Kim Jong Un’s Decade in Power: Purges, Nuclear Weapons, Trump Diplomacy

SEOUL – Friday marks 10 years since Kim Jong Un, the third generation of his family to rule North Korea, came to power after his father’s sudden heart attack.

Initially seen as inexperienced, Kim quickly demonstrated his ruthless willingness to cement his rule by having his powerful uncle and other potential opponents executed or purged. punish. His missile and nuclear tests in recent years have many fearing a Second Korean War.

Mr. Kim diverged again and held a landmark nuclear disarmament summit with then-US President Donald Trump, but their foreign policy fell apart because of a dispute over orders. US-led sanctions.

Now, with the pandemic and sanctions causing the problems to deepen, Kim has sealed off his country’s borders and tried to fix its struggling economy.

As Kim enters his second decade in power, here’s a look at key moments in his rule.


January 8, 1984: Kim Jong Un was born, the third and youngest son of Kim Jong Il.

September 2010: State media say Kim Jong Un has been awarded a four-star general in the first public mention of his name.

October 2010: Kim Jong Un makes his public debut at a military parade, standing next to his emaciated father on the balcony. He smiled, clapped and waved as soldiers saluted, tanks and rockets moved past.


December 17, 2011: Kim Jong Il died at the age of 69, but news of his death was not made public for two days.

December 19, 2011: Kim Jong Il’s death is announced during a noon special broadcast on state television. Kim Jong Un’s name appeared first on the list of the National Mourning Committee, and he was called “the great successor” by state media.

December 30, 2011: Kim Jong Un is appointed supreme commander of the North’s 1.2 million-strong army, the first top job he was given after his father’s death. In the following months, he assumed leadership positions at other key organizations such as the ruling Workers’ Party and the National Defense Commission.


July 2012: North Korean military commander Ri Yong Ho is sacked from all senior posts in Kim Jong Un’s first major purge.

December 2013: Kim’s powerful uncle and former mentor, Jang Song Thaek, is executed for alleged treason, corruption, and other crimes.

May 2015: South Korea’s spy agency says Kim Jong Un ordered his armed forces minister, Hyon Yong Chol, to be executed with an anti-aircraft gun last month for complaining about him and slept in a meeting that Kim chaired.

February 2017: Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, is killed at a Malaysian airport after VX nerve agent is applied to his face. Two Asian women were arrested, but South Korea’s spy agency accused North Korea of ​​being behind the attack. North Korea denies involvement.

Nuclear Efficacy

December 2012: North Korea says it has put a satellite into orbit in what outsiders call North Korea’s first successful long-range rocket launch. The UN considers such a launch by North Korea a test of banned missile technology.

February 2013: North Korea conducts its third nuclear test, the first atomic bomb explosion under Kim’s rule.

2016: North Korea conducts two more nuclear tests and successfully launches a second satellite.

July 4, 2017: North Korea conducts its first test flight of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which Kim calls North Korea’s “gift package” on America’s Independence Day. North Korea is preparing to launch two more ICBMs in 2017.

August 2017: Trump warns that North Korea could “meet fire and fury like the world has never seen”. North Korea then responded by threatening to launch a series of missiles towards the US territory of Guam.

September 2017: North Korea conducts its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date, saying it was a hydrogen bomb designed to be mounted on an ICBM.


April 2018: Kim Jong Un holds a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the third summit between the rival countries since they split in 1945. The two leaders hold more. two summit talks.

June 2018: Kim Jong Un and Trump meet in Singapore for the first summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Kim vowed to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula without giving a detailed timetable or roadmap for disarmament.

February 2019: Kim Jong Un meets Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, for their second summit. The meeting broke down over a dispute over US-led sanctions against North Korea.

June 2019: Kim Jong Un meets Trump at the tense border with North Korea, but their impromptu third meeting produces no major breakthrough.


June 2020: North Korea destroys an empty inter-Korean liaison office on its territory to express anger over a South Korean civilian leaflet campaign. It was North Korea’s most provocative act since it began nuclear diplomacy with Washington and Seoul in 2018.

January 2021: Kim Jong Un admits his economic development plan has failed at the North’s first Workers’ Party congress in five years. But he also threatened to expand his nuclear arsenal and develop more sophisticated weapons to protest what he called US hostility.

April 2021: Kim Jong Un says his country faces “worst situation ever” because of pandemic, persistent sanctions and natural disasters.

October 2021: Kim Jong Un vows to build an “invincible” military during an exhibition of rare weapons including long-range missiles capable of reaching the homeland of the United States.


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