North Korea: Kim Jong Un 'sacks powerful uncle and has his aides executed'

 

Seoul

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 Defence 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 favour 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.

The removal of Mr Jang, a key figure in the power transition following the death of Mr Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011, could tip the balance in the fiercely competitive group of confidants surrounding the current leader but was unlikely to impact on Kim Jong-un’s hold on power, experts said.

“Jang Song-thaek is a person who at one point Kim Jong-un had to cut out as he solidifies his own power structure,” said Koh Yu-hwan of Dongguk University in Seoul, a leading expert on the North’s leadership.

“I think the young elite had Kim get rid of Jang, meaning that he will rule without  a guardian.”

Accordion-playing Mr Jang, 67, is married to Kim Jong-un’s aunt, Kyong Hui. She is a daughter of the North’s founding leader and “ eternal President” Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994. Mr Jang was widely seen as an advocate of economic reform and a key question is what his downfall will mean for the shattered economy.

“There is a risk involved with removing someone that close to the [economic reform] programme,” said Dr John Swenson-Wright, a senior fellow at Chatham House, a think-tank.

While Mr Jang’s dismissal could symbolically tip the balance of power in favour of Mr Choe, analysts say it is unlikely to signal a return to the military grandstanding of Mr Kim’s father.

Reuters

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
News
news
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Latest stories from i100
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

Primary Supply Teacher - Loughborough

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Teacher looking fo...

Primary General Cover Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leicester: Are you a Newly Qualified Teacher lo...

Part Time Primary Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Part Time Primary TeacherOur...

Science Technician

£7 - £8 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: The Job:School Science Technici...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week