International Government Relations Unit Technical and Cyber Unit
COUNTRY: North Korea
NORTH KOREAN LEADER KIM JONG-UN IS ON A 5O-YEAR QUEST TO BUILD HIS PRESTIGE WITHIN NORTH KOREA AND ON THE WORLD STAGE WHILE MAKING SHORT-TERM, HOLLOW CLAIMS TO PURSUE DENUCLEARIZATION AND SEEK NORMALCY OF RELATIONS WITH THE WEST.
DOI: 2005 to mid-2019
SOURCE: Open source intelligence.
As of mid-2019, it is predicted that the North Korean regime, which views itself as a global pariah born from anti-Western, pro-Communism origins, will publicly pursue negotiations with the US while secretly maintaining unalloyed almost occultist aspirations to rile the West, build its military and cyber-warfare capabilities, and rebuff any meaningful and long-term opportunity or circumstance to improve the quality of life of the North Korean people at a pace that is even a fraction of what may be enjoyed by the self-enriching regime.
There have been few villains as persistently evil as the father-son duo of Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un. Their quarter century dictatorial, iron fist rule over North Korea sprung from the father’s birth in, and connection to, the Soviet Union, and devolved into a deeply mistrustful, insular kleptocracy hell-bent on breaking international laws and obfuscating common human values for the caretaking of their nation’s own people and public service institutions.
Key in Tactical Rabbit’s analysis are seven data points that we feel are immutable in their evocation and portrayal of the North Korean regime’s true evil and proof that Kim Jong-un can not, now or ever, be trusted. He has a passion for brutality, murder and betrayal.
1) In 2005, as a result of the most exhaustive negotiations to date with North Korea, the Six-Party Talks Joint Statement called for the dismantling of all nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons facilities. At the time, North Korea denied US Intelligence reporting that it had developed
a variety of precursor capabilities, including ballistic missile design and enrichment.
a. Despite the lengthy process and North Korea’s unpledged concurrence, North Korea eventually failed to comply with their end of the talks: namely, the agreement fell apart because North Korea impeded every effort to verify known and lesser-known, suspect nuclear and missile sites.
2) Around the same time as verification was being attempted, beginning in 2007 North Korea sent teams of scientists to the remote desert of Syria to either help Syria develop a nuclear enrichment facility or to work on their own nuclear aspirations outside of North Korea.
a. In this circumstance, one pariah nation appeared to help another; and it was no coincidence that both Syria and North Korea had military and economic ties to Russia (and formerly the Soviet Union).
b. Syria and North Korea went to great lengths to keep this program secret, so much so that when Israel conducted a covert operation to destroy the facility on 6 September 2007, leaving everyone at the facility dead – including approximately 20 North Korean scientists – there was not so much as an atom of protest by the Syrian or North Korean regimes. They knew they had been caught.
3) During the time of Kim Jong-il’s declining health and Kim Jong-un’s rise to replace his father, Kim Jong-un’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was briefly defacto acting-leader and began to consolidate respect and authority in the military ranks. In mid-2012, and after Kim Jong-il’s death, Jang – and not the young Kim Jong-un – traveled to China as North Korea’s top representative and met numerous Chinese leaders. By late-2012, though, analysts suspect Kim Jong-un’s jealousy of Jang had peaked: Jang was appointed titular head of a sports commission, and as a show of force and opposition to the world, Kim Jong-un began firing missiles.
a. By November 2013, Jang’s aides were executed under Kim Jong-un’s orders.
b. By December 2013, Jang was executed, reportedly by flame thrower. At the same time, all of Jang’s family – immediate and extended, including elderly, children and a former ambassador – were rounded up and killed as well. Kim Jong-un’s intent appeared to be to destroy any/all memory and lineage of Jang.
