North Korea confirms removal of Kim Jong-un’s 'depraved' uncle Jang Song Thaek

Jang was once seen as Kim's mentor long considered the country's second power - but his removal was blamed on 'corruption, drug use, gambling and womanizing'

Seoul

North Korea has announced the sacking of leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, the man long considered the country's second in command, citing corruption, drug use, gambling, womanizing and a generally “dissolute and depraved life” that has resulted in Pyongyang's highest-profile fall from grace since Kim took power two years ago.

Not long after Jang Song Thaek been removed from power as part of a series of purges in the country’s leadership, startling images emerged showing Kim’s former mentor had been retrospectively cut out of official videos and photographs.

The removal of Jang Song Thaek, once seen as Kim's mentor, is the most significant in a series of purges the young leader has conducted in an apparent effort to bolster his power since his father's 2011 death.

The confirmation that Pyongyang had “eliminated Jang and purged his group” carried in an unusually detailed and lengthy dispatch by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, and was seen by some analysts as a warning against dissent. It came about a week after South Korea's spy agency said that two of Jang's closest assistants had been executed for corruption.

North Korean state TV showed a still image of two uniformed guards holding Jang by the arms at a meeting of the country's Political Bureau as dozens of dark-suited officials seated behind rows of long desks looked on.

And in the aftermath of the attack, images of Jang appearing on state visits alongside Kim were cropped down in order to erase any memory of the now disgraced family member.

This handout image from South Korea's Ministry of Unification shows before and after photos of still grabs taken from the documentary 'The Great Comrade' This handout image from South Korea's Ministry of Unification shows before and after photos of still grabs taken from the documentary 'The Great Comrade' With tensions on the Korean Peninsula still high following a torrent of threats in March and April by Kim's government against Washington, Seoul and Tokyo, there were fears in Seoul that confusion in the North could lead to a miscalculation or attack. Experts believe Pyongyang has a handful of crude nuclear bombs. South Korea's defense ministry said there have been no suspicious military movements, however.

The allegations against Jang, 67, couldn't be independently confirmed, and there was no mention of further punishment for him.

Jang, seen by outsiders as the North's leading supporter of Chinese-style economic reforms, has reportedly been cast down before only to return to power. But Monday's announcement was especially shrill, even by the standards of North Korea's state media, suggesting this time he won't be coming back.

The documentary was re-broadcast with Jang Song Thaek edited out of footage The documentary was re-broadcast with Jang Song Thaek edited out of footage “I believe it shows Kim Jong-un is firmly in control and confident enough to remove even the senior-most officials,” said Bruce Klingner, an Asia specialist at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington. “Kim has purged hundreds of officials since ascending the throne two years ago. ... Kim originally focused his wrath against the military, but by removing Jang, a senior Korea Workers' Party official, the bloodletting may now be directed against real or imagined enemies within the party structure.”

Jang — who is married to Kim Jong-un's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il — was described as “abusing his power,” being “engrossed in irregularities and corruption,” and taking drugs and squandering money at casinos while undergoing medical treatment in a foreign country. The dispatch also said he had “improper relations with several women and was wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants.”

“Affected by the capitalist way of living, Jang committed irregularities and corruption and led a dissolute and depraved life,” it said.

Film-makers cropped out the powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un Film-makers cropped out the powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un The decision to strip Jang of all posts and titles and expel him from the ruling Workers' Party was made at a Political Bureau meeting of the party's Central Committee on Sunday. The dispatch also said that the purge would extend to supporters of Jang but did not provide details.

Referring to North Korea as a “popular democratic dictatorship,” Monday's state media dispatch said “Jang seriously obstructed the nation's economic affairs and the improvement of the standard of people's living.” Kim Jong-un has vowed to lift the country from poverty while also pursuing a nuclear weapons program that has drawn worldwide criticism — and heavy economic sanctions.

The announcement also hinted that Jang was trying to build a powerbase of his own to rival that of the party status quo, saying that he committed anti-party, counter-revolutionary acts and “pretended to uphold the party and leader” while double-dealing behind the scenes.

This handout image from South Korea's Ministry of Unification shows before and after photos of still grabs taken from the documentary 'The Great Comrade', re-broadcast on North Korean state broadcaster KCTV showing scenes from the original version (L) and of the recently rebroadcast version (R) where the powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Kim Jong-Un (in the red circle), was edited out of footage This handout image from South Korea's Ministry of Unification shows before and after photos of still grabs taken from the documentary 'The Great Comrade', re-broadcast on North Korean state broadcaster KCTV showing scenes from the original version (L) and of the recently rebroadcast version (R) where the powerful uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, Kim Jong-Un (in the red circle), was edited out of footage Jang has held a string of senior jobs, including membership in the National Defense Commission, the government's top ruling body. He served as a leading economic policy official in charge of the push to draw foreign investment, traveling in 2012 to China to discuss the establishment of special economic zones. He had also assumed responsibility for North Korea's burgeoning sports industry, a pet project of Kim Jong-un's.

Kim Jong-un has reportedly overseen other purges of senior officials, though none as high profile as this one.

One of the most notable personnel changes was the 2012 firing of military chief Ri Yong Ho, who was once also dubbed a mentor to Kim Jong-un. State media said he was dismissed in July 2012 due to an unspecified illness, but analysts speculated that Ri was purged because Kim wanted to reshape the power structure.

The North publicly executed 17 people last year and 40 this year, according to lawmakers in Seoul who were briefed by South Korea's spy agency last week.

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor