Execution of Kim Jong-un’s uncle Jang Song-thaek raises fears in South

Five of the seven officials who walked alongside Kim Jong-il’s hearse in December 2011 have been killed, purged or sent to labour camps

South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye met her security officials on Monday to discuss what she called the “grave and unpredictable situation” in North Korea, following the shock execution of Kim Jong-un’s powerful uncle.

Mr Kim has carried out a string of public appearances in an apparent attempt to show the world that life has returned to normal inside the secretive state after the death of Jang Song-thaek.

The North’s state-run media carried pictures of the country’s supreme leader visiting a half-built ski resort in the freezing north-east, where he praised construction teams for making the project “the centre of the world’s attention”. Mr Kim was quoted as saying that “everyone would marvel” at its magnificence.

Shock brigades of soldier-workers have been racing to complete the Masik Pass Ski Resort, a megaproject designed to attract foreign tourists and encourage “cheerful laughter under socialism”, in the words of the official news agency KCNA. But many wonder who will use it in a country of 24 million people that has only a few thousand skiers.

The visit and several other official engagements by Mr Kim follow the spectacular removal of his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, for an alleged coup attempt, triggering concerns of a mass purge. South Korean newspapers have reported that Pyongyang is increasingly tense and fearful since Mr Jang’s death, with a visible rise in the numbers of security personnel in the capital.

“Given the latest development in the North, it is uncertain in what direction its political situation would evolve,” South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye said as she met security officials. “We also can’t rule out the possibility of contingencies such as reckless provocations.”

Reports in the Japanese media say North Korean officials have been reassuring foreign businessmen that Mr Jang’s elimination will not affect investment projects in special economic zones. The North has also said it will go ahead this week with a planned tour of the Kaesong Industrial Park by a 30-strong delegation of foreigners. Kaesong, a jointly run complex of South  Korean businesses employing North Korean labour, only recently reopened after the threat of war shut it down for five months.

But widespread reports of a rise in factory and school propaganda sessions and rumours of defections have added to the confusion about what is going on inside the Stalinist backwater. In another ominous sign that Mr Kim may be trying to secure his rule and rewrite history, articles in the North’s state media archive referring to Mr Jang have been deleted, according to KCNA Watch.

Seoul and Washington will be looking for clues to the North’s new power structure at ceremonies this week to mark the second anniversary of the death of Mr Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il. Four of the seven officials who walked alongside Kim Jong-il’s hearse through snowy Pyongyang in December 2011 have been purged or sent to labour camps. Mr Jang, who was considered a mentor to the young, untested Kim Jong-un, was also among the seven.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'