North Korean leader Kim Jong-un walks past his uncle Jang Song-Thaek, during a military parade on February 16, 2012.
SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s uncle, seen as the hardline regime’s political regent, has apparently been purged and two associates executed, South Korea’s spy agency said yesterday nearly two years after the young supremo came to power.
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) said it believed Jang Song-Thaek had been removed from all posts, including vice chairman of the communist country’s top military body, the National Defence Commission.
If confirmed, Jang’s ouster would mark the most significant purge at top of North Korean leadership since Kim Jong-Un came to power in December 2011.
According to the NIS briefing, Jang was “recently ousted from his position and two of his close confidantes -- Ri Yong-Ha and Jang Soo-Kil -- were publicly executed in mid-November,” lawmaker Jung Cheong-Rae told reporters.
North Korean military personnel had been notified of the executions, Jung said, adding that Jang, 67, had since “disappeared.”
The husband of Kim Jong-Il’s powerful sister, Kim Kyong-Hui, Jang was seen as instrumental in cementing Kim Jong-Un’s hold on power in the tricky transition period after his father’s death.
“I can only guess that the roles played by Jang have caused some tension in the process of consolidating Kim Jong-Un’s power,” said Kim Yong-Hyun, a professor at Seoul’s Dongguk University.
“Jang once visited South Korea and witnessed many aspects of capitalist society, including changes that have been happening in China. “So he was the figure who was most likely to aggressively push for some reforms and opening of the North’s system,” Kim said. AFP