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Censorship The Internet Politics

North Korea Erases Executed Official From the Internet 276

Posted by Soulskill
from the personhood-redacted dept.
itwbennett writes "The North Korean state propaganda machine has edited and deleted hundreds of news articles that mention Jang Song Thaek, the former top government and party official and uncle to leader Kim Jong Un, who was executed Thursday. Earlier this week, Jang was arrested in front of hundreds of senior members of the ruling Worker's Party of Korea and denounced for numerous alleged acts against the state and Kim Jong Un. From arrest to trial to death took only four days and the unprecedented fall from grace is widely being interpreted as an attempt by Kim Jong Un to keep officials loyal and scared."
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North Korea Erases Executed Official From the Internet

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  • Word unlocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:12PM (#45685277)

    The term 'Orwellian' tends to be overused a bit these days. But, having read 1984, this is something straight out of that book. The adjective is appropriate in this situation: Go ahead and use it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I am more than certain that not a single soul posting on Slashdot feels the need for anyone, anywhere, especially not one of their own, to give permission to use blatantly inflammatory language to describe anything at all.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ttucker (2884057)
        Just remember that Germany voted for Hitler. History can and does happen again, unless we care to learn from it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Um, no. Hitler did not win any election.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_presidential_election,_1932

        • by JustOK (667959) on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:29PM (#45685849) Journal

          You know who else voted for Hitler?
          Hitler!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          False. Hitler did not win election, he lost in 1932. He was made Chancellor in 1933 by then President Hindenburg as a concession to the Nazi Party which did win some elections to the Reichstag. When Hindenburg died, Hitler was unchallenged and then took complete power.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mysidia (191772)

          Just remember that Germany voted for Hitler. History can and does happen again, unless we care to learn from it.

          And the US voted for Obama.

          There is frequently a disconnect between the reason people vote for someone, and what that person actually does once elected.

      • Re:Word unlocked. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:57PM (#45685611) Journal

        Funny thing is, the language in this case isn't so much "inflammatory", as much as it is descriptive. See also The Memory Hole [wikipedia.org].

        (I wonder if NoKo actually calls the folks tasked with this job the Korean equivalent of "Ministry of Truth" as well...)

        • Pretty sure the idea for the memory hole came from the soviet purges. See also: Nikolai_Yezhov [wikipedia.org].

          In other words, the communists didnt get the idea from Orwell, Orwell got the idea from the communists.

    • It's the North Korean Happy Fun Time Hour! Be sure to clap for Dear Leader very enthusiastically! Be sure to stay tuned right to the end, when we show all the lucky children of our great country what it looks like when someone is executed by mortar fire. And remember, clap very enthusiastically... or else.

      • Re:Word unlocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:27PM (#45685399) Journal

        It's the North Korean Happy Fun Time Hour! Be sure to clap for Dear Leader very enthusiastically!

        You might be joking, but one of the accused's crimes was, in fact, to not clap enthusiastically enough. It's almost like they are trying to parody themselves.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:46PM (#45685521)

          It's the North Korean Happy Fun Time Hour! Be sure to clap for Dear Leader very enthusiastically!

          You might be joking, but one of the accused's crimes was, in fact, to not clap enthusiastically enough. It's almost like they are trying to parody themselves.

          Who got accused of what? You can't find any evidence of this supposed uncle on reputable web sites. Only tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorists believe that Kim Jong-Un ever had an uncle!

      • Re:Word unlocked. (Score:5, Informative)

        by kallisti (20737) <rmidthun@yahoo.com> on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:43PM (#45685501) Homepage

        In a book on the life of Shostakovich, there was an anecdote about Stalin giving a speech at a farm collective. After he finished, there was a thunderous applause that continued on and on for over half an hour. No one wanted to be known as the first one to stop clapping.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TapeCutter (624760)
      He murdered his uncle for political reasons and doesn't want everyone to know about it, that kind of behaviour predates 1984 by several millennia.
      • Re:Word unlocked. (Score:5, Informative)

        by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:14PM (#45685747)
        Well if you remember 1984, the main character's job was to re-write history removing individuals from books, news stories, etc.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        He murdered his uncle for political reasons and doesn't want everyone to know about it, that kind of behaviour predates 1984 by several millennia.

