Officials connected to Jang said to be dismissedThe son of the chief secretary to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was dismissed from his post due to his alleged connection to Jang Song-thaek, Kim’s once-powerful uncle who was executed for treason last year, a source familiar with North Korean affairs said Sunday.
According to the official, Kim Ki-sok, chairman of the State Commission for Economic Development of North Korea, is currently undergoing “revolutionization,” a sort of ideological brainwashing Pyongyang officials must endure if they are suspected of conspiracy or if their loyalty to the state is called into question.
“After the execution of Jang Song-thaek last year, an intense censorship started on all of the foreign currency businesses Jang was involved in so far,” the source said.
“In the process of the review, the son of [Chief Secretary] Kim Chang-son, Kim Ki-sok, has stepped down from his position and gone through ideological education, which must be part of the regime’s efforts to exterminate the footprints of Jang Song-thaek.
“North Korea has appeared to warn officials that anyone can be punished if they were related to Jang Song-thaek - even the son of the chief secretary,” the source said.
Kim Chang-son is known to be the closest aide to the young leader and has been in that position since Kim Jong-un started his reign in December 2011.
However, although his son is being disciplined, Kim Chang-son is allegedly safe, South Korean government sources said.
Meanwhile, another key figure under Kim Jong-un’s rule is also under revolutionary education, despite his growing reputation as a rising star in North Korean economic policy-making.
Kim Chol-jin, vice chairman of the State Commission for Economic Development, has been dismissed from his position, a South Korean government official confirmed.
As one of the few aides to Kim Jong-un who accompanied the leader during his visit to the Masikryong Ski Resort, he was known as a rising talent behind the throne.
“Including Kim Ki-sok and Kim Chol-jin, most of the officials who were in charge of foreign currency businesses at the State Commission for Economic Development or the Joint Venture and Investment Commission have undergone revolutionary education, which has paralyzed the entire business now,” the South Korean official said.
“They are expected to be under education for at least three months and will be able to return to work as early as May.”
Officials in the State Commission for Economic Development and the Joint Venture and Investment Commission were in charge of drawing foreign investment and foreign currency as well as interacting with Jang, sources in Seoul said.
Speculation arose that key officials in the foreign currency business were dismissed when they abruptly disappeared from their posts and disconnected themselves from their foreign counterparts who collaborated with them in their joint ventures.
North Korea’s plans for attracting foreign investment to the regime’s special economic zones appear to be suspended for the time being.
Several foreign companies in Hong Kong, China and Singapore have already taken moves to withdraw their investment enterprises in the Communist state, sources said.
BY JEONG YONG-SOO, KIM HEE-JIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]