First came the news that Kim Jong-un executed his uncle. Then he bragged about getting rid of the “scum” in his New Year’s message to the country. Now, the cause of death.
The Straits Times in Singapore published an account from Wen Wei Po, China’s official mouthpiece in Hong Kong, indicating that Beijing was none too pleased with the execution of Kim’s No. 2, Jang Song Thaek:
According to the report, unlike previous executions of political prisoners which were carried out by firing squads with machine guns, Jang was stripped naked and thrown into a cage, along with his five closest aides. Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called “quan jue”, or execution by dogs.
The report said the entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, supervising it along with 300 senior officials.
The horrifying report vividly depicted the brutality of the young North Korean leader. The fact that it appeared in a Beijing- controlled newspaper showed that China no longer cares about its relations with the Kim regime.
Two days later, the Global Times, associated with the People’s Daily, a Chinese Communist Party organ, followed up with a sternly worded editorial saying that the abrupt political change epitomised the backwardness of the North Korean political system. It warned the Chinese government not to coddle North Korea any longer, saying that the majority of Chinese were extremely disgusted with the Kim regime.
The incendiary story, plus the stern editorial, provided a measure of the extent of Beijing’s loathing, which is quite understandable.
In purging a top official known for his close ties with Beijing in such a brutal manner, Pyongyang did not hide its antagonism towards China.
Incidentally, this was also a favorite execution method of Ivan the Terrible, who threw Prince Andrew Shuiksy, the leader of the boyars, to a pack of starved dogs in 1543 as an example to other Russian nobility.