London, Jan 11 (ANI): The brother-in-law of North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong-il has taken over the running of the country, stamping on dissent while the dictator recovers from a stroke.
A stream of reports has reached exiles about the man wielding an iron fist to keep the country under tight control as its 23 million people endure a hungry winter, The Times reported.
Jang Song-thaek, a 62-year-old lifetime party functionary, who was nominated on December 6 as director of the Korean Workers' party, a title that conceals his role as head of internal security.
His chief qualification for the job is his the fact that he is married to Kim's younger sister, Kyung-hee.
His mandate is to guarantee control as the regime waves farewell to George W Bush and waits to see what Barack Obama will do about its nuclear weapons.
Accounts filtering out to exiles in the cities of northern China indicate that he is enforcing conformity with such determination that even servants of the system nickname him "the most villainous follower" of Kim, the paper said.
The ruling party has issued a succession of reports and photographs to bolster its claim that Kim, the 67-year-old Dear Leader, who reportedly suffered a stroke last year, is well. But it is Jang whose day-to-day executive decisions have been reported by state media.
Party loyalists may clutch empty bellies, but Jang has forbidden them to buy or sell goods in the country's few private markets, saying that one cannot trade ideology for survival.
He has stifled commerce with China in the name of doctrinal purity, fearing the influence of cross-border traders. Regulations have been tightened to restrict travel between the two countries, supposedly close allies. (ANI)