        I think photoshopping the guy out of pictures, deleting all references to him is what makes it 1984 worthy.

        How do you even know he was murdered, given the above?! This is not simply "hiding a murder"...

      • Re:Word unlocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by arth1 (260657) on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:20PM (#45685785) Homepage Journal

        He murdered his uncle for political reasons and doesn't want everyone to know about it, that kind of behaviour predates 1984 by several millennia.

        This is not insightful. He murdered his uncle and erased him from history, and very much wanted every North Korean politician, military and ambitious individual to know about it. It's a demonstration of utter ruthlessness designed to ensure obedience.

        When you work for a man capable of doing that to his own uncle, you tread lightly. And that's what he wants. He knows that you and everybody else knows the charges were false - he wants you to know that. But never say it. And if you're in North Korea, you won't.

        • Re:Word unlocked. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by vux984 (928602) on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:27PM (#45685835)

          He knows that you and everybody else knows the charges were false

          I'm with you on everything in your post but this. Were they false?

          I don't pretend to be up on North Korean politics, but I recall reading when Kim Jong Un came to power that some of his family members, Aunts and Uncles wielded a lot of power, and that Dear Leader himself had to tread pretty lightly to maintain the balance of power.

          It could well be that his Uncle was making a play for power. Or it could be that Kim Jong Un has consolidated enough support for himself that he can openly move against his opponents. Just saying, ... not that I think Kim Jong Un is some 'force for good' in North Korea, but I'm pretty skeptical that his Uncle was innocent of anything.

          • Re:Word unlocked. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by arth1 (260657) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:06PM (#45686067) Homepage Journal

            He knows that you and everybody else knows the charges were false

            I'm with you on everything in your post but this. Were they false?

            Oh, yes, I am pretty sure they were false. And that the uncle was guilty of a great many things, but not those he were charged with.
            Kim Jong-Un's point wasn't to get him convicted for things he did - the point was to get him convicted, killed and erased on a whim. For that to be truly effective, Kim would need charges that were blatantly false, and some that weren't even against any laws. Which is exactly what he appears to have done.

            It's a truly despicable Machiavellan ploy. The consolation is that few excessively ruthless leaders tend to rule for very long.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by formfeed (703859)

            [...] I recall reading when Kim Jong Un came to power that some of his family members, Aunts and Uncles wielded a lot of power, and that Dear Leader himself had to tread pretty lightly to maintain the balance of power.

            It could well be that his Uncle was making a play for power. [..]

            One possibility.

            The other possibility:
            Dear Leader had finally enough power not to listen to his uncle anymore. And his economically more experienced uncle might have told him that some of his new power moves are contra-productive. Like taking South Korean workers hostage and ruining future chances of needed cash flow.
            - I imagine that disrespectful uncle might have said things like: "You know, some of the stuff you're doing is pretty dumb, even for North Korean standards." And Dear leader might have res

      • The government turned the electricity on so people could watch him being dragged out of the meeting on TV.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Basically the typical act of a monarchist. However western press doesn't want to tag it as such because it is all too much of a reminder of who our current monarchical spawn really are and who they descended from.

        As for North Korea, the number of recent execution is a sign of extreme paranoia, that either has a basis in reality and Kim Jong Un is likely to become the un-leader or Kim Jung Un is totally nuts and paranoid and to save themselves the ones left standing will turn him into the un-leader. Here'

      • Re:Word unlocked. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by drkim (1559875) on Saturday December 14, 2013 @03:24AM (#45687609)

        He murdered his uncle for political reasons...

        ...but - tell the truth - around the holidays, haven't you ever felt like killing someone in your family?

      • The Romans called it damnatio memoriae. [wikipedia.org]

    • Do they really have enough electricity in North Korea to operate their telescreens?
    • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:55PM (#45686011) Journal

      The term 'Orwellian' tends to be overused a bit these days. But, having read 1984, this is something straight out of that book

      Millions of Jews died in the hand of the Nazis. Those who went through holocaust hell but survived fully comprehend the meaning of "LIBERTY".

      Many people tried to scale the Berlin wall but was shot to death. Those who were successful fully appreciate the importance of "LIBERTY".

      Some brave souls from North Korea risk everything and went through a very dangerous journey crossing the very heavily guarded border into China. To them, "LIBERTY" is worth much more than all the gold in the world.

      They do not need "1984" to tell them the horror. They have experience it first hand.

      I had befriended several holocaust survivors when I was in the United States (back when many of them were still alive, in the 70's) and I found that, for them, the same thing happen : Mere words could never justify the horrors that they had gone through.

      The scars that they had was much worse than the scars that I have. They had their family slaughtered right in front of them, and yet, when I asked them to describe how they feel, they just shook their head.

      They couldn't.

      It's not the "hurt" that stopped them from telling me what happened. It's that SPOKEN WORDS itself is not sufficient.

      Now, when I see people like you justifying your "understanding" the horror with a fiction, I sadly shake my head.

      "1984" is but an old fiction.

      You guys might find it useful, but to us who had been through the horror, that book does not even come close to the actual experience.

      To us, "LIBERTY" means much more than life itself.

      To some of you, that word is, a word.

      That is why I mourn for the loss of "LIBERTY" of the United States of America but too many born and bred Americans themselves don't even understand what they have lost.

      I humbly ask for your forgiveness because English is not my mother tongue. There are times, like now, I am at a total loss of words to describe how I feel.

      All I can say is this --- You will never understand the importance of "LIBERTY" until you have lost it.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      The term 'Orwellian' tends to be overused a bit these days. But, having read 1984, this is something straight out of that book. The adjective is appropriate in this situation: Go ahead and use it.

      Good old sexiest man in the world was afraid. He doesn't like to be afraid. People go away when he's afraid. It makes him feel better. NK is now safer for Dennis's visit, with this dangerous hooligan removed as well.

    • Re:Word unlocked. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chryana (708485) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:34PM (#45686195)

      As soon as all the corrections which happened to be necessary in any particular number of The Times had been assembled and collated, that number would be reprinted, the original copy destroyed, and the corrected copy placed on the files in its stead. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs -- to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place.

      George Orwell, 1984

    • Or, you could use Damnatio memoriae [wikipedia.org].

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:15PM (#45685287)
    They exercised his right to a speedy trial all right.
  • by aphelion_rock (575206) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:17PM (#45685311)

    "is widely being interpreted as an attempt by Kim Jong Un to keep officials loyal and scared."

    Sounds like Stalin all over again....

    "The purge was motivated by the desire to remove dissenters from the Communist Party and to consolidate the authority of Joseph Stalin. " http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge [wikipedia.org]

    • Well, the USSR was also an authoritarian state whose leaders remained in power through a combination of fear and enforced ignorance among the population, so it shouldn't be too surprising that another state run in much the same way follows a similar trend. Especially since North Korea is like the USSR on steroids in that respect.
    • by dido (9125)

      Stalin did exactly the same thing to Commisar Nikolai Yezhov after his fall from grace. They purged him from all official records and even went as far as photoshopping (much harder before digital photography) pictures of Stalin and Yezhov so that the latter disappeared.

  • "That's not how the Internet works."

