posted at 3:01 pm on January 25, 2017 by John Sexton
Thae Yong Ho was a high ranking ambassador at North Korea’s British embassy until he defected with his family last year. Now he is warning that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appears eager to blackmail the Trump administration with the threat of building more nuclear weapons. From CNN:
Thae says after his initial surprise that President Donald Trump won the US election, Kim now sees it as “a good opportunity for him to open a kind of compromise with the new American administration.”
But Thae insists Kim will only talk on his terms, pointing to the leader’s New Year’s Address.
“The level of this New Year’s speech is almost blunt blackmail,” says Thae.
In the address, Kim made it clear that if the US continued its current policy against North Korea, he would continue to add nuclear weapons to the country’s military capability.
Thae believes there is no end to this blackmail because Kim, “will never give up” his nuclear weapons. However, Thae also believes Kim’s days are numbered. From the NY Times:
The spread of outside news and market activities could eventually doom Mr. Kim because his government “can be held in place and maintained only by idolizing Kim Jong-un like a god,” Mr. Thae said. “If he tries to introduce a market-oriented economy to North Korean society, then there will be no place for Kim Jong-un in North Korea, and he knows that.”
But the leader’s efforts to clamp down on information and products from outside North Korea have been unsuccessful because the police accept bribes in exchange for freeing smugglers and people caught watching banned movies and dramas.
“Kim Jong-un’s days are numbered,” Mr. Thae said on Wednesday.
During the campaign, Trump said he would consider meeting with Kim Jong Un, but Thae warns this will only give additional legitimacy to a leader who now rules his country solely through fear. In December, a South Korean think tank published a report estimating that Kim Jong Un had executed 340 people since he took power in 2011.
Earlier this year, North Korea’s top education official Kim Yong Jin was executed by firing squad after he exercised a “bad attitude” at the country’s Supreme People’s Assembly in June.
In May 2015, Kim had his Defense Minister Hyon Yong Chol killed with an anti-aircraft gun at a military school in Pyongyang, in front of an audience.
The Defense Minister’s family was made to watch his execution.
Thae was able to escape the country only because his wife and children were traveling with him. In most cases, North Koreans traveling abroad must leave their children back home as defacto hostages. “Kim Jong Un abuses even the love between parents and children,” Thae tells CNN. Here is CNN’s interview: