North Korea: Kim Jong-un hails powerful uncle's execution as 'removal of factional filth'

New Year's Day message included call for improved ties with Seoul but also warning of possible 'nuclear catastrophe'

Kim Jong-un has described the execution of his own uncle as the removal of “factionalist filth”, and said it leaves North Korea in a much stronger position going into the new year.

Speaking in his annual New Year’s Day address, the dictator also made positive hints at reconciliation with South Korea – despite briefly warning of a potential “nuclear catastrophe”.

The country has been reeling from the bloody purge earlier this month which saw Kim’s uncle Jang Song Thaek and a number of apparent co-conspirators publicly removed from power and later killed.

And though he did not mention by name the man who many regarded as his second in command, Kim said the “resolute” action to “ eliminate factionalist filth” within the ruling Workers' Party had bolstered the country's unity “by 100 times”.

Meanwhile, international observers said a shift in language over the relationship with South Korea was similar to the rhetoric of recent annual messages, yet undeniably an improvement on last year’s explicit threats of a nuclear war.

Kim said the time had come for both sides to stop the war of words that has defined their tumultuous relationship in recent months.

Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea's Kyungnam University, said there was a stronger push in this year's message for improved ties with Seoul, but that doesn't mean North Korea will take any dramatic steps anytime soon.

Observers say Kim's vow to improve his people's living standards could be linked to the comments on better inter-Korean ties, which are seen as necessary to winning badly needed investment and aid.

Robert Carlin, a North Korea expert and contributor to the 38 North website, said Kim's speech suggests more concrete North Korean proposals are coming. “Many times over the past 30 or 40 years, the two sides have started dialogue by agreeing to stop slander of the other,” he said. “It's a relatively easy - and verifiable - first step”.

In comments similar to past North Korean propaganda, Kim also warned of an accidental conflict that could trigger “an enormous nuclear catastrophe,” which would threaten US safety.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula technically in a state of war. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea in an effort to deter North Korean aggression.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'