    Oh sure, the locals (not having ample Internet, and being fed the story by speakers across the countryside) might think his uncle that taught him his tricks was a traitor scumdog etcetera because that's the story Kim Jong-Un has concocted recently, but the rest of the world hasn't lost their copies of the newspaper, the stories that are on the websites, and other proofs of concept that Photoshop or a text editor aren't going to negate from the other 99% of the world's med

  • I think it was Stalin who erased people from existence. paintings, books, tax roles, every mention in every place. Very thorough, and very very paranoid.
  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Friday December 13, 2013 @07:43PM (#45685499) Homepage Journal

    I never heard of him before this article; now he's indelible.

  • by Gordo_1 (256312) on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:11PM (#45685725)

    Look, his uncle was probably as much a despicable character as any in the NK ruling party, likely performing or being complicit in any number of crimes against humanity, so no real loss to the human race here in all likelihood. What I find disturbing though is that Jong-Un has displayed callous disregard for human life in recent months in order to maintain complete control over the population.

    I had high hopes for him when I learned that he'd been schooled in Switzerland, spoke English and had made positive comments in the past about the plight of the NK people. I figured he was young, idealistic, and maybe not all that different from myself -- had I been placed into a very difficult situation due to my family lineage. If placed in such a situation, I imagine that for a year or two I might have acted the part (whatever that means) in order to maintain control long enough to come up with a plan to bring some level of reforms to the country and ensure a longer-term transition to democracy.

    Then again, you never really hear about a dictator who had a change of heart and became 'sane' after being able to operate with complete impunity for a while. I guess it's true when they say absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    It seems that his age and boyish looks belie the fact that Jong-Il chose and groomed his successor very carefully.

    • What I find disturbing though is that Jong-Un has displayed callous disregard for human life in recent months in order to maintain complete control over the population

      No different than his father or grandfather in that respect. All of them shipped men, women and children off to gulags to suffer and die. His father feasted while children starved to death...

  • Sympathy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:25PM (#45685821)

    This guy was one of the top brass in NK. Lets keep in mind how many millions of tortures and death he's likely responsible for. The worlds better off without him, and we can only hope NK becomes unstable soon. Those poor people that live there, my God. How can we still have such a place on this earth.

    • Those poor people that live there, my God. How can we still have such a place on this earth.

      There are still people who believe that North Korea is closer to an ideal than Hong Kong or Belgium. Look at how excited they are about the rapid decline of Venezuela. Oh, right, the capitalists are all there sabotaging the People's Armies...

      As long as people in large groups reject reason, [cafehayek.com] then other large groups of people will die for it.

    • "Hope", "becomes unstable", and "nuclear weapons" are not concepts that belong in the same place at the same time.

      • There isn't much to compare to the horror that's going on there now. I'd hate to see their arsenal get lose but the pain and suffering happening to those people now dwarfs even the worst case scenario with the nukes.

  • My goodness, only one reference to the Memory hole? That is where erased history went in the book 1984 and this situation fits it perfectly and there is only one bloody reference. I'm disappointed.

    Oh and BTW, they aren't erasing him, only the mentions of him that were good. They broadcast live him being dragged out (by his elbows) of the politburo by soldiers.

  • How does that work? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Daetrin (576516) on Friday December 13, 2013 @08:47PM (#45685951)
    How is he supposed to serve as a lesson to others if they're busy purging all records of him?

    "Remember what happened to Jang Song Thaek before you think about crossing me!"
    "Who? I don't remember him at all."
    "Exactly!"

    Sounds a bit more like bad comedy than a real threat.
  • The Evil Bert meme can be extended so Kim Jong Un's Uncle shows up in various photos on the internet. That should drive the pudgy dictator nuts!
  • No fool (Score:5, Funny)

    by waimate (147056) on Friday December 13, 2013 @09:53PM (#45686305) Homepage

    That Kim Jong Un is no fool. When executing relatives, always do it just *before* xmas, not *after*. That way you save on buying a present.

  • wait they killed who? I don't know anyone by that name.
  • "You've just been erased..."

I have not yet begun to byte!

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