Kim Jong-un orders 600,000 out of Pyongyang

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Kim Jong-un orders 600,000 out of Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently ordered the deportation of nearly 600,000 Pyongyang residents to the suburbs, a local source told the JoongAng Ilbo Monday.

The deportation represents one-fourth of Pyongyang’s current population of 2.6 million. It is not known when they will be forced to move or to where.

“Population control was the pretext of the latest order,” said the source, who asked for anonymity, “but in reality, the purpose is to ‘purify’ the North Korean capital and allow only the loyal elite class to live there.”

Among those who were chosen by authorities to move are people whose relatives defected to South Korea, had been jailed in a prison camp, used drugs or counterfeit money, and produced, distributed or sold pirated films from the South.

Those who were caught selling other illegally imported goods in a jangmadang, or North Korean black market, were excluded because such cases have become so prevalent that it is no longer considered a serious crime, the source said.

The State Security Department and People’s Safety Agency are screening the candidates.

A South Korean government official said the North has sporadically kicked a few dissidents out of the capital in the past, but never a group as large as this.

Kim’s order comes as the leader is spending most of the country’s resources in modernizing districts in the capital. In 2012, shortly after he rose to power, Kim constructed Changjon Street, a high-rise apartment complex.

The following year, he completed Eunha Scientist Street, a residential complex for scientists and technologists who contributed to the country’s nuclear and missile development program.

The latest Ryomyong Street, home to a 70-story apartment tower, is scheduled to be completed Saturday in time for the 105th birthday anniversary of late founder Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather.

BY LEE YOUNG-JONG [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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