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Korea, North

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  1. Korea, North Main Page
  2. Partition of Korea Leads to War
  3. Famine Overshadows Nuclear Ambitions
  4. Secretive Government Opens Up in Exchange for Aid
  5. Kim Jong Il and U.S. President Bush Engage in Diplomatic Roller Coaster
  6. North and South Korea Establish Closer Ties
  7. Uncertainty Surrounding Nuclear Program Continues
  8. Tension Between North and South Reaches Crisis Point
  9. Kim Jong-il Dies
  10. Kim Jong-un Launches Satellite and Tests Nuclear Device, Testing International Patience
  11. North Korea Threatens U.S., South Korea with War
  12. Reported Leadership Shuffle Sparks Concern
  13. North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles; Exchanges Fire with South Korea
  14. North Korea Accused of Launching a Cyberattack on Sony; Drought Threatens Crops
Reported Leadership Shuffle Sparks Concern

In December 2013, Kim Jong-un sacked his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, and other government and military leaders held over from his father's rule. When Kim took power, Jang was assigned to supervise and advise Kim and was considered the second most powerful figure in the country. The Korean Central News Agency said Jang was ousted for heavy drinking, womanizing, challenging the leadership of Kim, and selling resources below market value. Days later, on Dec. 13, North Korea announced that Jang had been executed for attempting a coup. Jang "persistently plotted to spread his evil design into the military, believing that he could overthrow the leadership if he could mobilize the military," the news agency reported. It was an extraordinary show of transparency from the world's most secretive societies. The upheaval could signal Kim's attempt to put his own handprint on the government—or a power struggle. Observers feared the repercussions if a power struggle led to further instability.

About 360 South Koreans, mostly elderly, traveled to North Korea in February 2014 to meet with relatives from whom they were separated when the Korean Peninsula split after World War II. The reunions, the first since 2010, were part of an effort to improve ties between the North and the South, which have further deteriorated over the status of North Korea's nuclear program.

The UN’s Human Rights Council released a report in February 2014 accusing North Korea of crimes against humanity and compared the regime to that of Nazi Germany. The report was stunning in its graphic description of the horrors endured by political prisoners—who number between 80,000 and 120,000. The council recommended that North Korea be referred to the International Criminal Court. China was cited for "aiding and abetting crimes against humanity" for supporting North Korea and detaining and repatriating refugees from North Korea.

North Korea held legislative elections in March 2014. Considered a sham election for the rubber-stamp Parliament, only one candidate appeared on the ballot for each district. Not one vote was cast against the government's candidates, and voter turnout was 100%. The elections are held every five years. In April, Parliament re-elected Kim as first chairman of the National Defense Commission, the body that controls the country's military. He then filled several posts left vacant from the leadership purge he carried out in December 2013.

Next: North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles; Exchanges Fire with South Korea
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