North Korea Executed Kim Jong Un’s Uncle

Abby Ohlheiser, The Wire
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Abby Ohlheiser, The Wire
Dec. 13, 2013, 4:02 a.m.

North Korea said on Thursday that its gov­ern­ment had ex­ecuted Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of lead­er Kim Jong Un.

Un­til re­cently, Jang was widely re­garded as the second most power­ful man in the coun­try. The state-run KCNA news agency called Jang a “trait­or,” claim­ing that he “brought to­geth­er un­desir­able forces” in the coun­try to form an op­pos­i­tion fac­tion. His re­mov­al from power, and ul­ti­mate ex­e­cu­tion, is likely part of Kim’s broad­er strategy to con­sol­id­ate power.

Weeks ago, im­ages and men­tions of Jang began to dis­ap­pear from North Korea’s state-pro­duced me­dia, in­dic­at­ing that some sort of pur­ging was afoot. This week, it be­came clear that his re­mov­al from power was something more than a mo­ment­ary fall­ing out between the two when the state-run me­dia ac­cused Jang of fo­ment­ing dis­sent, wo­man­iz­ing, gambling, and us­ing drugs. On Sunday, the coun­try’s state-run news agency broad­cast im­ages of Jang be­ing for­cibly re­moved from an emer­gency meet­ing of the coun­try’s rul­ing party. Jang was purged once be­fore, in 2004, un­der Kim Jong Il’s rule.

The KCNA re­port on Jang’s ex­e­cu­tion goes even fur­ther to de­mon­ize the char­ac­ter of Kim’s former ment­or, call­ing him “Despic­able hu­man scum” and “worse than a dog”:

“From long ago, Jang had a dirty polit­ic­al am­bi­tion. He dared not raise his head when Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were alive. But, read­ing their faces, Jang had an axe to grind and in­volved him­self in double-deal­ing. He began re­veal­ing his true col­ors, think­ing that it was just the time for him to real­ize his wild am­bi­tion in the peri­od of his­tor­ic turn when the gen­er­a­tion of the re­volu­tion was re­placed.”

“Jang com­mit­ted such an un­par­don­able thrice-cursed treas­on as overtly and cov­ertly stand­ing in the way of set­tling the is­sue of suc­ces­sion to the lead­er­ship,” KCNA con­tin­ued. Re­portedly, North Korea also ex­ecuted some of Jang’s as­so­ci­ates.

Re­prin­ted with per­mis­sion from The Wire. The ori­gin­al story can be found here.

This art­icle was pub­lished in Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire, which is pro­duced in­de­pend­ently by Na­tion­al Journ­al Group un­der con­tract with the Nuc­le­ar Threat Ini­ti­at­ive. NTI is a non­profit, non­par­tis­an group work­ing to re­duce glob­al threats from nuc­le­ar, bio­lo­gic­al, and chem­ic­al weapons.

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