x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Kim Jong-un’s uncle sacked by North Korea

Jang Song Thaek was sacked as vice chairman of the North’s powerful National Defence Commission and as a department head of the ruling Workers’ Party, according to a South Korean official.

SEOUL // North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle, considered the power behind the throne, is believed to have been dismissed from his posts, a South Korean parliamentarian said yesterday, suggesting a huge upheaval in one of the world’s most secretive states.

Jang Song Thaek was sacked as vice chairman of the North’s powerful National Defence Commission and as a department head of the ruling Workers’ Party, the MP, Jung Cheong-rae, said citing a senior South Korean official with the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

“The briefing by an NIS senior official was that they believe Jang Song Thaek has lost his posts,” Mr Jung told a news briefing.

Two close aides to Mr Jang in the Workers’ Party had also been executed for corruption, Mr Jung said, also citing the briefing.

“Following that, the NIS said it believes Jang Song Thaek has not been seen and has lost his posts.”

There was no immediate mention of Mr Jang’s fate on North Korea’s KCNA news agency, the primary source of information on the country for outsiders, which regularly threatens the democratic South and the United States with destruction.

Mr Jang, who is married to Kim Jong-un’s aunt, Kyong Hui, has been the central figure in a coterie of top officials and family members who worked to ensure the young and untested son of Kim Jong-il took over power when his father died in 2011.

Mr Jang, who is widely seen as an advocate of economic reform, was previously purged in a power struggle in 2004 under Kim Jong-il’s rule but was reinstated two years later.

Analysts who watch the North’s power structure say Mr Jang’s removal would not have been possible without leader Kim Jong-un’s approval.

Reuters