A feared North Korean general dubbed the “Angel of Death” has been promoted to oversee the brutal purge of Kim Jong-un’s enemies.
Jo Kyong-chol was the evil mastermind behind the purge of senior officials such as the dictator’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, who was assassinated in 2013.
The cold-blooded killer of North Korea’s Military Security Command (MSC) has now been promoted to the rogue state’s most powerful decision-making body: the Central Military Commission (CMC).
Michael Madden, a leading North Korean expert, described the new role of the “shadowy” general.
He said: “We can generally link him to overseeing the process of incarceration and execution of top North Korean military officers and party cadres.
“When we talk about prisons for North Korean elites, we’re talking about places where there’s no natural light, and if you go into one, you don’t get out of there alive.”
He continued: “As for executions, they are usually carried out with three bullets from a firing squad.
“Of course we have stories of more creative methods of taking down disobedient malcontents, such as using flak fired at close range.
“Another report says that some military officers were held to the ground and run over by military tanks.
“But this is not the norm and more to send a message to the North Korean elites to form on the principle of killing a chicken to scare the monkeys.”
Madden, a fellow of The Stimson Center in Washington DC and who runs the North Korea Leadership Watch website, claims the move was more like a crackdown.
“This indicates that Kim Jong-un is tightening control,” he said.
“He and General Jo may take a hard line on certain cohorts in the military.
“But that would be an incomplete picture. The CMC also has some oversight of civilian officials in the party and the state.
And the MSC that Jo leads can monitor or investigate civilian officials.
“Basically, his appointment to the CMC is intended as a warning to North Korean officials of all walks of life.”
The soulless general was part of a group that helped Kim Jong-un consolidate his power after the death of Kim Jong-Il, the leader’s father and predecessor in 2011.
It comes as satellite images suggest the North Korean tyrant is preparing to detonate several more nuclear warheads some five years after the last A bomb tests.
Analysts say work on one mountain tunnel is ready for testing, and that work on another tunnel means more are planned.
Observers in North Korea warned that Kim could detonate a nuclear bomb at any time, despite the US promise to “respond quickly” to such a threat.
The satellite images show the Punggye-ri test site last Sunday, June 13.
Ongoing reconstruction and preparations can be seen in an area dubbed Tunnel No. 3, according to a report by Beyond Parallel, a project of the Washington think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
This site is “apparently now complete and ready for an oft-specified seventh nuclear test,” the authors say.
Analysts also saw new construction at tunnel No. 4, which collapsed after North Korea shut down the site in 2018.
The report says, “The most recent image shows new evidence of activity under the entrance to Tunnel No. 4,” strongly suggesting “an effort to re-enable it for possible future testing.”
And the conclusion: “The timing of a seventh nuclear test is now solely in the hands of Kim Jong-un.”