4) Kim Jong-un was not the eldest son: Kim Jong-il’s eldest son, Kim
Jong-nam, was born in 1971, some 11 years before Kim Jong-un. Unlike his father and half-brother, Kim Jong-nam sought to reform North Korea.
a. After a botched attempt to visit Disneyland in Japan (May 2001), and due to his progressive beliefs, Kim Jong-nam, once on a trajectory to replace his father, was exiled from North Korea.
b. In 2005, the first attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-nam was conducted by North Korean agents in Munich.
c. Multiple other attempts were made to kill Kim Jong-nam, and by 2012, Kim Jong-un had reportedly issued a formal order to have his half-brother assassinated.
d. On 13 February 2017, North Korean agents killed Kim Jong-nam in the public concourse of the Kuala Lumpur airport using VX nerve agent. (No one has ever been convicted for this murder.)
5) Kim Jung-un flexed his villain-leadership prowess in more ways than murderous purges and incrementally more threatening missile tests. In November 2014, just prior to the release of Sony Pictures’ movie, The Interview, North Korean cyber attackers hacked their way deep inside Sony Pictures’ computer networks, wiping out hundreds of computers and stealing content. It was an enormous and provocative breach intentionally directed at a US business because the movie was comedically critical of Kim Jung-un. Shortly after the FBI identified North Korea as the perpetrated, North Korea lost its access to the internet in an apparent denial-of-service, retaliatory attack.
6) As of 2018, numerous investigative reports concluded that an estimated
2.6 million North Koreans, or 10 percent of the entire population, lived or worked as modern day slaves – forced labor, servile marriages, human trafficking. It was further claimed that Kim Jong-un held court over an ever changing rotation of enslaved women, men, girls and boys for personal reasons.
7) As of at least 2019, experts have unanimously assessed that many of North Korea’s ballistic missiles appear identical in design and performance to Russian missiles; the speculation, therefore, is that among the abundant goods traded between North Korean and Russia, missile technologies are included. Given the historical links between North Korea and the Soviet Union, and the shared experiences in Syria, the theory that Russia aids North Korea is credible.
This list represents only a thin sliver of the protracted, prevalent evil and assorted demonic behavior shamelessly apotheosized by the Kim dynasty. One cannot even imagine the horrors that haunt everyday North Korean people or those few who seek reform if the Kim family uses flame throwers against life-long party loyalists, kills extended family members of supporters, and uses a gruesome nerve agent in a foreign, international airport to kill one’s own half-brother.
There clearly is no tolerance much less fondness in the North Korean regime for divergent thought, new ideas or progressive reforms. The leadership pyramid is not a triangle or even a straight line. It is a single point, a blotch, a crimson clot.
Tactical Rabbit assesses that the regime of Kim Jong-un will likely remain in power for another 50 years, and his vision will persist well beyond any one US leader and partisan animus or extensions of good will. His vision will not change unless the change is extremely incremental.
Tactical Rabbit further avers that Kim Jong-un will utilize public meetings with President Donald Trump and Chinese leaders to legitimize his authority within North Korea, particularly among older military leaders, and to codify his image as a mature, and not juvenile, world leader in the eyes of foreign governments and international bodies. We assess he will always pursue advanced offensive military technologies – including indirect transfers from Russia – as an important, if not exclusive, tool to elevate his image and North Korea’s short-term geo-strategic status. In this regard, North Korea has invested far too much into nuclear weapons technologies to permanently and irrevocably abandon them: this will not happen even if Kim Jong-un makes gestures and promises to do so at media spectacles surrounding his publicity-driven meetings with President Trump and Chinese leaders.
World leaders including US presidents would be wise to: a) send unified messages to Kim Jong-un particularly in denunciation of the regime’s use of assassinations, purges and slave labor; b) avoid promoting Kim Jong-un’s cachet and icon as a singular force and dictator of 25 million critically impoverished people; and c) treat Kim Jong-un’s branches of peace as nothing more than short-term distractions while he discreetly pursues a 50-year strategy to build a monolithic, malevolent empire.
Everett A. Stern, M.B.A.
Intelligence Director, Tactical Rabbit Former U.S. Senate Candidate
www.TacticalRabbit.com / www.EverettStern.com