Fletcher in the News

Does North Korea's Purge Signal Rising Instability?: Professor Lee Weighs in on PBS NewsHour

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, what does the execution say about what's going on in North Korea?

We have two views. Robert Carlin had a 31-year career at the CIA and the State Department focused on Korea. He's the co-author of the new edition of the book "The Two Koreas: A Contemporary History." And Sung-Yoon Lee, an assistant professor of Korean studies at Tufts University's Fletcher School.

Welcome to both of you to the NewsHour. …

… Professor Lee, just a matter of time?

SUNG-YOON LEE, Tufts University: Yes, indeed.

In a totalitarian system, the de facto number two man is an unenviable position. The de jure number two man poses no threat, and North Korea has such an individual who is charged with ceremonial activities like receiving foreign dignitaries. But because Jang Song Thaek has been considered as the de facto number two man for at least 10 years, he becomes a target.

And in a totalitarian system, oftentimes, the life of the number two man is short and precarious.

Read the full transcript