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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ‘sacks powerful uncle and has his aides executed’
The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is believed to have dismissed an uncle, a man key to his rise to power, South Korean politicians said, in a move that could help consolidate his power base with a group of younger aides.
Jang Song-thaek was probably sacked as vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission and as a department head of the ruling Workers’ Party, an MP Jung Cheong-rae said, citing a senior South Korean official in its National Intelligence Service (NIS).
Analysts who watch the North’s power structure say Mr Jang’s removal would not have been possible without the approval of the third Kim to rule in the family dynasty.
The move is likely to tip the balance in favor of the top political operative for the army, Choe Ryong-hae, which could mean a symbolic victory for the 1.2 million-strong military. Mr Choe, director of the General Political Bureau of the Korean People’s Army, has been the most prominent figure to accompany Mr Kim at public events and is a reminder of the state’s political roots in military power.
There was no mention of Mr Jang’s fate on North Korea’s KCNA news agency, the primary source of information for outsiders, which regularly carries editorials threatening the South and the United States.
Two members of the South Korean parliament’s Intelligence Committee told separate news briefings that the NIS had confirmed the public execution of two close aides to Mr Jang on grounds of corruption. “The briefing by an NIS senior official was that they believe Jang Song-thaek has lost his posts,” said Mr Jung, who is the ranking opposition member of the intelligence committee. A ruling party member of the committee held a separate news briefing and delivered a similar report.