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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager - Events, Digital, Offline

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager (Events, Digit...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable