectors send not only money back to North Korea but information as well. Top officials probably became nervous when they found out that information from the outside world was being passed on to soldiers through family members who defected. »

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Nicolas Levi

Analyst on North Korean issues

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