PYONGYANG, North Korea—In a drastic move reminiscent of Stalin’s Russia, the North Korean government has embarked on an Internet purge of Jang Sung-thaek, the former top government and party official who was executed Thursday. According to reports, party officials have edited and deleted hundreds of news articles that mention Jang, and have also deleted his Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.
Jang was one of the most powerful men in North Korea and uncle to Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. But earlier this week, he was arrested and denounced in front of the Workers’ Party of Korea Politburo for numerous alleged acts against the state and Kim Jong Un.
North Korea announced that Jang had been executed on Thursday, calling him “worse than a dog” for “perpetrat[ing] thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him.”
Following the announcement, North Korea’s official news website was down for 45 minutes, and when it came back, articles that mentioned Jang were either deleted or edited to remove any references of him.
As an indication of how far North Korea’s government will go to purge the memory of the disgraced Jang, those connected to Jang’s social media profiles are reporting that his online life has also been erased.
“You can see it on my LinkedIn notifications: ‘Jang Sung-thaek, Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission at DPR, has viewed your profile, 23 days ago,’ but when you click on it, it doesn’t go anywhere,” said Pak Ji-hoon, a South Korean diplomatic official. “It’s like we were never even connected.
“I heard the reports, so I feared the worst, but sometimes it isn’t real until their LinkedIn page is gone, you know?” Pak added.
The move is DPR’s first social media intervention since Kim Jung Un’s Twitter account was deleted in February following a tweet that read, “getting fuqed up on purp w/@dennisrodman #CapitalismAintAllBad.”